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

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backpacking
4 days ago

A lovely summer week in the Sierra - one of the best! The lakes were glassy in the mornings and reflected the surroundings flawlessly. We did the loop clock-wise. There were lots of rattlesnakes up to Paradise Meadows.

backpacking
9 days ago

absolutely amazing one of the best things iv ever done

AMAZING VIEWS!!! The hike had its moments with a few hills , but for the most part the hike was pretty easy. It took about 4 hours to get to the falls and backs . 11 miles

backpacking
29 days ago

An super awesome trail, I can remember seeing a reflection of the Milky Way in Littel Rae lake Along side of Fin Dome!!!! In2000 Can’t wait to get back there this summer!!!

Amazing hike! Lots of up and down so you get some elevation gain on your way out and your way back! Ended up being about 18 miles total but definitely worth it!

Very strenuous but rewarding hike. Note that the loop as plotted above does not include a waterfall (Berry Creek falls) but does get close by (add 2mi total out and back to see the falls as well).

backpacking
4 months ago

I hiked this loop, or at least most of it, back in about 1980. It was my first week-long, moderate-distance backpacking trip. I was about 13 at the time. What I remember most is sleeping on a granite slab at Hamilton Lakes, the long climb the next day (through the tunnel), the spectacular view from Kaweah Gap, and water slides in Big Arroyo. It was a lot of work to get through that week, but well worth it.

backpacking
5 months ago

Had a great trip here on an unusually warm and clear weekend in late October. We did the clockwise loop from Road's End in 3 days / two nights. All told I would've enjoyed having another day or two to spend up by the lakes. The total mileage for the loop from Road's End is more like 42 and of the few other parties we saw it seemed like 4 or 5 days was the more common outing. This is a really fine bit of the sierras!

backpacking
6 months ago

This was an amazing trip! It's high altitude (9800 feet), so expect a few breaks on your way up if you're backpacking in. The views are completely stunning; I uploaded a few photos. The fishing is also pretty good. I caught several brook trout using a yellow rooster tail.
Definitely one of the most beautiful hikes I've ever done. I ended up spending two nights in a hammock up there. The nights get below freezing in October...so wear clothes.

backpacking
6 months ago

Hiked Sept 26-30th, stayed at Middle Paradise, Woods Crossing, Rae Lakes, and Junction Meadow. Bear boxes at parking lot and each camp site (except at Junction Meadow).

Perfect time of year to visit, since not crowded but still beautiful. Got cold enough at night at Rae Lakes to freeze the hose of our Camelbak. Some ice on trail up to glen pass at 11 am. Barely any snow on glen pass, and was easy enough to hike over the one patch at the top after noon in regular shoes/boots.

Wildlife highlights: lots of warblers including Hermit and Townsend's in Paradise Valley, Northern Saw-whet owl tooting at Middle Paradise, Lewis's woodpecker just past Paradise Bridge, lots of Clark's nutcrackers, marmots near Rae lakes ranger station, lots of pikas between Rae lakes and glen pass, large flocks of evening grosbeaks and band-tailed pigeons below junction meadow, and an inquisitive marten right above sphinx creek.

backpacking
7 months ago

First backpacking trip was amazing at this loop. Spectacular views, river crossings, and suspension bridges. just be prepared for any weather at any time!

This is a HARD hike. We followed the track and went counter clockwise and it didn't disappoint. Pretty consistent climb for a solid 8 miles or so. Make sure you bring plenty of water and prepare for exposed trails as most of the ridge doesn't offer shade. We made a wrong turn somehow where the trail meets the creek but fortunately found the trail eventually. This is a good hike but very strenuous, make sure you're fully prepared for it!

backpacking
7 months ago

Walk-up permits available starting the day before at 1pm. Get them at Road's End permit station. But seems like only 5 available per day.

Allocate 3-4 days to complete the loop. Bear canisters are required, as this is an active black bear area, even though we didn't encounter any. Mosquito headnets are highly recommended as there are miles of trail thru swarms of gnats and mosquitos. Water sources abound, so no need to carry more than 2 liters at a time; bring a water filter, though.

Going clockwise along the loop is recommended, and pretty much what everyone does. First night in Upper Paradise Valley. Second night at Middle Rae Lakes. Third night at Junction Meadow.

Still some snow around Glen Pass, but there's none of the trail. Temperatures were mild. +40 degree sleeping back was enough for me.

Wildlife we encountered: Deer, marmots, chipmunks, rattlesnake.

backpacking
7 months ago

I did this loop in the opposite direction (starting at Young Lakes via Dog Lake and finishing via Glen Aulin). With a pack, the initial ascent is steep and tough, but it's worth it for the views at Young Lakes. The lowest of the lakes makes for stunning sunrises/sunsets and there's good campsites on the north side of the lake (and good water in the creek that flows down from the lake). Also well worth a hike to the highest lake, which is very pretty (the middle lake is comparatively unremarkable).

backpacking
7 months ago

I may be a bit biased as this trip was my first time in Yosemite and I was completely awe struck by the beauty all around me. But for my first solo backpacking trip I couldn't have picked a better loop. The meadows and alpine forests are breathtaking and the lakes themselves are gorgeous. I'd highly recommend making the scramble up the waterfall to Upper Young Lake, one of the best sunsets I have ever seen!

My Garmin shows we did 21.3 miles on this loop. We also decided to do this loop C'Clock wise and started from the Parking lot of Big Meadows Trail head.
Our Goal was to make Showers Lake for day 1. That's fine but it was 12.4 miles mostly up hill.( 2425' elev. gain in 9.6 miles) Add an extra hour to your plans if you do this with heavy night packs.
From Big Meadow parking lot we walked down Upper Truckee Rd and caught the Hawley Grade Trail. The trail was up hill but not bad at all! We hit hwy 50 and a short trek to the Adventure Mountain parking area got us back on trail. Note, the trail starts just before the gate.
Day 1 was hard but finished up with very easy 8 remaining miles on day 2. Mostly flat and down hill after Showers lake.
Awesome views all the way.

