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Rae Lakes Loop

Difficult
 5.0 (28) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

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


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Map Key

40.4

Miles

65.0

KM

Loop

11,904' 3,628 m

High

5,052' 1,540 m

Low

6,971' 2,125 m

Up

6,971' 2,125 m

Down

7%

Avg Grade (4°)

67%

Max Grade (34°)

Dogs No Dogs

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

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

Overview

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 2021.

Description

The 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.

Contacts

Shared By:

Luke Snow with improvements by Stuart Aaron and 1 other

Trail Ratings

  5.0 from 28 votes

#1

in Cedar Grove

#244

Overall
  5.0 from 28 votes
5 Star
96%
4 Star
4%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#1

in Cedar Grove

#36

in California

#244

Overall
100 Views Last Month
15,994 Since May 16, 2018
Difficult

0%
0%
13%
6%
74%
6%

Photos

Rae Lakes, Pacific Crest Trail, Kings Canyon National Park.
Dec 30, 2015 near Big Pine, CA
Fin Dome from the PCT.
Feb 3, 2016 near Big Pine, CA
The lowest of the Rae Lakes in front of Glen Pass.
Apr 29, 2019 near Big Pine, CA
The middle Rae Lake with Glen Pass in the far.
Apr 29, 2019 near Big Pine, CA
View from the final ascent to Glen Pass. You can see Diamond Peak and Black Mountains, and get glimpse of the Rae Lakes.
Apr 29, 2019 near Lone Pine, CA
Overlooking Charlotte Lake and Charlotte Creek water shed to the northwest. Beautiful spot!
Oct 31, 2018 near Lone Pine, CA

Weather


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Check-Ins

Sep 15, 2021
Kevin H
46mi — 19h 05m
Jul 4, 2021
Mark Adlard Stonepipe Adventures
We started at Onion Valley Campground TrailHead and came in over Kearsarge Pass 56.8mi
Jul 3, 2021
Liz Liz
Jul 1, 2021
Liz Liz
Going to Rae lakes
Jun 23, 2021
Rick Wang
clockwise loop 40.4mi
Jun 10, 2021
Ernest Johnson
Trail completed perfect weather and trail conditions — 3h 00m
Oct 1, 2020
Ernie Gochez
Leisure hike into Rae Lakes Loop 20mi
Aug 31, 2020
Mike H