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10 days ago

Stunning hike, hardly a dull moment anywhere on this trail. We did the loop clockwise in 4 days camping at Upper Paradise Valley, Middle Rae Lake and Junction Meadow. Would have spent an extra day at the Rae Lakes if we had the time. We went just after the permit season ended and the weather was perfect but did get cold at night. No crossings and very few bugs. Abundant access to water for most of the trail except the Glen pass area. Highly recommend.

backpacking
12 days ago

WARNING: this trail is NOT 37 miles. NPS has accurate mileage information: https://www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/rae-lakes-loop.htm

Could not have come at a better time. Fall colors are in the trees! Great hike with magnificent views! Pretty steady climb

backpacking
15 days ago

Did the loop from 9/26-9/29. Gnats were a pain from 5,000-7,000ft. Save yourself endless swatting and bring a head net.

I've been to the top of Baldy at least 10 times over the past year or so, but I never went up Ski Hut/Baldy Bowl until today. Just like it looks on the map, it's one of the more direct trails to the summit, albeit quite a bit less scenic that the other options. It would be a nice way for newbie hikers to check Baldy off their 6 pack list, but for a much more scenic experience, consider at least descending via Devils Backbone. If you have legs and lungs for something more challenging, skip Baldy Bowl and take a romp up Register Ridge or Bear Canyon.

As of Sept 10th 2018 there was water available near the Ski Hut if you want to do the first few miles light and filter later.

Spectacular!! Spent 3 unusual days on the trail, starting at Roads End where we were told we couldn’t go clockwise around the loop. At that time, we felt like it wasn’t a big deal but it definitely changed the trip. After many conversations with other hikers we discovered Counter has a much steeper incline with several switchbacks on your 2 day journey to Glenn’s Pass, whereas Clockwise is still up hill the entire way, but the incline is more gradual. We hiked Day 1 from Roads End to Junction Meadow, around 10 miles steeply uphill and it kicked our butt pretty good. Saw a rattle snake on the trail which was pretty cool. Met a lot of really cool hikers of all backgrounds. It was a challenging hike with many rewards. Day 2 we had a shorter day as my partner was beginning to experience the effects of altitude and we made it to Charlotte Lake around 2 pm to camp for the night. I highly recommend this beautiful spot. Unfortunately throughout the night my partner’s symptoms worsened so we had to get up early and head the 17 miles back down to Roads End. I can say heading down this side of the trail was amazingly beautiful! All in all a great 3 days and because I wasn’t able to make the summit and swim in Rae Lake, it is a great motivation to head back next year for round 2.

Amazing views.

backpacking
17 days ago

We did the loop in clockwise direction in 3 days and 3 nights. Would have been really tough the other direction. Wish we had spent longer at Rae Lakes, it's really a magical place. We went in September right after quota season ended. They now have self-issue permits. The climb was reasonable, good footing in terms of traction, so trekking poles are probably unnecessary, but it did vary from sand-like gravel to boulders. Trail was always obvious. We encountered people every 3 miles or so, more at campsites obviously.

Temperature was in 80s during the day and quite hot in some of the areas without shade. Dropped to 40s at night, pretty chilly with wind. Sun went down behind the mountains around 5:30 and went up around 7. No precipitation and only saw a couple small snow patches around Glen Pass. Bugs were active the first and last 3 miles of the loop towards Roads End.

Bear containers are a must. We encountered 4 who were easily spooked by yelling and waving arms. Didn't see rattlesnakes.

No campfires above 10,000. Recommended campsites: Upper Paradise, Rae Lakes, Junction Meadow.

We had 1L of water per person with us as you have easy access to a stream or a lake almost the whole time. We had Purinize drops and Lifestraw.

backpacking
18 days ago

Gorgeous! We were a group of 4 and we did the clockwise loop in three days and two nights.

The first day we did 16 miles from roads end to woods creek (all gradual uphill). We had a bear in our camp at night trying to get into nearby bear canisters.

