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Rae Lakes Trail

HARD 220 reviews

Rae Lakes Trail is a 41.4 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Cedar Grove, California that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, nature trips, and backpacking and is best used from June until September.

Distance: 41.4 miles Elevation Gain: 7,844 feet Route Type: Loop

backpacking

camping

hiking

nature trips

forest

lake

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

scramble

snow

no dogs

This trek can be planned as a 3 day hike unless you are experienced enough to hike up to 20 miles a day with a backpack. Bring a water-filter. You'll have access to the water (creek along the trail and lakes close to campgrounds).

hiking
7 days ago

Did this as a solo day hike/trail run Friday 10/4. First hike in the Sierras, other than Half Dome, and wow, just breathtaking allll the way through. Started at 6:30am and went clockwise so as to spread out the 8K’ gain over 25 miles, as opposed to going clockwise and doing it in 15. Weather was perfect, ranging from 40s to 70s with some cool winds around Glen Pass, but I was OK with a t-shirt and shorts and did not unpack my windbreaker or down jacket. Bugs were nonexistent. High percentage of the trail is runnable, which would’ve been nice, had I not been dealing with some nagging aches and pains that slowed me down. Trail was easy to follow and well-marked throughout, and I never had any nav issues at any time. Lots of PCTers, JMTers, and backpackers to chat with along the way. Trail wasn’t crowded, but I did see a decent amount of people. Camp sites looked like less than 50% percent occupancy on Friday morning. Pretty much constant water availability, so I just took a 1.5L bladder and a filter and that did just fine. Saw a couple bears off in the distance and had a close shave with a mountain lion which nearly necessitated a change of shorts. Deer were present for a good chunk of the trail. I have to admit that while I enjoyed the challenge of doing this as a day hike, I feel like I short-changed myself by not giving myself the necessary time to enjoy this amazing trail over a 3 or 4 day backpacking excursion. Already looking forward to it. Start: 6:30 am Completed: 8:45 pm Moving time: 12h 50m Distance: 40.6 mi Total elevation gained: 8272’ (corrected)

hiking
11 days ago

Completed the loop clockwise from Road's end over 6D5N Sept 28-Oct 3. Camped upper paradise, 2 nights at rae lakes with a day trip to 60 lakes basin, added a loop out to Kearsarge pass and camped at Kearsarge lakes, then camped at Bubbs creek. Definitely recommend clockwise, we felt it gave us better views that got better as the hike progressed. Days were clear and beautiful, nights were freezing cold, waking to frozen water bottles and one time with a little snow on the ground. Went prepared and was very much enjoyed, no need for microspikes although we had them. Sleeping bag liner is a light way to add some heat to your sleeping bag. Highly recommend Kearsarge pass if you have the time, fantastic view of the mountain range to the south. Highly recommend this hike, gorgeous views the whole way, fantastic trail easy to navigate. We rented bear canisters at REI in Fresno (got the big clear ones, easier to see where your food is!) was cheaper and more variety than the Parks office. River crossing at upper paradise is still out, but there was a log that was very grippy and low water levels making for an easy traverse. No bears seen nothing tampered with out bear canisters. Saw 3 bucks and many other deer along the way. Generally did not feel crowded although there are other people around especially at campsites. Very clean seeing almost zero garbage.

hiking
16 days ago

Easily the best backcountry trip I've taken so far. We completed a clockwise loop in 5 days with a zero at Rae Lakes from 9/22 through 9/26. We camped at Upper Paradise Valley, Rae (2x), and Junction Meadow. The second day climb from Castle Dome Meadow to Dollar Lake was the most strenuous section, easily beating out Glen Pass, which really wasn't so bad. Temperatures were perfect, a bit warm at times during the day, but staying above freezing even at elevation. Wind wasn't an issue. No mosquitos, just a few manageable gnat swarms at the start and end of the loop. All water crossings can be completed without getting wet (logs or rock hopping). Fishing at Lower Rae was too easy and got boring quickly. I was catching 4-6" brook trout on every cast with a fly and bubble setup on a spinning rod. I was using pheasant tail nymphs but those hungry fish would probably go for anything. Same story in Bubb's behind the Junction Meadow camp. Saw a few deer at Upper Rae, then spotted a bear across Bubb's from our campground at Junction Meadow. He didn't seem to want anything to do with us and quickly climbed out of site. Went about halfway up the trail to Sixty Lakes basin on our zero day, enough to keep the muscles warm and enjoy spectacular views of the lakes. Really enjoyed chatting with many amazing folks on this beautiful trail. JMTers, PCTers, and Rae Lakes loopers forming one happy trail family. This is one I will remember for a long time!

