Explore the most popular lake 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
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
10 days ago

absolutely amazing one of the best things iv ever done

Trail head is located at the back of the west parking lot. Make sure you stay left on the sunset trail. If you take the north loop trail, it’s very hard to find your way to the lake. We did it but we added two miles to the entire trip and had to make our own trail at times. You can see the lake off the sunset trail. At the lake it says no fishing but we went in late March so no one was there. Also no fish there lol This hike is rated as easy but it’s more like moderate to hard. Good hike overall with very little foot traffic.

Quite the hike. My 10 y/o, 12 y/o, wife and myself completed this March 31, 2018. We had a low clearance vehicle so we used a parking lot a good ways above the road in and hiked down to the road and off to the trail. Absolutely zero people from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Lots of snow still so it was nice and tough but magical underneath all those beautiful trees. Bucket list type spot!!

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!!!

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
1 month ago

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

backpacking
2 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.

The trail was hard to follow even with help from a ranger. The lake at the bottom was nothing special, the switchbacks going back up have a pretty decent incline. You’ll definitely get a workout but the view of the lake didn’t make it worthwhile in our opinion

I chose this hike because the reviews said it was a good place to get away from any crowds, and it definitely did not disappoint! I only saw one other person on the trail. The dirt road leading down to the trailhead is a little sketch, I briefly got stuck in a pothole on the way back up to the main road, but I still managed in my '97 Camry so I wouldn't worry about it too much. Just take it slow and steady. No snow yet, and today was sunny and warm. The fall colors of the oaks were a beautiful backdrop for the towering sequoias, and you even get some panoramic views of the surrounding canyon. Loved this hike!

If you like sequoias and don't like the crowds this is the hike for you. We ran into two people all day. The were some views(all of big baldy and redwood canyon). There was sequoias the entire hike but you will know when you enter the sugarbowl. Redwood canyon itself is nice. You get to hike along a creek for a little while and the fall colors on the oaks were a nice shade of red and yellow. This was a great fall hike!

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!

Great hike away from the crowds. We only saw 4 other people on the trail. There was grove after grove of Sequoias. It really was amazing to be in the middle of such large trees and the still quite of nature. Such a blessing to be able to experience such an amazing place!

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.

Hiked this and Hart Tree as a loop, and camped at the trail junction. The trail goes past grove after grove of sequoias, and there are many great places to camp. Also, since the temperature has been dropping, there were no bugs!

Great loop hike, completed it in around 4 hours!! The gravel road in did have a few ruts but nothing impassible saw a mustang creep through it! Amazing sequoias trees all over An great views!! Great place to come make yourself feel small An humble!!! An also recommend taking the loop counter clockwise!!! And another big plus only passed three other folks the whole hike!! Whoa what a magical day!!!

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

This is a great trail in the Redwoods. We did not have bug issues as it was in the 40's temperature wise. If coming by way of Badger to the forrest road, you need a higher clearance car. The road has some washout areas and larger rocks.

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 hike kicked my butt! I tried to make it a Day Hike and wasn't ready for it! I would make it a 2day trip. Ran into a few Deers! Good weather, and trail is easy to stay on. I definitely plan to take another run at it when I'm in better shape.

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.

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/

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...

As part of a Trinity Alps-King's Canyon trail maintenance crew this loop trail was our project for roughly a month back in April/May of 2015, and it's still one of my favorite trails in the King's Canyon area

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!

My sister and I finished this trail in about 5 hours - we took several breaks. The trail itself is not difficult, but has some ups and downs, with plenty of time to recover before the next incline. If you want to see sequoia trees, this is the trail for you. There were plenty of groves on the top side, and a few down near the creek. Bring some bug spray.

Wow such an amazing but difficult hike! I did this hike last year in August and it was hot! There are tons of switchbacks on this hike and the inclines are pretty relentless! Once you get to the top if granite basin though it's all worth it! you reach 10,000 ft and instantly the scenery completely changes and it is totally breathtaking. The basin has so much wildlife, massive meadows and several natural lakes that lie against the granite walls that are a bright green and so beautiful! And even though much of the hike is so difficult the views the entire time are spectacular! There was no snow when I went last year but because of this year's heavy snow pack I would expect there to still be snow on the trail this time and lots of creeks that might be a little swift crossing the path. I would definitely recommend this hike!

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.

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