Second day we did 14 miles from woods creek to Charlotte Lake. The Rae Lakes area was breathtaking and Glen Pass was a killer!

Last day we had 16 miles to get to roads end but luckily all nice and gradual downhill.

We all would recommend that you actually did this in 4 days and 3 nights instead. This would have give us more time to just chill and enjoy the beautiful nature.

Enjoy!

hiking
21 days ago

Completed in 15h17m car to car as a CCW day loop. More gruelling than I expected, primarily the descent which I expected to be easier. If I did this again in a day I’d go clockwise to save my knees.

Perfect weather and gorgeous views I’d love to be back again next year to take more time to soak in the views and camp down at Rae Lakes.

Perhaps the single best view was of the canyon basked in the light of a full moon five miles from Roads End travelling south along Paradise Valley Trail.

Very few mossies but I travelled the first and last 5 miles in darkness. Saw four bears (1 just after dawn, 4 after sunset - all within 10 miles of Roads End), a marmot, an incredibly close deer, numerous chipmunks and no rattlers. The south fork of Kings River is now so low that you can hop across rocks to cross - no need to seek out log jams.

backpacking
26 days ago

Successfully tackled this adventure as a 3 day/2 night backpacking trip with three great friends. We took the clockwise route around the loop trail. Note that the total distance was longer than indicated in the description of this hike. The National Parks Service web site indicates that the loop trail distance is 41.4 miles long. Our hike was just over 46 miles in all. The difference in distance is likely a combination of GPS accuracy and some side treks along the way. Camping at Charlotte Lake for our second night did add 2.6 miles to the overall distance. Our hiking itinerary was as follows (distances as indicated by GPS tracking):
Day 1 - Road's End to Woods Creek Crossing (16 miles)
Day 2 - Woods Creek Crossing to Charlotte Lake (14 miles)
Day 3 - Charlotte Lake to Road's End (16.07 miles)

Overall this is an epic hike! One of my new favorites. Completing it in 3 days is a physical challenge, which may be easier for some than others. Climbing to the summit of Glenn Pass from either direction is taxing. Have plenty of water, electrolytes, energy gels, or whatever else may give you the strength to persevere.

The scenery is fantastic, wildlife encounters are memorable (deer, marmot, pika, squirrels, chipmunks, snakes, lizards, and bear). We didn't fish but we did talk with a few others who were fishing along the way and they all reported great success.

loved the trail. It starts at high elevation, think about 9300 but didn't feel any different. The views are just fantastic. Blue lake is beautiful but had lots of people around. We went further to Dingleberry lake which was amazing and a lot less crowded(adding a little unintended detour on the way as well), clocked about 9.8 miles. It was too late to continue further to midnight lake but that is just another mile or so further for those who start out earlier than we did.

backpacking
1 month ago

Hiking this trail was an amazing experience. We went with a clockwise three night plan. Camped at upper paradise, middle Rae, and junction meadow. All three were great camps. You will travel through thick shady woods, grassy open meadows, and rocky alpine trails, all surrounded by gorgeous peaks. We saw a bear .5 mile past upper paradise, a family of deer at Rae, a marmot, a snake (not rattler), fish, chipmunks. The nights are much colder past 10,000ft elev. There is lots of water along the trail, but from Rae over glen pass to lake Charlotte, there isn’t much. You do get swarmed with gnats in the lower miles to start and finish the loop. Luckily, I brought my mosquito head net. The crossing was only lower shin deep. The suspension bridge was awesome. Had to walk across a second time just for fun. Also, a good time chatting with the JMT hikers from woods creek crossing to over glen pass. A friendly trail crew were blasting rock above vidette meadow, so we got held up for about 20 minutes, but it was nice talking to them and cool to hear the explosion. I definitely recommend this adventure.

hiking
1 month ago

Camped at the Sentinel campground the night before our permit date for Rae Lakes. Was able to secure a counter-clockwise loop. To get an early morning start, got to the Road's End permit station around 8AM. There were a couple of people ahead of us. Fro being outside the peak season, the trail was still quite busy.