7 months ago

Fun times. Glen pass ain't bad at all!!!

backpacking
8 months ago

This is an amazing backpacking loop. I did it in July of 2016 and loved it. Here is my trip report with a bunch of pictures and logistical info: https://backpackersreview.wordpress.com/trip-reports/rae-lakes-loop/

That was the hardest hike we did in the region. It is worth the effort though. Beautiful views from the top of the mountain. We did the loop starting with by the Skyline to the sea leg. Nice two hours walk in the woods before a step by step climb to Chalk mountain. Last 1.5 hour exposed to sun. Very warm. The way back is strenuous. Many ups and downs. The total elevation is indeed 4.000 feet. Be prepared.

Beautiful, great views.

backpacking
8 months ago

Fantastic loop. Especially at Rae Lakes and the campsites before and after your night at Rae Lakes. Spectacular views. It will make you sweat and work for it but well worth it!

backpacking
8 months ago

I did a similar loop that goes through the Nine Lakes Basin, Little Five Lakes, Big Five Lakes, Hamilton Lakes, and Columbine Lake. Here is the trip report: https://backpackersreview.wordpress.com/trip-reports/sequoia-mineral-king/

This is great area that is very beautiful!

We did a six mile hike on this trail up in the mountains. It was awesome! We loved it. It took us down to the south side of Lake Tahoe. We plan on going back in a few years. We were on vacating in Tahoe. This was our first time visiting there.

backpacking
9 months ago

I split my TRT thru-hike into two major sections. First half in June and second half in August. Both were bug free. I'd make sure, next time to pack extra water flavorings as Spooner Summit Lake water wasn't exactly flavorful. There is water off the trail in Friel Meadows, it will take a few extra minutes to reach. Take an extra day in Desolation Wilderness. I did it in a day. It's too awesome to bust out that fast. This is a great first thru-hike fir those wanting to get into LDH. It teaches resupply, resource management, and hike mileage strategy.
PS I thru-hike'd the AT several years ago.

backpacking
9 months ago

I did this loop with 3 others back in 2012. We did go counterclockwise and glad we did. It puts you into the back-country the very first day. Meaning, at the foot of high peaks. It would take almost 3 days before you got that if you go the other way. We hiked from roads end to a spot along Bubbs creek just before Junction Meadow. That was about nine miles for the first day with full packs. That was enough. Had a big bear walk right thru our camp that evening right as we were getting in our tents. He never even looked at us, just kept going. The next day we connected with the PCT and went up out of Vidette Meadow. We took a detour for one night over to the Kearsarge Lakes. Very well worth it. It is really beautiful in here. The next day we took the trail from the lakes upwards towards Kearsarge pass, and then hung a left on the high trail that reconnects to the PCT. The views from this trail are some of the best I have seen anywhere in the Sierra. Once back on the PCT, it was up and over Glen Pass and down to the Rae Lakes where we spent 2 nights. On our down day the next day, we did a day hike up towards the 60 lakes basin. We went over the pass and down a short distance but did not go all the way into the basin. Had a short lunch break with an awesome view up and down the 60 Lakes area. Then back down to our camp spot for our last night. A nice refreshing swim in Upper Rae Lake felt good after that day hike too!! That evening the mosquitoes zeroed in on us and we were forced into our tents sooner than we wanted. Heard a massive rock fall up by Dragon Lake as we sat in our tents kicking back. That was really something. Wasn’t sure what it was at first, then there was no mistaking that sound. Mother Nature unleashed. The next morning we packed up while being totally harassed by tons of mosquitoes. The worst I have seen on all my trips. Couldn’t wait to get walking. It was pretty much all downhill from there back to the truck over the next 3 days. We camped one night at Woods creek Jct. And then another at lower Paradise. Then had an easy hike out the last day. The water in the Kings that year was unusually low. Went swimming right by our camp site in lower paradise. Don’t think you’d be doing that this year (2017), or on any normal year. 2012 was a very lackluster winter for the Sierra. In fact, we did this hike in mid-June that year. It is one of the best loops in the Sierra, and it is also one that’s on everyone’s list, as it is heavily used. Lots of people on these trails.

backpacking
9 months ago

I did this trail last year (2016) and I loved it so much, I was really looking forward to doing it again. However, I just got off the phone with the wilderness office about the washed out bridge. Even by my permit date (7/18) he wasn't sure if the water would be low enough to rock-hop/cross. Counter-clockwise is intense, so not sure if I want to do an in-and-out (assuming I could even get permits). Anyone recommend a good five day hike?

backpacking
9 months ago

Most incredible hike of my life. The scenery is just incredible.

We did the hike in 4 days / 3 nights (10 miles per day). The hike is strenuous. If you want to spend a day chilling by the lakes, I recommend 5 days.

Only down side was mosquitos - they were extremely dense and biting. I recommend head nets and thick clothes so you don't get eaten alive!

backpacking
9 months ago

We're doing counter clockwise starting 7/2. Since the bridge is out, we were planning on doing an out and back to Rae Lakes. Has anyone been over Glen Pass lately? Is it safe?

backpacking
10 months ago

Headed out from Woods Creek on 7/3, wondering if the river will be passable ?

backpacking
10 months ago

061017 Trail update: Bridge is still out at Paradise Valley South Fork of Kings River. However, we did the out and back for this route (20 miles). Stunning views and great hike!!!

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