On my first trip to Sequoia National Park, I went with my family and saw what the park is famous for: really, really big trees:
Now, don't get me wrong, the trees are truly amazing. There is no way to grasp their freakish size without actually seeing them. However, what I didn't realize on my first visit is that Sequoia National Park is located in the Sierra Nevada mountain range and has some majestic lakes and mountains that rival those of Yosemite.
It wasn't till my third trip to Sequoia that I hiked the Lakes trail. This trail starts at Wolverton on the north side of the parking lot. For some time the trail climbs steadily up through an unremarkable forest; however, take the north rout when the trail branches off, and you will gain an awesome vantage point on a deep canyon. As you climb, the trees abruptly give way to a sweeping granite landscape.The first two lakes are on either side of the trail. They're small, icy (even in summer) and beautiful blue. The water's perfectly pure; I drank some unfiltered from Emerald Lake.
A Little Extra Adventure
When my friends and I hiked this trail, It was a hot August day. The water, so pure and cool, seemed irresistible, so I jumped in. After swimming twenty or thirty feet out into the lake, I thought, why not get a little exercise and swim across the whole thing. It wasn't until I was about half way across the lake that I realized how big it was. When I finally got to the other side, I was half drowned and full of more lake water than I had planned on drinking.
At this altitude, there are patches of snow even in August. Look closely at the above photograph and you can see small bits of snow on the mountain backdrop.
Even a rather large panorama cannot capture the beauty of this hike. Go there! It is truly amazing. Note the snow on the far right of this panorama.
From the National Park Service: Lakes Trail (Wolverton): Moderate climb. No campfires at the lakes or in the Tablelands beyond. Camp only at numbered sites at Emerald and Pear Lakes. 6.1 miles (9.8 km) to Pear Lake. First campsite - Emerald Lake (5 miles/8 km) Limit 25 people/day depending on campsite availability (no reservations).
For maps of Sequoia National Park, check out Brochures and Maps.