hiking
18 days ago

My best backpacking trip so far, we did the trip in 3.5 days, Thursday morning to Sunday morning. Thursday: We did a total of 10.5 miles and camped at the upper paradise valley. The next morning we had to wade across the stream, it was about shin deep and the water was pretty slow. Friday: We did a total of 13.5 miles, camping at upper Rae lake, was very windy and difficult to sleep. Make sure you secure your tents and covers down since everything will get blown away. We had a clear sky so we could see the Milkyway galaxy. Saturday: We did a total of 15.5 miles, we got out of Rae lakes as quickly as possible because it was not comfortable there with no fire and freezing winds. After about 4 miles from Rae lakes, everything was back to normal and we were flying downhill most of the time. Two of our mates got lost because they took a shortcut and ended up doing an extra 4 miles, so make sure you check every corner on the switchbacks to make sure you don't miss a trail split. We ended up camping at Sphinx creek, there was plenty of space, cover, and firewood and everyone was happy because we only had 4 miles to the car. Sunday: We only had 4 miles of switchbacks + downhill + flat to cover. We got to the car by 10 am. I would recommend leaving as little miles as possible for the last day, that way you have time to unpack and catch up on things when you get back him. For us, we got home around 5 pm.

hiking
19 days ago

I did this hike years ago and it is an awesome High Sierra trail. If you go counter clockwise I would recommend leaving early so you’re not stuck on the switchbacks in the afternoon sun. There’s pretty regular access to water along the way. Glen Pass is an amazing view. We saw a few bears and a rattlesnake along the way. I would highly recommend for anyone who wants a good long weekend Sierra trail.

hiking
20 days ago

Beautiful loop, great for backpacking. Recommend doing this clockwise. Stayed overnight at Paradise, Rae Lakes, and Junction. There are 3 campgrounds spread out at Junction so just keep looking if you're trying to find one that isn't occupied.

hiking
24 days ago

Well maintained trail. 7 miles to Middle Paradise Camp area. 1,600 foot elevation gain. Lots of stairs. Could have used an escalator.

hiking
29 days ago

Words can’t describe this trail! Every landscape was massive and beautiful! Highly recommend this trail 3 nights 4 days at least. Also only recommend the clockwise trek.

hiking
bugs
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

This was a fun hike, did in 2.5 days. we did it clockwise but if I did it again I would go counter clockwise and knock all the eg out at once and maybe even go back the way I came. Clockwise is a never ending up and down game. My downside for this trail is the number of unnecessary stairs placed and big ones at that. Lots of boring forest miles going vastly out of the way. Zero snow, only had bugs the first few miles. Got down to 26*F at rae lakes, saw 1 juvenile bear. For the river crossing, walking across calf deep with very doable current speed. There are some down trees just a bit to your right of the down bridge if going clockwise. FYI the trail sign mileage are an absolute farce and completely inconsistent, do not use these. Get a map. alltrails was very reliable compared to map. Glen pass was not difficult at all for a 12k so dont fret that

running
1 month ago

This was such an epic trail run! Ran it on 9/7/19 - started at around 7 AM (Probably would have preferred an earlier start, but I snoozed a little) and finished at around 9 PM. Would definitely recommend this as a 2+ day hike so you can spend some time relaxing at Rae Lakes. I've posted photos on my Instagram: @ChelleTraveled The gnats (? something other than mosquitoes) were miserable until about 6500 feet. They literally swarmed me, and were unaffected by Picaridin. Mosquitos left me alone the entire time - never had to re-spray bug spray. If you stop at a creek, you might get one or two. But nothing vicious. I did the clockwise route, thanks to reviews below - it's not a straight up climb, and much more enjoyable. Saw two black bears rummaging around the "Toilet" area in Middle Paradise Valley campground. Notable creek crossings: 1. The bridge at Upper Paradise Valley campground is still down, but the creek crossing was manageable at this time of year - definitely took my shoes off, it was a good spot to stop for water anyway. 2. There is another creek crossing after Dollar Lake that's got a relatively narrow but stable log. With a good hiking pole for balance, you should be fine. Other than that, I didn't notice any other significant creek crossings, but this is late summer. Pretty sure the conditions are different earlier in the summer. Enjoy the amazing views!!

bridge out
bugs
1 month ago

4 days, counterclockwise - other than the hugs, you couldn’t ask for a better backpacking trip. Didn’t get GPS some of the time, so mileage is off.

hiking
bugs
1 month ago

August 13-16, 2019. Absolutely loved this trail. Went clockwise. Glad I read up on it because counterclockwise is nonstop up hill until Glenn pass. Clockwise is still challenging but very doable. We stopped at woods creek crossing our first night, upper rae lakes second night, sphinx junction on the third. The mosquitoes are definitely out this time of year. It’s very manageable if you have the right gear. Views were incredible. Love how you merge with the JMT & PCT for some of the trail. It really gave me an amazing insight on what the sierras have to display.

