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Rae Lakes Loop

  4.9 ( 18 ) Favorite


40.4 mile 65.0 kilometer loop


Ascent: 6,971' 2,125 m
Descent: -6,971' -2,125 m
High: 11,904' 3,628 m
Low: 5,052' 1,540 m


Avg Grade: 7% (4°)
Max Grade: 67% (34°)


No Dogs
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Trail shared by Luke Snow

One of the most famous loops in all of the Sierras with stunning canyons, pristine lakes, and rolling granite domes.

Luke Snow

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

This loop is entirely within Kings Canyon National Park and requires a permit. All National Park rules apply.


One of the most popular backpacking loops in all of the Sierras, this epic journey starts out journeying up a canyon and makes its way towards one of the most scenic and stunning areas in the High Sierras, if not all of California.

Need to Know

The South Fork Kings River Bridge above Paradise Valley washed out during the winter of 2016-2017. Construction of a replacement bridge will not begin before 2019.


The counter-clockwise route is considered less strenuous and typically the way the route is completed. Starting from the trailhead, the route starts out in the valley floor. Once you reach the junction with Bubbs Creek Trail, bear north following the South Fork (Paradise) Trail. This will start a gradual ascent of the drainage that is laced with eye-popping views.

The South Fork (Paradise) trail terminates into the Upper Paradise - Woods Creek Crossing, where you'll bear east and continue a gradual ascent. Grandiose views of the Castle Domes will greet you as you near the junction with the famed John Muir Trail (JMT: Segment 6 - Bishop Pass at LeConte Canyon to Kearsage Pass Trail). Once arriving to the trail, head south to the ultimate reward of the hike, the string of stunning alpine lakes that each outdo the next in beauty. This is a good spot to establish camp for one of your nights.

Make the climb to Glenn Pass, a true gem of the West. Soak in the commanding views and start your descent to the Bubbs Creek Trail, bearing west. This trail tracks a picturesque stream that, depending on the time of year, roars down the canyon. You'll eventually meet back up with the South Fork (Paradise) Trail, continuing the descent back to the trailhead where, after 40 of some of the best miles California has to offer, the car will be waiting.

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Aug 27, 2019
Egan Huang
Oct 15, 2018
Rachel Solnick
Took four day fast hike, sore at the end but doable, just lot of walking 45mi
Oct 6, 2018
Rachel Solnick
Sep 24, 2018
Mallory Fossa
Spectacular! Everyday was amazing! 40.4mi
Sep 18, 2018
Cassie Rivkin
Sep 15, 2018
Ryan Miller
Epic! My favorite hike ever?
Sep 4, 2018
Ben C
Absolutely amazing hike! We did it counter-clock wise over 5 days. We saw no bears or rattle snakes, minimal bugs and no mosquitoes. 2 thundershowers.
Aug 16, 2018
Harry Schmachtenberger
counter-clockwise loop 4days 3nights with the best Sarah bub

Trail Ratings

  4.9 from 17 votes


in Cedar Grove


  4.9 from 17 votes
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