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Sixty Lakes Basin Trail

Intermediate/Difficult
 3.3 (3)

Experience a basin filled with Alpine Lakes with a backdrop of high and low granite ridges.


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Map Key

3.2

Miles

5.2

KM

Point to Point

11,228' 3,422 m

High

10,547' 3,215 m

Low

731' 223 m

Up

697' 213 m

Down

8%

Avg Grade (5°)

44%

Max Grade (24°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Commonly Backpacked · Lake · River/Creek · Swimming · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Wilderness permits are required all year. Daily entry quotas apply from Memorial Day to late September. Permits can be reserved online, but you must go into a ranger station to get the actual permit. No night drops are allowed. One-fourth of the quota is available on a walk-up, first-come-first-served basis, starting the day prior to departure. No campfires are allowed above 10,000 feet.

Description

The Sixty Lakes Basin is bordered on the west and south by the rugged, almost 13,000 foot high King Spur. The ridge on the east is high in the south, but diminishes to nothing as it goes northward. Many of the lakes in the basin are arrayed near the main stream, which the trail follows down the gently sloping valley. However, the most beautiful lakes are a short distance above the trail and closer to the King Spur.

Sixty Lakes Basin has far fewer visitors than Rae Lakes, and those that come are usually on a day hike from Rae Lakes or spend only one night camped in the basin. With so little time, it is difficult to visit more than one of the higher lakes. You may not see anyone if you camp at a higher lake.

The easiest way to reach the Sixty Lakes Basin by trail requires a strenuous hike from Onion Valley, including about 4000 feet of climbing over 11.5 miles. The trail branches from the JMT just before the JMT crosses the stream between the two Rae Lakes. It passes around a swampy area near the northern Rae Lake and then climbs about 600 feet over the ridge that separates Rae Lakes from the Sixty Lakes Basin. Throughout this climb, there are sweeping views back over Rae Lakes toward the main Sierra Crest. There is a small, beautiful lake just before the top.

Once over the ridge, the trail drops about 400 feet over the next half mile while passing small lakes that are samples of the more beautiful lakes only a short distance above the trail. Views over the basin are best in the morning. The trail follows the main stream gently down the shallow canyon for a little over a mile and ends near the point where the stream drops steeply down to the South Fork of the Kings River.

In the other direction, there is a spectacular and relatively easy off-trail route from Glenn Pass to the Sixty Lakes Basin. This is significantly shorter and has somewhat less climbing than going down to the Rae Lakes junction and climbing back up on the Sixty Lakes Trail. Leave the JMT in the lake basin that you reach at the bottom of the switchbacks. Head northwest between the lakes toward an obvious low point in the ridge. Once over the ridge, scramble down to Lake 3353 and onto the Sixty Lakes Trail.

Contacts

Shared By:

Lee Watts

Trail Ratings

  3.3 from 3 votes

#20909

Overall
  3.3 from 3 votes
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Trail Rankings

#2,273

in California

#20,909

Overall
90 Views Last Month
1,851 Since Sep 8, 2015
Intermediate/Difficult

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Photos

Looking north from the beginning of the gently sloping Sixty Lakes Basin Canyon. Mt. Clarence King is on the left. The mountains in the distance are on the far side of the South Fork of the Kings River and the JMT
Aug 17, 2017 near Big Pine, CA
Looking east from gap leading to Sixty Lakes Basin. Dragon Peak is in the center on the far ridge. Black Mtn, 13290 ft., is on the left side
Aug 17, 2017 near Big Pine, CA
Evening sun on Rae Lakes and Sierra crest. Dragon Peak is in the left center on the far ridge. Painted Lady and Mt. Rixford are on the far right
Aug 17, 2017 near Big Pine, CA
This is the first on-trail lake that you reach in Sixty Lakes Basin
Aug 17, 2017 near Big Pine, CA

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Aug 11, 2017
Maria Kolakowska
Aug 10, 2017
Simon Favreau-Lessard
The first 2 miles are well marked but there's next to no trail for the last mile. Great remote side trail off the JMT/PCT, *lots* of mosquitos.