Rae Lakes Trail

HARD 35 reviews

Rae Lakes Trail is a 38 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Cedar Grove, California that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from June until September.

DISTANCE
38.0 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
8556 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

backpacking

birding

camping

fishing

hiking

nature trips

walking

forest

lake

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

no dogs

21 days ago

backpacking
1 month 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
2 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.

hiking
2 months ago

hiking
2 months ago

3 months ago

backpacking
3 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/

backpacking
4 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
4 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
4 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
5 months ago

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

backpacking
5 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!!!

backpacking
5 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.

6 months ago

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.

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...

8 months ago

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

11 months ago

11 months ago

hiking
Monday, September 19, 2016

backpacking
Thursday, September 08, 2016

I couldn't agree more with all the reviews here. Wish I had made my trip longer, but condensed the trip into 3 days as we went clockwise from Road's End. Stunning wilderness, many breathtaking views, gorgeous lake views and pristine wildlife. We encountered a total of 5 bears, so don't be foolish and enter without a bear canister (they're required for a reason). I only wish I had taken more time to venture off trail in the gorgeous 60 lakes basin