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Watchtower Trail

Intermediate/Difficult
 4.5 (4)

A stunning section of the Lakes Trail leading past a colossal granitic pinnacle overlooking a valley


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Map Key

1.9

Miles

3.0

KM

74%

Runnable

9,300' 2,835 m

High

8,294' 2,528 m

Low

1,008' 307 m

Up

2' 1 m

Down

10%

Avg Grade (6°)

31%

Max Grade (17°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers

This route is generally closed in winter months due to ice and snow along the trail and its sheer cliffs.

Description

From the Watchtower/Hump trail junction, continue ascending on this northern branch, following along the Watchtower Trail through the shady forest as it crosses a few seasonal creeks. Look for bright green corn lilies and abundant wildflowers along these creek beds in the early to mid summer. The trail then steepens and switchbacks a couple of times before reaching the Watchtower, a massive granite rock formation with sheer cliffs that overlooks the Tokopah Valley below. This is a rewarding spot to stop for a snack and enjoy the view.

Continue up the trail as it becomes increasingly rocky where it has been blasted out of the granite cliffs. The trail then descends to the other end of the Watchtower/Hump Trail junction. Continue along the Lakes Trail to reach Heather, Emerald, Aster, and Pear lakes.

Flora & Fauna

Look for corn lilies, ranger's buttons and columbine along lush creek beds in the early to mid summer. Bears are sometimes seen along the more forested sections of the trail, while marmots can often be spotted along the rockier portions.

Contacts

Shared By:

Charlotte Reed

Trail Ratings

  4.5 from 4 votes

#5

in Lodgepole

#7247

Overall
  4.5 from 4 votes
5 Star
75%
4 Star
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3 Star
25%
2 Star
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1 Star
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Trail Rankings

#5

in Lodgepole

#630

in California

#7,247

Overall
5 Views Last Month
6,028 Since Jul 18, 2016
Intermediate/Difficult

0%
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75%
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25%
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Photos

Marble Fork Kaweah River carving its way into the valley
Jul 22, 2017 near Three R…, CA
Lakes Trail: view down the canyon. The Watchtower is ahead but still not visible here.
Jul 22, 2017 near Three R…, CA
At the "Watchtower" looking straight down at "Tokopah Falls" below.
Aug 8, 2019 near Three R…, CA
The Watchtower
Jul 22, 2017 near Three R…, CA
View from Watchtower Trail
Jul 22, 2017 near Three R…, CA
Overlook on Lake Trail.
May 22, 2016 near Three R…, CA

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