IMPORTANT: bring a bug net, mosquitoes are in full force the first 3-5 miles in either direction.

Saw 1 bear near the Road's end station and 1 rattler about 1/4 before the first bridge (Bailey?).

Really enjoyed the CCW direction. You work hard the first 2 days and the 3rd/4th day should be a breeze. Camped at Vidette Meadow Day 1, and Middle/Upper Rae Day 2...near bear box 3. Planned on camping at Lower Paradise for Day 4, but had the energy and daylight to finish on Day 3.(big miles but mostly downhill).

Difficult, but rewarding. Amazing view!

backpacking
1 month ago

Can't say we completed the entire loop unfortunately. We entered at Roads End on 8/24/18 where we prepared for the clockwise loop starting on the woods creek trail. We were told about a "small" fire at Bubbs Creek and told not to report it as it was less than 1/2 an acre and the park crew were fully aware. We were told it wouldn't impede us and it was "insignificant". Unfortunately we got turned around at the Bubbs Creek Trail/JMT-PCT junction and had to back track and exit over Kearsarge pass into Onion Valley because the fire had spread and the trail was closed.
The trail up to Bubbs Creek was very well maintained and the scenery breath taking. We ran into a trail crew along the JMT/PCT and thanked them for their upkeep of the trail. They really do a stellar job at keeping the trail well maintained.
Upper Paradise Valley and Rae Lakes are both very busy for camping areas so plan to get there early to ensure a good spot. There were a lot of bugs until we reached Upper Paradise; they weren't a bother at all after that point. We had heard they were a nuisance at Arrowhead and Rae Lakes but we had no issue in late August.
Our planned itinerary:
Day 1 - Ranger Station to Upper Paradise
Day 2 - Upper Paradise to Arrowhead Lake
Day 3 - Arrowhead Lake to Rae Lakes (short day to ensure time at Rae Lakes)
Day 4 - Rae Lakes to Sphinx Junction. This ended up being Rae Lakes to Bubbs Creek, back to Kearsarge Pass to Onion Valley
Day 5 - Sphinx to Ranger station

1 month ago

A 1988 Anuerism/Major Stroke Survivior completed the trail 4 days in 2000, and 6 days in 2018. The latest was a lot more difficult and exhausting but just as beautiful and exciting. Except the 2 encounters with Ratters.

1 month ago

The Rae Lakes trail is awesome! Varied, difficult, and breathtakingly beautiful, and sometimes a little scary! Saw bears twice on the trail in the middle of the afternoon a bit too close for comfort, but survived. My favorite heavenly spot was first encountering the reflection of Finn Dome in Rae Lakes in that gorgeous valley.

We had a beautiful day on this trail! This was our second year doing it but the first year we went to Donkey Lake (awesome!). Today we hiked past Blue Lake and on to Dingleberry Lake. We started at 11:00 and got back to the trailhead at 4:30. (8.66 miles). GPS is a little off from what is listed in the description (about 3.0 miles to Blue Lake).
Lots of backpackers heading up and back while we were there. The trail was absolutely gorgeous and lined with wildflowers and smelled like vanilla, honeysuckle, sage and pine. We had some rain when we reached our end point so turned back. Be prepared for light or moderate showers in the afternoon, even if it says 20% chance! Great trail for people who are in good shape and love the outdoors!

Great hike. We spent 6 days doing the loop with a zero day near Rae lakes.

fabulous hike, as good as it gets. spectacular peaks, pretty flowers, burbling Brook, serene ponds/lakes and well maintained trail. we achieved the pass, but not the peak. Mt Starr is formidable due to loose rock, scree and v steep.

Great trail. Not too bad of a hike. It was a little further than the 2.5 miles it says it to be one way. It’s closer to 3-3.5 one way. Beautiful the whole way.

