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Rae Lakes Loop



40.4 mile 65.0 kilometer loop
87% Runnable


Ascent: 6,971' 2,125 m
Descent: -6,971' -2,125 m
High: 11,904' 3,628 m
Low: 5,052' 1,540 m


Avg Grade: 7% (4°)
Max Grade: 67% (34°)


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One of the most famous loops in all of the Sierras with stunning canyons, pristine lakes, and rolling granite domes.

Luke Snow

Features Commonly Backpacked · Lake · River/Creek · Swimming · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

This loop is entirely within Kings Canyon National Park and requires a permit. All National Park rules apply.


One of the most popular backpacking loops in all of the Sierras, this epic journey starts out journeying up a canyon and makes its way towards one of the most scenic and stunning areas in the High Sierras, if not all of California.

Need to Know

The South Fork Kings River Bridge above Paradise Valley washed out during the winter of 2016-2017. Construction of a replacement bridge will not begin before 2019.


The clockwise route is considered less strenuous and typically the way the route is completed. Starting from the trailhead, the route starts out in the valley floor. Once you reach the junction with Bubbs Creek Trail, bear north following the South Fork (Paradise) Trail. This will start a gradual ascent of the drainage that is laced with eye-popping views.

The South Fork (Paradise) trail terminates into the Upper Paradise - Woods Creek Crossing, where you'll bear east and continue a gradual ascent. Grandiose views of the Castle Domes will greet you as you near the junction with the famed John Muir Trail (JMT: Segment 6 - Bishop Pass at LeConte Canyon to Kearsage Pass Trail). Once arriving to the trail, head south to the ultimate reward of the run, the string of stunning alpine lakes that each outdo the next in beauty. This is a good spot to establish camp for one of your nights.

Make the climb to Glenn Pass, a true gem of the West. Soak in the commanding views and start your descent to the Bubbs Creek Trail, bearing west. This trail tracks a picturesque stream that, depending on the time of year, roars down the canyon. You'll eventually meet back up with the South Fork (Paradise) Trail, continuing the descent back to the trailhead where, after 40 of some of the best miles California has to offer, the car will be waiting.

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Aug 9, 2015
Joseph Parks

Trail Ratings

  4.9 from 19 votes


in Cedar Grove


  4.9 from 19 votes
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390 Views Last Month
9,088 Since May 16, 2018



Rae Lakes, Pacific Crest Trail, Kings Canyon National Park.
Dec 30, 2015 near Big Pine, CA
Fin Dome from the PCT.
Feb 3, 2016 near Big Pine, CA
The lowest of the Rae Lakes in front of Glen Pass.
Apr 29, 2019 near Big Pine, CA
View from the final ascent to Glen Pass. You can see Diamond Peak and Black Mountains, and get glimpse of the Rae Lakes.
Apr 29, 2019 near Lone Pine, CA
The middle Rae Lake with Glen Pass in the far.
Apr 29, 2019 near Big Pine, CA
Palmer Mountain
Apr 26, 2019 near Big Pine, CA


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