A few Mondays ago, my coworkers and I planned a day hike to Heather Lake, an eight-mile out and back trail to one of the alpine lakes in the heart of Sequoia National Park. After finalizing plans, there were eight of us who committed to this hike – me, Thuan, Fred, Jamie, Ivy, Sam, Caleb and Jay. We met at the work parking lot bright and early at six in the morning, and made it to the Wolverton parking lot by eight in the morning!
Chris and I attempted this hike last September but we never finished so this time, I was very determined to get to the end of the trail. Jay works as a park ranger during summers for the national park system so it was pretty cool to hear fun facts as we hiked, which helped to ignore the elevation gain we experienced throughout this hike.
The trailhead began in the Wolverton parking lot, which plunged into a tree dense area. We walked through the giant tree forest for a good 1.8 miles before hitting the Watchman formation. The Watchtower trail provided stunning views of the Tokopah Valley, which includes Tokopah Falls and the Silliman Crest.
After taking a break and taking pictures, we decided to continue with our hike to Heather Lake. By the 4.2 mile (per the map; although my watch logged 5 miles one way), we made it to Heather Lake! Since the snow thaw has been slow this year, the lake was surrounded by sheets of ice and it was pleasantly empty, except for two European hikers we passed along the trail. We also met up with another coworker, Jenn, and her friend at the lake. I initially thought it was by chance but apparently Jenn was informed of the hike and she missed us in the parking lot by several minutes.
Apparently, the lake takes its name from copious growths of pink-flowering heather around the banks of the lake. While you can’t camp at Heather Lake, you can lounge around its shores for as long as you want. We spent an hour by the lake catching some sun, relaxing, refilling our water bottles (Jay and Fred own water filtering systems – so cool!) before we headed back out.
I lost my balance climbing over a log while avoiding the snow and ended up with a nasty bruise and a cut on my leg but thankfully, ya girl is a nurse and carried a first aid kit, and I was also surrounded by other nurses, ha! In addition to that, I also sprained by ankle coming back down from the mountain but it was all worth it!
Heather Lake via Watchtower Trail
Distance: approximately 8.2 miles (out and back)
Elevation Gain: 2,112 feet
Directions: Trailhead begins and is located in the overnight parking lot at Wolverton. When the trail starts, there will be a T-junction with the left leading to Lodgepole and the right leading to Alta Trail, Panther Gap & the Lakes Trail. Turn right to begin ascending the ridge. At some point, the were will be another junction which gives you the option of a harder incline via The Hump Trail on the right and to continue along the ridge on the left. Take your pick and tread lightly!