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Enjoy the lush Sequoia forests, creeks, lakes and amazing granite views on the Lakes Trail on the overnight trek to Pear Lake in the glacially carved Tokopah Valley. BY MELISSA AVERY, Chasqui Mom
Distance: 13.5 miles – Overnight Backpacking with Children
Trail Type: Out and Back
Moving Time: 8 hours 20 minutes – Actual Time: 7 hours (each day)
More Information: National Park Service – Sequoia National Park
1. Wilderness Permit: A permit is required backpacking to Pear Lake. A permit can be obtained at Lodgepole Visitor center the day of your hike or after 1 p.m. the day before you hike. For more information on permits and trail conditions please visit: Sequoia National Park – Wilderness Permits & Reservations and Trail Conditions.
2. Family Backpacking: This overnight trip was completed by two adults, one child (hiked the entirety) and one partially carried toddler. I would recommend this trek for families with backpacking experience WITH children. This is a NOT a beginning-level family backpacking trek due to the altitude, elevation gain and distance of the trek.
3. No campfires allowed, so make sure a backpacking stove is part of your cooking gear. Campsites at Pear Lake have pit toilets and bear vaults; no bear canisters are needed. Water filtration system is necessary to drink the stream and lake water.
Mile 0.0: Start at Lakes Trail trailhead, near the Wolverton picnic area parking lot.
0.1: Turn right and continue on Lakes Trail hiking slightly uphill through the forest.
1.2: Lakes Trail turns right and follows along the peaceful babbling sounds of Wolverton Creek, watch for deer on the trails.
2.0: Turn left at the on Lakes Trail at the Y-Intersection (Lakes/Panther Gap Trail). Follow all signs to Pear Lake/Watchtower Trail.
2.3: Continue straight towards the Watchtower Trail and enjoy a shaded hike and small stream crossings. Keep an eye out for marmots!
3.6: Arrive at the Watchtower “view point” and take in the sheer granite Tokopah Valley. There are a couple of switch backs just before the Watchtower comes in view, so it’s a good location for a little break.
NOTE: The trail size stays the same but the trail goes along the Tokopah Valley granite cliff side. Younger toddlers should secured in carrier and older toddlers/children should hold an adults hand in case of tripping until just before arriving to Heather Lake.
4.5: Arrive at Heather Lake, the first of four lakes on the Lakes Trail over the remaining two miles. The granite mountain views after climbing out of Healther Lake are incredible. Wear sturdy boots, the trail becomes primarily granite rock after this point.
5.6: Arrive at Emerald Lake to the right of the trail and views of Aster Lake, Tokopah Valley to the left of the trail. There are pit toilets at Emerald Lake and campgrounds (permit required).
6.2: Continue straight (slight right) at the Pear Lake Ranger Station split off.
6.75: Arrive at Pear Lake. Set up camp at the designated 12 campsites. There are pit toilets and water can be filtered from the stream coming out of Pear Lake or the lake itself. Enjoy backcountry camping!
Retrace steps as this is an out-and-back trek for total mileage of 13.5 miles. The official mileage to Pear Lakes is 6.2 miles (12.4 miles round trip) but the added mileage is from lake exploring and walking around with children.
1. Water Features: Lakes and streams are great motivators to keep little children moving along the trail to find the next water source, especially after reaching Heather Lake there is a lake every time children need a break.
2. Remote Backcountry Feel: This is a popular day-hike (to Heather Lake) in a very accessible area of Sequoia National Park but heading out to Pear Lake, you will feel like you are in the remote backcountry of Sequoia National Park surrounding by fresh snow-melt lakes.
3. Spectacular Views: Enjoy the lush Sequoia forest scenery for the beginning section of the trek, followed by amazing granite terrain and snowcapped peaks for the second half of the trek.
4. Family Backpacking: Pear Lake is a great location to experience a more “challenging” family backpacking trek with a few “car camping” touches as in pit toilets and designated bear vaults. Families can still enjoy the California Sierra backcountry without having to hike long distances.
Family Backpacking Trip
Temp: Low 70’s F Sunny/High 40’s F (Early Summer)
Who: Two Adults, one young child and one toddler (partially carried)
Family Gear: One backpacking backpack, one framed kid carrier, one child backpack, hiking poles & backpacking gear
Food: Two Lunches – Backpacker Magazine Chicken Curry Wrap and Chasqui Mom‘s Mountain Spicy Taco; One Dinner – Backpacker Magazine’s Cheesy Sausage Pasta, One Breakfast – Chasqui Mom‘s Gruyere & Bacon Hashbrowns. Lots of additional snacks.
Lakes Trail, 6.2 Miles to Pear Lake [Photo by Melissa Avery]
Slight uphill on Lakes Trail near Wolverton [Photo by Melissa Avery]
Family creek crossings on Lakes Trail near Wolverton [Photo by Melissa Avery]
A few switchbacks is before reaching the Watchtower [Photo by Melissa Avery]
The Watchtower in Sequoia National Park. Granite! [Photo by Melissa Avery]
No rock scrambling to the Watchtower on this family trek [Photo by Melissa Avery]
Overlooking Tokopah Valley on the Watchtower Trail to Pear Lake [Photo by Melissa Avery]
Chasqui Mom and son backpacking almost to Heather Lake [Photo by Melissa Avery]
Peaceful Heather Lake [Photo by Melissa Avery]
Dad and son arriving to Emerald Lake “Granite Bowl” [Photo by Melissa Avery]
Sequoia National Park has some nice granite mountains. [Photo by Melissa Avery]
Chasqui Mom and daughter taking in the Aster Lake views [Photo by Melissa Avery]
Granite trails between Emerald lake Pear Lake. [Photo by Melissa Avery]
Hiking out of Emerald and Aster Lake to Pear Lake [Photo by Melissa Avery]
Lovely greenery in between all the granite trails [Photo by Melissa Avery]
Almost to Pear Lake with the kids! [Photo by Melissa Avery]
These mama boots are taking a break at Pear Lake [Photo by Melissa Avery]
The big Marmots were everywhere around Pear Lake Campground [Photo by Melissa Avery]
Pear Lake campground sits on a granite campsite with pit toilets! [Photo by Melissa Avery]
The peaks surrounding Pear Lake still had snow in early summer [Photo by Melissa Avery]
Overlooking the beautiful Tokopah Valley leaving Pear Lake [Photo by Melissa Avery]
Even in the Summer time Pear lake brings in changing weather [Photo by Melissa Avery]
- State: CA
- Distance: 0.0
- Land Type: National Park