Emerald & Pear Lake - Sequoia National Park - August 3-5, 2013


one step at a time
Jul 29, 2013
Just after the stroke of midnight I set off for Sequoia National Park on my first solo packing adventure. Arriving at Lodgepole Ranger station about an hour early I had time to ponder if my original trip was a bit too much to chew; buddy and I had planned a 5 day trip over Silliman Pass with hopes of reaching Crescent Lake via cross country. Those plans quickly evaporated when two weeks before departure buddy bailed. Emerald & Pear Lake permits are first come first serve and being a Saturday morning I knew my chances were slim. Upon waiting for Ranger station to open I sparked up conversation with a dude from Virginia named Ab. He & 2 sons were planning to ask for the same permits; luckily I received last opening for Emerald Lake.

The Lakes trailhead begins in Wolverton parking lot with a starting elevation of 7,100 ft. After enjoying one last warm breakfast (make your own... that chit was nasty) from nearby Lodge I was ready to hit the trail @ 10:30 am. First couple miles is well shaded with a easy accent to Watchtower.

Watchtower by clifton dobbie, on Flickr

Watchtower route is more scenic but does have a gnarly section on the edge of a cliff. The Hump route is shorter, but one has to climb a bit more. The first lake arrive to is Heather Lake - day use only.

Heather Lake - Sequioa NP by clifton dobbie, on Flickr

Continuing upwards one finally reaches Emerald Lake - elevation 9,300 ft.

Emerald Lake 2 by clifton dobbie, on Flickr

I was operating under LILO status (last in, last out) knowing my choices were going to be limited. Campsite #10 was waiting for me. It seemed as #10 was the cast off; apart from the other sites, resting up on rocks with it's own little lake.

small lake near Emerald Lake campsite by clifton dobbie, on Flickr

Ab invited me over to his camp later in the evening for tea and chat time. He had many questions of California that I was happily obliged to offer info. A bit jealous I was, Ab and family were heading to Yosemite afterwards. Waking early on Sunday, sleeping well through the night, quite possibly the best I ever have in the back country, warmed up some Oats and broke camp. I found what looked to be a good clean source of water running through Emerald camp - jackpot!! Filled up body and bottle, rejuvenated for destination Pear Lake.

Hike from Emerald to Pear is roughly 1 mile with 400 ft gain. This is the first time getting good looks at Aster Lake.

Aster Lake 2 by clifton dobbie, on Flickr

Pear Lake was all mine! Complete solitude for roughly 4 hours. One other site was taken but no one was around. I took site #2 which had shading, but soon realized as the afternoon grew shadows I was directly in the wind route.

shadows creeping in on Pear Lake - 080413 by clifton dobbie, on Flickr

sunset atop Alta Peak by clifton dobbie, on Flickr

100_4534 by clifton dobbie, on Flickr

Wish could say slept well at Pear, was not meant to be. Said goodbye at 8 am the next morning with plans to return with buddy to cross country Moose Lake. Hiking out was a great sense of accomplishment. I'll be heading out again solo.. different, yes. So worth it!

Selected image for home page


Jun 16, 2012
Nice. I love the granite out there. It's on my short list to do some backpacking in the Sierra Nevada's. Thanks for sharing!


Jan 24, 2012
All of that granite is amazing. Will have to put that area on my list. Thanks for the great pics, and glad you got your permit.


one step at a time
Jul 29, 2013
Trinity Alps (west of Redding) is another spot with awesome granite. Not to add more to each's list. =D


Oct 1, 2012
Great report! Every summer it was our family trip to camp at Lodgepole and we'd do this hike (though not all the way to Pear Lake, I think Emerald was the farthest we got in a day). I always went over the Humpback trail, there was no way I was doing the Watchtower route! For those that haven't seen it, there's a section that skirts along a 2,000 ft drop, no rails, nothing but exposure. Gives me the willies just thinking about it!


one step at a time
Jul 29, 2013
@Laura Thanks! heading up Watchtower was not as sketchy as coming down. only one step down gave me the heebie jeebies: right after clearing corner between two human size boulders there is a large step down with complete drop off to the right side. take slow, plant poles and use the small rock as a "stepping stone". totally worth the views!
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