Watchtower Trail to Heather Lake

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!


  • Soph
    August 11, 2019 at 3:07 AM

    It’s so handy that you got to do the hike with a ranger and learn things as you went along! These views are just stunning, you’re so lucky to get to so many beautiful places.
    Soph – x

  • Sophie Wentworth
    August 11, 2019 at 12:49 PM

    Those views are really something else. They all look so incredible! Shame you injured yourself but being a group of nurses is a major perk! Love the sound of this hike, and it seems like a good distance too. Doing it with a ranger must have been handy x


  • mercy
    August 11, 2019 at 5:55 PM

    I can’t believe there’s a mountain with snow at this time of the year in Ca. It must be in a very high elevation and kudos on you for reaching there. That’s scary though when you fell somewhere and bruised yourself. The photos of you on the edges look terrifying.

  • Geraldine
    August 11, 2019 at 7:13 PM

    Wow. Look at those views. You surely know all the greatest hiking spots! Aw girl sorry you injured yourself, but I guess you were with the best group for that haha! I’d love to hike with a ranger, I’d feel more secure and less lost… haha!

    Geraldine |

  • Britt
    August 12, 2019 at 6:51 AM

    The hiking trail is absolutely beautiful! I love getting out in nature and taking the beautiful views like that! This is a hiking spot that I haven’t been first hand, but after reading this, I feel like I really should add it to the ‘must visit’ list!

  • Hayley
    August 12, 2019 at 9:28 AM

    Wow this trail looks amazing!! You’re making me want to go back to the USA! What I would do for another day of hiking and a beautiful view.

    Hayley | hayleyxmartin

  • SundayDahlias
    August 12, 2019 at 10:09 AM

    This makes me want to go hiking, I haven’t gone in so long! I need some nature time

  • Anouk
    August 12, 2019 at 10:50 AM

    Great photos! I’ve just got back from hiking in Switerland and my biggest fear is to get injured. Hope you’re better now.


  • Allie Mackin
    August 12, 2019 at 2:23 PM

    Wow this is an ambitious hike! I did a little hiking when I was living in Seattle but they were pretty tame. My roommates took me on a hike once that was not too bad and the payoff/view was spectacular! But they would go on intensive over-night up the summit hikes, they were hardcore, or a least to me…a New Yorker lol

    Allie of

  • Kara
    August 12, 2019 at 4:29 PM

    The views on this hike are stunning and congrats on finishing the hike this time! 8.2 miles is a big accomplishment, but it helps when you’re surrounded by those views. This hike is definitely going on my list of hikes I want to do. I hope your ankle is feeling better!

    x Kara |

  • Nancy
    August 12, 2019 at 6:52 PM

    I love that you got to have an outing with your coworkers. Oh man, you’re so close to the national park! You guys don’t mess around. It is always nice when you have someone who really knows their way in your group. The views look so amazing! I’m still tripping out over the snow as it is HOT in LA right now. It is so cool that you all hiked over 8 miles!!! WHAT A CHAMP! Hope your ankle healed quick – glad you made it out in one piece though!

    Nancy ♥

  • Nancy Chan
    August 13, 2019 at 1:58 AM

    Beautiful views of your hike. You are so brave to tackle the hike. My legs will turn to jelly looking down from such great heights. Good thing you only sustain minor injuries during the hike.

  • Nancy Chan
    August 13, 2019 at 2:08 AM

    Beautiful view of the snowy mountain.

  • The Newbury Girl
    August 13, 2019 at 12:49 PM

    I’ve never heard of Heather Lake, but this looks so stunning. Looking at stunning nature scenes like this is always so breathtaking. I bet it was even prettier in person.

  • Deborah Kos
    August 13, 2019 at 3:22 PM

    I can’t believe just how beautiful the view is with the mountain tops. The images are breathtaking. The hike was well worth it.

  • Jill
    August 13, 2019 at 4:08 PM

    8 miles is impressive! Those views are beautiful! I would love to spend a day hiking there!

    Jill – Doused in Pink

  • Julie
    August 14, 2019 at 1:46 AM

    How awesome that you can hike to such spectacular views in a day hike! Looks like the trail was steep–hope your ankle heals quickly!

  • Jenny
    August 15, 2019 at 2:49 AM

    The landscape here is stunning, it makes me really want to visit the US. And how lovely that you do things like this with your coworkers, I wish there were hikes nearer to me that I could do with mine!

