Features: Lake — River/Creek — Swimming — Views — Wildflowers — Wildlife
The Sixty Lakes Basin is bordered on the west and south by the rugged, almost 13000 foot high, King's Spur. The ridge on the east, which separates Sixty Lakes from the Rae Lakes Basin is high in the south but diminishes to nothing as it goes northward. Many of the lakes in the basin are arrayed near the main stream, which the trail as it follows down the gently sloping valley. However, the most beautiful lakes are short distance above the trail and closer to the Kings Spur.
Sixty Lakes Basin has far fewer visitors that Rae Lakes and those that come are usually on a day hike from Rae Lakes or spend only one night camped in the basin. With so many lakes to choose from, it is likely that there will be few, if any people at any higher lake that you choose to visit.
The Sixty Lake Basin Trail branches from the JMT just before it crosses the stream between the two Rae Lakes. Reaching this point requires a strenuous hike from Onion Valley that includes about 4000 feet of climbing. According to the signs, its only 11.5 miles, but that will seem hard to believe. The Sixty Lakes Basin trail starts by staying near the northern Rae Lake as passes around a swampy area . It then it climbs about 600 feet over the ridge that separates Rae Lakes from the Sixty Lakes Basin. Throughout this climb there are sweeping views back over Rae Lake towards the main Sierra crest. After crossing the ridge it drops about 400 feet over the next half mile and then follows main stream gently down the shallow canyon for a little over a mile and ends near the point where the stream drops steeply down to the South Fork of the Kings River. Typically from the trail end, you would return the way you came, but it is possible to continue off-trail to the north for a short distance, climbing slightly, until you find a downward sloping canyon that provides a not-difficult descent to the JMT below Dollar Lake.
In the other direction, there is a relatively easy off-trail route between the Sixty Lakes Basin and Glen Pass. It is significantly shorter and has somewhat less climbing than going down to the Rae Lakes junction and climbing back up on the Sixty Lakes Trail
. When coming from Glen Pass, leave the JMT in the lake basin that you reachj at the bottom of the switchbacks. Head northwest between the lakes towards an obvious low point in the ridge. Once over the ridge, scramble down to Lake 3353 and on to the Sixty Lakes Trail