Explore the most popular camping trails in Kings Canyon National Park with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

backpacking
1 month 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
1 month ago

absolutely amazing one of the best things iv ever done

backpacking
2 months 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!!!

Lost GPX file so had to draw it out. Much more strenuous than the 17 miles (GPX file read ~25 miles) and 5000 vertical feet described. First and last 6 miles (on trail up to Lamarck Col and down from Muriel Lake) are fine but everything in between is scrambling, talus, shale, route finding. All class 3, sometimes having to take off packs etc. Still worth it for the views of Darwin Canyon if you don't have time for the 55 mile North Lake to South Lake loop. Doable in 3 days but don't underestimate the route finding/talus/boulder fields.

scenic driving
2 months ago

Did this one as a kid and that was a long time ago...

backpacking
3 months ago

Finished in 2014 what I started in 2012. A "must do" for any backpackers' bucket list

This trail is also known as the Shepherd Pass trail. It's a fantastic trail and in great condition. If your car can't make it up the rough dirt road to the hiker trailhead, consider parking at the the stock trailhead, a half mile before the hiker turnoff. Then hike up the stock trail to join the hiker trail.

backpacking
6 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
7 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.

The most beautiful view I have seen in my life. Though the trail is like roller coaster and it is a little crowded...Hiked in from late August to early September in 2017. Weather is mild, but I think the biggest trouble is the thunder storm. They were really scaring and I was under it. Snow pack and fording are fine. Though rain jacket is not a must, I am glad to have it with to feel more comfortable during the rains.

Hiked from Onion Valley Campground to Charlotte Lake in about 5 hours. Reviews below mention it's a 3-4 day trip but that is only if you average about 3 miles per day. We took the high route over bullfrog and kearsarge lakes because the route was less strenuous. Camped at Charlotte Lake and saw a couple bears so make sure you carry you bear canister! Overall it was an amazing hike with breathtaking views

backpacking
8 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!

backpacking
8 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.

9 months ago

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

backpacking
9 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/

day hike from onion to Kearsage... my favorite hike so far in the Sierras... amazing views the whole way... seeing Bullfrog lake in the distance and the headwaters of the Kings River was a plus... it was like Dr. Suess and Dali designed these mountains... on the way up, two substantial waterfalls merge into the same lake...

backpacking
9 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!

Got it class of 2017. Super challenging with all the snow and river crossings, but an amazing experience that I would do again for sure. Mt. Whitney is a must as well.

One of the most beautiful scenic routes I've ever been on...No pictures will do it justice, you just have to experience it for yourself. Although I did take several pictures, most of what I have is video, and I don't think I can upload this.

backpacking
10 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
10 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
10 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
11 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
11 months ago

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

backpacking
11 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!!!

Most amazing views... vast Valley scenes to walking thru lush Meadows. The lakes were absolutely amazing, we stayed at Arrow head lake b4 proceeding over the pass. Not a super rigorous hike overall and well worth it for the views. we did the trip in 4 days which made it quite easy going, 1 of the days we spent entirely at the lakes. been on several trips and this by far was the best experience for me.

backpacking
11 months ago

The immense snowfall and the subsequent melt from this winter has washed out the bridge crossing the South Fork above upper Paradise and the suspension bridge before the JMT. That being said, it was gorgeous and the trails were super gnarly. You can scale massive boulders or slog through waist-deep flood water. Epic. Bears (plus two cubs) and rattlesnakes abound. Check when they have those bridges fixed (who knows when) and have at it! Was told by numerous sources there were still ~15 ft of snow at Rae Lakes. The counter-clockwise route is very steep, but you may be able to get up further. I turned around after heading clockwise and went up the first two miles to Sphinx Creek Junction the other direction. Two rangers passed by with skis to suss things out. I presume you could get much higher going that way with skis or snowshoes! Views and falls were astonishing. Cannot wait to return.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

we didn't make the whole loop but we went counter clockwise to Charlotte lake and back. extremely hard counter clockwise. everybody on the trail says clockwise is easier. but amazing and I would do it again. we did see 2 rattlesnakes when we did this hike.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Rae lakes is like no other place...brook trout on almost every cast...its no wonder why this is a favorite section of the JMT and PCT...wilderness permit applications start on March 1st...Wood Creek and Bubbs creek go fast...

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Went August 2016. Absolutely amazing! 5 days. Counter clock wise.

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