Enjoyed this trail and the water falls. Easier than Kearsarge in my opinion and not very busy. Many thanks to the new owner of Bishop Pack Outfitters for fixing the gully with rock slides.

backpacking
1 month ago

This is an absolutely spectacular backpacking trip in the Sierras. Old growth forests, massive granite walls, alpine lakes, mountain pass, rivers....everything. We just completed the counter clockwise loop in 4 days. We spend the first night at Vidette meadow.
We started around 9am, got to Junction meadow at 4ish, decided it was worth it to push up to Vidette (after a bit of rain in Junction). So glad we did that, made day 2 a lot shorter and more time at Rae lake, which we arrived on the second day at noonish. Glen pass is tough either way you go. Rae Lakes is stunning and I found out why so many people told me this is one of their favorite places on the JMT.
The hike out of Rae descends into the canyon, and you will be exposed to the hot sun, nearly the entire way to upper paradise. We didn't leave Rae until 9am because we were drying out our gear in the sun from the heavy morning dew. I wish we left earlier and just packed a wet tent.
Upper paradise is shaded, heavily treed and beautiful. We had a small bear waltz through camp that evening. We got up early on day 4 and made it to the car by 1030.

I prefer to CCW direction, however many said they prefer the CW route. I like to get the elevation out of the way and then rest at Rae and head down hill, instead of climbing out of Rae lakes, just my take.
Few things:
-The bugs are swarming along the first 5 or so miles in each direction. GET A BUG NET...Seriously.....
-Start hiking early each day to avoid afternoon monsoons or HOT sunny weather.
-no issues with any crossings (the water is shin deep where the bridge is out)

I have been on dozens of backpacking trips throughout the sierras and this is one of my favorites.

I logged 3.4 miles in and 3.2 miles out. this is not 5 miles round trip like it shows. I was closer to the trailhead than where this track is actually located, so if anything it should have been shorted. the hike was pretty easy. I had about 30-40 pounds in my pack. didn't have problems with the elevation until I got to the top and sat down. Started getting light headed and dizzy. the hike up is beautiful and the view at the top is gorgeous. next time up there I am planning to camp overnight.

very steep but rewarding.

backpacking
1 month ago

One of the greatest Sierra hikes I have ever done. We took 7 days to complete the CW loop so we could take our time while on the JMT portion. It was well worth it and highly encourage anyone with the time to do the same. We saw 2 Bears at middle paradise but they never messed with us, however the squirrels at middle Rae Lake did. They attempted to eat into our snack bags within minutes of us taking a break! The trail was in good shape with the exception of the bridge being out at upper paradise (feet wet crossing) and another one just before Bubbs ands Woods creek meet up (easy bolder hop).

backpacking
2 months ago

Made this Clockwise hike with Dan M (previous review). I’d like to emphasize our selection of camp sights as I felt ours was a great way to enjoy the best part of this loop. If you’re hiking the Rae Lakes Loop why not spend some time at Rae Lakes?

Day 1 - Ranger Station to Upper Paradise

Day 2 - Upper to Dollar Lake. Sure, with an early start, you can make it Rae Lakes, but this would be a tough ~14 mile day with ~3,600’ of elevation gain putting you at Rae late afternoon when most of the better Camp sites are taken. And then since you can only stay 1 night at Rae you’re out the next morning having only spent the evening and night at the best part of this trail.

Day 3 - Dollar to Rae Lakes. This is a short 4 mile hike. The crown jewel of this hike is Rae Lakes. The Dollar Lake stop puts you at Rae before noon, with your choice of any Campsite. We selected the little peninsula in the NW corner of Upper Rae just to the east of the little strait or stream connecting Upper and Middle. We were able to relax here all day, swimming in both Upper and Middle, fishing, talking with the exhausted clockwise hikers coming from Upper and the counterclockwise hikers coming thru the pass. Also enjoyed talking with all the JMT’ers and PCT’ers. This was an awesome, relaxing, well-needed restful day for some Hikers from Louisiana (elevation 12 feet).

Day 4 - Rae to Sphinx - up early to enjoy the views from Glen pass at dawn. It’s all down hill (stairs) from here. This is about 14 miles. You can make it all the way but for us it would’ve been late and we didn’t want to drive the 2 hours back to Fresno on that winding mountain road at dusk.