hiking
1 month ago

Just did this over Labor Day weekend. Did the loop via Woods Creek (clockwise) in five days/four nights. Got a walk up permit the day prior and camped our first night at Cedar Grove. This was also great to adjust to altitude the first night. The loop is stunningly beautiful. The river crossing just passed upper paradise is barely knee high. I slipped on a pair of water shoes (5.8 oz and $15 from amazon - highly recommend) and it was super easy. The bugs really weren’t that bad I was pleasantly surprised. While hiking on the first and last day they do swarm around your head a bit. A head net is recommended for that. But there really weren’t many bugs at all above ~7,000 feet and not really at any of the camps. All in all a really beautiful loop :) definitely a difficult hike, but great for an off-the-grid getaway into nature, or to test trial backpacking gear for a longer trip.

hiking
1 month ago

Overall a fabulous trail, though, with only a single pass and an extremely long up to and down from that pass, it is by far not the best trail in the Sierras...I would better recommend the Mineral King loop (3 passes) or smth similar.

hiking
bridge out
bugs
snow
1 month ago

Amazing Hike - Aug 19 ,2019 - Left Roads End at about 3pm clockwise direction. Night 1 - Middle Paradise (included a long break at Mist Falls - well worth it). Night 2 - Just past Dollar Lake, Ranger's note said most sites at Dollar "didn't meet standard (distance from water/trail etc) and advised us to hike to the next lake" unfortunately, there was a river crossing that looked challenging in the dark so we camped just off the trail. Probably should've stayed at Dollar or just not hiked as far that day. River crossing at Upper Paradise was not challenging (we crossed just downstream of the bridge) but finding the trail on the other side of the river was. Night 3 - Lower Rae Lake - was amazing, short hike from Dollar, clear water, refreshing swimming, great fishing - niece caught a fish on first cast. Bear Lockers etc. Night 4 - Sphinx Creek - a bit buggy and yellow jackets were all over our Mountain House dinner. Glenn Pass had limited snow, crossed in boots with no issue. Getting up to Glenn Pass is a bit of a haul... Day 5 - Sphinx Creek to Roads End - all downhill pretty quick. Stopped at Grizzly Falls on the drive out for an awesome "backpackers shower" in the waterfall!

backpacking
no shade
rocky
1 month ago

My partner and I lucked out on a walk-up permit the Friday before Labor Day weekend. We completed the loop counterclockwise in three days/two nights...let’s just say it was a challenge. :-) Especially having driven straight from sea level the day before. It’s doable to be sure, but I would recommend folks spend at least three nights/four days to soak up the experience and magnificent scenery of this loop. Snowfields were all melted and bugs not bad at all, surprisingly. That bright sun though. Wear plenty of UPF protection when crossing Glen Pass. We really enjoyed Vidette Meadows camp. To the two ladies from Santa Barbara I stood in line with -- I regret not getting your info...if you see this, would love to connect with you!

hiking
bugs
no shade
rocky
1 month ago

hiking
bridge out
bugs
1 month ago

Spectacular. We did the trail in 3 nights from August 19-22 counterclockwise. The bugs aren’t that bad; they are the worst at dawn and dusk but fairly manageable at all other times. Camp further from the river since they are worse the closer you are to it. The water crossing into Paradise Valley is easily manageable this time of year. There is one thirty foot section of snow crossing at Glenn Pass that you are fine doing in just boots.

hiking
1 month ago

Just finished the Loop counterclockwise on 8/16/19. Took 6 days/5 nights so we could enjoy nature more. There were still two 120’ patches of snow to traverse on the decent from Glenn Pass but manageable w/o micro spikes - just trekking poles. Camp 1: Bubbs Creek Trail just past Charlotte Creek. Camp 2: Junction of Bubbs Creek Trail and JMT. Camp 3: Middle Rae Lake Camp 4: Woods Creek Crossing Camp 5: Middle Paradise Valley Breathtaking beauty everywhere I turned. Will remember this hike forever.

hiking
bugs
1 month ago

Just completed loop in 3 days, 2 nights (Aug 11 - 13). I was able to get a walk-up permit without problem at Roads End station. Went clockwise. 60 lakes basin is a really nice side hike if you have time and energy by Upper Rae lake. Mosquitos were bad for part of day. Also came across Bear and cub on trail, plus 2 rattlesnakes so you need to stay alert. Completing in 3 days was tough, but doable. Glenn pass has a little snow, but no spikes needed.

hiking
bugs
no shade
rocky
snow
2 months ago

Awesome ! Very hard very rewarding!

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