Explore Backpack - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Backpack Map
1 day ago

I started this loop from onion valley and did it counterclockwise. I believe it is a harder route starting from the eastern Sierra side, which added an extra 10 miles or so, but the hike up and over kearsarge pass is well worth the extra mileage.

It took 4 days at a relatively moderate pace to complete the loop. My last day was only a six mile day so it is definitely possible to do it in 3 days starting from onion valley.

Mosquitos weren’t too bad in late July though I’ve heard that they’re horrendous earlier in the season. Bugs other than mosquitos were a nuisance so I highly recommend a bug net around your head which I wore half the hike.

There are plenty of people on the trail with pct and jmt hikers making their way on the eastern parts of the loop.

Visually stunning.

6 days ago

We did this trip counter clockwise from Oct 5-12. We tacked on a few side trips including Kearsarge Lakes and 60 Lakes Basin. We had one snow storm the day before doing Glen Pass but we just delayed our ascent a few hours until the sun had melted the pass on the south side and then things were not that bad. It was spectacular. I would recommend spending at least one day at Rae Lakes, it is the jewel of the hike. Water was available along the entire trip except for the ascent up Glen Pass. I carried 1 liter of water on me the entire trip and it worked well for me. Bring warm clothes as several nights got down into the teens. We saw several bears but they all kept their distance from us and we had no negative encounters. Bugs were almost non-existant but we did see 4 different snake species including a rattlesnake the first day hiking in. This was definitely a worth while trip and I will do it again.

6 days ago

Awesome views from the top! If you plan on hiking during the summer, start as early as possible.

Be sure to bring plenty of water and snacks with you but don’t overload yourself because this is a serious hike where every pound will be felt throughout the hike.

It was not that busy when we started out during a June 14th hike but on the way down we saw LOTS of people coming up during the midday sun.

Bring more water than you think you’re going to need. It was 95 by noon when I made it to the top. I had 5L on me and just about ran out at the top.

This was my first solo backpacking trip and my first time in Yosemite and this was the perfect route for both. I completed the route over 3 days 2 nights through the pouring rain most of the time but it didn’t even matter. The scenery was unreal from the beginning to end. I stayed at booth lake the first night and the morning scenery was beautiful there. I stayed a little past Merced Lake on the second night on a cliff overlooking the Merced River. I didn’t see a single soul until my last day when I hit the valley. What an amazing experience I can’t wait to return next spring.

So pretty!! The waterfall is super small in October which is the only time I’ve done it but the fall colors in the leaves make up for it. the views from the top make it 100% worth it!

This one is a beast!!! It is beautiful, but challenging, so don't underestimate it. There are lots of switch backs and there is very little shade when you get to the top, so make sure you have plenty of water and sunscreen. Also, be aware that the falls dry up as early as July, so this trail is really better hiked in the Spring. There are a good number of hikers on this trail, but it is not overly packed. Make sure to bring snacks as well since this one is about six miles round trip.

15 days ago

I’ve hiked this trail several times and love the scenery and views. It can be challenging though, with an aggressive grade, unpredictable afternoon rain showers and at certain times, heavy mosquito hatches that can eat you up. The cross country trek to Grouse Lake is especially worth the trip particularly if you enjoy fly fishing.

Great hike, but don’t underestimate the challenge. In October the wind shoots up from the Valley and is cold. Short jump up so keep a light pack as every pound counts on the relentless switchbacks. This is a essential hike to add the your Yosemite inventory. Have fun.

As consistently said the 1st 3.8 or so are all up tough switchbacks little chitchat and grind. Then you hit a very cool forest hike. 3 of us went up in the beginning of October, started from Camp 4 at 5:15 AM, out and back in 10 hours. We stopped for lunch on Eagle Peak and just to chill on El Cap. We maintain a strong pace. 4 liters of water is plenty that time of year, probably 5 in summer heat. Watch the pack weight.

Top of El Cap is flat & rocky, but the views are fantastic. Never found the marker. If you hike in Yosemite this is a must do hike, that said I probably wouldn’t go back unless a partner wanted to go.

Trail marker distances on the way out aren’t even close, 3.7 is more like 4.5 so don’t dilly dally if you need to get off the rock.

Very pretty trail with mixed terrain (lots of rock stairs and some dirt trail). Gorgeous views!

18 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.

20 days ago

Summit date: 10/1/2018

Langley is a test of your commitment. As a ‘fourteener’ there’s not a whole lot to look at and sometimes it feels like a barren moon surface. BUT, it’s a great test of stamina, and anything but boring and much less travelled than Whitney...so if you enjoy solitude and semi private trail blazing, give Langley a try!

We hiked in from Horseshoe Camping Grounds to Cottonwood Lake #3 and setup base camp. The hike was 8 miles, 1,400 ft elevation gain and took about 6 hours with full pack. .

Next day we set out for the summit under great weather conditions. From Cottonwood Lake #3 via Old Army Pass and back to camp for a round tip of 10.5 miles, roughly 10 hours with a 3,100 ft elevation gain. The trails are hard to follow on the way up once you emerge from Old Army rim, the elevation gain continuous and unrelenting. Follow the cairns, it’s your best bet. Make sure you travel light and keep your pack under 20 lbs or under if possible and do your best to take 3 liters of water to hydrate. Weather rolled in and we descended quickly to miss cloud cover and the first new storm system for Souther Sierra’s. By the time we left the next day, rain was coming down moderately with winds picking up.