Day 5 - Sphinx back to the Ranger Station.

If you have 4 nights I recommend this itinerary. If we had to do it over again we perhaps make Day 4 shorter and Day 5 longer.

All in all a great hike! Enjoy.

hiking
2 months ago

We were a group consisting of two 50 year old boys and three 20ish year old men. We did the loop clockwise camping 4 nights. Camping spots were Upper Paradise, Dollar Lake, Upper Rae Lake, and Spynx.
River crossing at Upper was fine as we utilized a log jam roughly 200 yards downstream from the bridge location. The only issues we had was with water filtration due to our filter choices but it did slow us down to enjoy the views and catch our breath. We carried each one liter and I would recommend 2 liters for the pass as its a long haul over to the next fill up area. I would also recommend an early start for the pass as it does get warm fast. We started at 6 A.M. to cross over Glen. Saw bears at upper and spynx.

backpacking
2 months ago

I've read somewhere that this is the most often done hike in the High Sierra and it is easy to see why. You really get the taste of just about everything here - from lush meadows, pleasant forests and swift rivers with waterfalls to snowy mountain passes and crystal lakes, and all that beauty in a loop that can be done in a couple of days! You really can't go any better than this.
We did our hike in the clockwise direction in 3 and a 1/2 days and it wouldn't be that difficult to do it in 3 if needed.
On the first day, we started from the permit station at around 10am and reached the Upper Paradise by mid-afternoon. The bridge over the river is still out and we met several groups of people who turned back at the sight of the river that needs to be forded. That said, with hiking poles for extra support and sandals or water-shoes to give you some grip, we didn't really feel that it would be quite that bad. Mid-June, the water reached to just around the upper part of my thighs (I'm 6'1") and I'm sure that later in summer, it will be lower than that (if you're not unlucky with rain).
On the second day, first thing in the morning, we forded the river and hiked up to where the trail meets the PCT/JMT (in the upper right "corner" on the map) and followed those to the Upper Rae Lake where we set up camp at around 5 or 6pm. This was by far the most strenuous day of the hike with 3600+ feet of elevation gain and quite a few up-and-down bits, especially in the first part, which added some extra feet to boot. Nevertheless, the views along this section are just spectacular as you slowly ascend above the treeline, and the lakes themselves are simply breath-taking.
On the third day, we started with the first light in order to reach Glen pass before the sun would soften the snow, making it more difficult and dangerous to walk on. Especially since we didn't have any micro-spikes or snow-axes, we were a bit worried but, as it turns out, with hiking poles and sturdy boots, the pass was nowhere near as bad as we had feared. Later in summer, things are bound to get even easier, but I would definitely think twice about doing this when there is a lot of snow. After you reach the pass, it's all downhill from there and there was no snow at all on the southern side, making the descent a walk in the park. We reached Charlotte Meadows by around 3:30pm and for a moment we debated whether to stick to the plan and set up camp there or hike all the way back to the car. In the end, we decided to take it easy and spent the rest of the afternoon bird-watching, but it's easy to see how one could make it from the Lakes back to the permit station in a day, albeit a fairly hard one.
On the fourth day, it only took a couple of hours to get to the end.
So, in summary, this hike is definitely right there in the top best hikes that I've ever done and I can happily recommend it to anyone who likes the outdoors and is not afraid of backpacking.
As other have said, the clockwise direction seemed easier with the ascent being more gradual, and I also felt that it worked better in terms of dividing the trail into manageable sections in a way that you get to camp by the lakes, which I can't recommend enough.
Finally, while on the trail, particularly in the lower sections, keep an eye out for rattlesnakes - we encountered two, and one of them let us get within striking distance before it started rattling, all coiled up and scary as hell. We froze and it slithered backwards off the trail while still coiled (I didn't even know that they can do that!) never once taking it's eyes off us, so no harm done, but it did scare me a lot. We haven't seen any bears but plenty of deer, a variety of lizards, birds, some marmots and a pika at the top of Glen Pass.

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