    Jenny | Local Leo

  • ThatAutisticFitChick
    August 15, 2019 at 10:36 AM

    You sound just like me hiking! It’s always almost inevitable that I fall and sprain something – I now have a particular mountain that I’ve sworn off ever climbing again because both times I’ve sprained ankles!

    It sounds like a really beautiful hike and so cool to have your own park ranger to give you all the fun facts!

  • Mica
    August 15, 2019 at 10:42 PM

    What a beautiful hike! It looks like such a nice place to visit – so many beautiful photos! 🙂 Glad you were okay after hurting yourself and it wasn’t too serious!

    Hope that your week has been a good one and you have a nice weekend ahead of you 🙂

  • SequoyC
    August 16, 2019 at 6:07 AM

    Its so cool to have bonding experiences with nature. And the scenery is breathtaking!

  • Lisa
    August 16, 2019 at 6:31 AM

    Oh my goodness, I nearly stopped reading at “eight-mile out and back trail”, that sounds like my worst nightmare, haha. Your photos are absolutely stunning though, I guess it makes the sprained ankle more bearable? And how cool to have your own personal ranger! Fab post, Eena 🙂 Lisa x

  • Michael Anderson
    August 17, 2019 at 9:49 AM

    Wow those are some mountains alright! I love the views and the fact that everything is so expansive. I can just imagine you bruising your leg and then a million nurses swarm around you with first aid kits! Glad to hear that you were alright though and that the hike was a success!

  • Avalon
    August 17, 2019 at 10:04 AM

    Wow, this trail looks so great – and those views. I can only imagine how peaceful it must have been.

    xx Avalon from Simply Avalon

  • Radi
    August 17, 2019 at 11:46 PM

    So stunning! I would love this type of morning hike… very energizing!

  • Abdel
    August 18, 2019 at 7:12 AM

    Sounds like you had a great time! love all the photos
    Happy Sunday 🙂

  • Simone
    August 18, 2019 at 11:43 AM

    The views are very spectacular! This trail looks so amazing.

    xx Simone
    Little Glittery Box

  • April Rodea
    August 18, 2019 at 7:00 PM

    It has been years since my last hike. This made me want to plan one again. Hiking is tough but very rewarding. The view from the top will definitely take your breath away. And as always, great shots you got here Eena. x

  • Katrina
    August 19, 2019 at 6:16 AM

    Gorgeous, absolutely gorgeous! What a way to spend the day. Sorry to hear about your injuries, but glad that you had fun despite them!

  • Anna
    August 19, 2019 at 11:53 AM

    Looks like an awesome hike! The mountain views are gorgeous! Glad that it all ended up well with a bruise and a cut on your leg cause you´ve had a first aid kit. Being a nurse and being surrounded by nurses might make those situations a bit easier cause you know what to do.


  • Jessica
    August 19, 2019 at 7:55 PM

    This looks lovely. WHat a majestic view indeed.

    Jessica |

  • Gabrielle
    August 20, 2019 at 2:38 PM

    Oh wow, you can also smell and feel the crisp, cold and fresh air up there through the screen haha. Definite travel envy right now babe!! x

  • Chocoviv
    August 23, 2019 at 4:35 PM

    This type of weather is what I will miss when summer is over….

  • Zorica
    August 25, 2019 at 3:21 AM
  • sarah
    August 27, 2019 at 12:56 AM

    Oh wow! The scenery is really beautiful! This is what I like about having a coworker, you get to go with them and have adventures. I’ve never hiked before so this is something I always wanted to do. I’m sorry about your bruised but I’m glad you’re able to bounce back.

  • Jacob
    August 28, 2019 at 12:53 AM

    Thanks for sharing, this is lovely
    new post:

  • Patricia & Miguel
    August 28, 2019 at 4:32 AM

    I would love to do that trail one day, absolutely incredible landscapes 😀

  • Kim
    August 28, 2019 at 7:24 PM

    Omg those views! So sorry to hear that you sprained your ankle, but it’s awesome to have that security blanket (being surrounded by nurses – and being one yourself!) Glad you finally conquered this trail!

  • Zorica
    August 31, 2019 at 8:25 AM

    The landscape is just out of this world
    My Instagram:
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  • Via Singh
    September 8, 2019 at 7:10 PM

    Oh wow! This was a great trip. We love visiting National Parks. In our recent summer vacation we did a road trip and visited Yellow Stone National Park and Glacier National park. I hope your ankle is fine. 🙂

    Via |


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