The hike out of the lakes is always a butt kicker the next day after the summit, so rest up! Make sure to remember which lot you parked in...we had to play ‘find the car’ on the return as I originally thought we parked at the Cottonwood Lakes campsite! After a tough summit and long hike back, looking for your car weighed down with a full pack is not what you want to do.

All-in-all, Langley is a moderate-to-hard summit with great views of Kings Canyon and the Sierra’s Camping out in the Cottonwoods doesn’t get much better.

It was cold. Wind was blowing hard. Not an ideal hike for this time of year. Still was beautiful though.

20 days ago

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

21 days ago

Langley is kind of a grind and not really that interesting. Definitely wide panoramic views at the top though.

The standout on this walk are the lakes. I was at Rae Lakes just the weekend before and these hands down blow it away.

Skip the grind and just spend some time at the lakes!

23 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.

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.

25 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.

26 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.


28 days ago

Lots of switchbacks for only a moderately better view of the valley past Columbia rock. Lots of flies that fly into your face. Waterfall is dry late September.

A shame there is no waterfall in September.

29 days ago

We did AP more or less as shown on this map as a 3 day trip, camping 2 nights at lake 3 (9/20-9/21). The AP trail is shorter with less elevation gain than NAP. Not a mistake. Three days was a relatively relaxed way to go, but even so, the summit hike was not easy. We took a more boldery rout to the summit on the final section, skipping some of the deep sand if you followed the big cairns all the way up. This had its own challenges though - and we did follow the cairns on the way down. We saw four bighorn sheep on the the way back, and marmots here and there, sunbathing on the rocks. It was great to be back to camp on day 2 with plenty of time for a chilly plunge in the lake and to enjoy the afternoon and evening rather than packing up and slogging it back to the parking lot. Overall a great trip!

29 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.

Great hike, spectacular views. Cold at night and in the morning. No ice or snow yet, as of 9/22/18. Tough finish to the top with sinking sand and small gravel. Saw a coyote, marmots and deer. But no big horn sheep (boo) and no bears (phew.) Completed in 13 hours, would do it in two or three days next time, to take in all the beauty this hike has. Well worth it.

Excellent hike but it is not 5 miles round trip! As is stated at the trail head it is 3.4 miles one way and based off my log I found this to be true. Definitely worth the hike, even tho the falls were dry when I went. While you’re up there you might as well do the extra mile to Yosemite Point to get the best views of the valley as well.

1 month 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.

1 month ago

My wife and I did this trail as an overnight backpacking trip on 9/16/18. We were celebrating our one year wedding anniversary and we couldn’t have picked a more beautiful location.

Rather than doing this as an out-and-back, we decided to do it as a loop. We began on the High Trail (PCT) from the Agnew Meadows Trailhead toward Thousand Island Lake. At about the three mile mark you get a spectacular view of the Minarets, Mt. Ritter, and Banner Peak looming over Shadow Lake. Eventually, about eight miles in, you reach Thousand Island Lake. As you may have guessed, this lake is very unique because it has a ton of islands. The lake is at the base of Banner Peak, making this a very scenic location to set up camp. In the morning, we set off southbound on the JMT. Two miles later we reached Garnet Lake, which provided amazing views of Banner Peak and Mt. Ritter. We continued another four miles to Shadow Lake, with the last half mile paralleling a beautiful creek with numerous waterfalls. When you reach the east end of Shadow Lake, you can look back across the lake to the west for an awesome view of the Minarets and Mt. Ritter. Then it’s a steep, rocky descent through the gorge along the Shadow Creek Trail. When you reach the bottom, it’s an easy couple miles and a final uphill push back to the Agnew Meadows Trailhead.

I recorded my loop at 18.7 miles with 3,406 feet of elevation gain. It ended up being just a couple miles longer than the out-and-back to Thousand Island Lake, but with twice as many spectacular views. I couldn’t imagine missing out on everything we experienced on the back half! It was challenging, but well worth it.

Mid-September turned out to be a great time to go. It wasn’t very busy, the weather was great, there were no bugs, and the colors of autumn were starting to appear. It did get pretty cold at night, but it was a small price to pay given the other huge upsides.

Overall, this was my favorite hike so far and definitely the most scenic. I would highly recommend trying it!

You can download my recording if you decide to try the Thousand Island, Garnet, and Shadow Lakes Loop Trail instead of just the out-and-back trail to Thousand Island Lake. It will make navigating a lot easier!

Happy hiking!

Great hike even if it’s dried up. Did it with my son on our father son getaway. We left at 7:15 and glad we did. It does get hot towards the top but there are a couple great water holes on top to get in. Slippery when coming down wear the right boots. Believe it or not we saw someone doing it bare foot. 3-4 bottles of water are good. We saw a mountain lion and bear so watch for them. It’s a GREAT hike. Enjoy

This is one of the most beautiful and epic hikes that I have ever completed. My daughter and I completed this hike on June 19, 2018. The waterfall was gorgeous and still flowing this time of year. This hike is definitely a challenge but is totally worth it. We didn’t have trekking poles and that was a mistake. Poles will definitely make the descent a little easier on the feet and knees. My Fitbit showed the round trip mileage for this trail at 12 miles.

beautiful hike

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