Best time to visit California

Rae Lakes Loop in California

Beautiful lakes nestled in scenic High Sierra mountains

Best time: June–September

Rae Lakes Loop
Rae Lakes Loop
Rae Lakes Loop
Rae Lakes Loop
Rae Lakes Loop

Rae Lakes is a series of lakes located in the Kings Canyon National Park, Fresno County, California. With incredible lake basins, foaming waterfalls, and scenic canyons no wonder it's a popular hiking destination. The lakes have an elevation of 10,544 ft (3,214 m) and are surrounded by the scenic Sierra Nevada Mountains.

The Rae Lakes Trail is a 41.4-mile (66.6 km) loop trail head, and is just a few miles away from Cedar Grove, California. The trail can usually be completed in three days, provided that you can walk about 20 miles per day with a backpack.

The clockwise hike starts at Road’s End in King’s Canyon. The major highlight of the first part of the hike is Mist Falls and Paradise Valley, where hikers can find a few campsites. Next, you'll have to cross a suspension bridge before getting to the Rae Lakes Basin with scenic campsites surrounding the three lakes. From there you can take the trail to the alpine Sixty Lake Basin and conquer Glen Pass. Glen Pass may be impassable until mid-late July. However, the best time to hike the Rae Lakes Loop runs from June through September.

The Rae Lakes Loop is one of the most popular hikes in the Sierra region. Thus, if you plan to do this hike during the summer month, you need to make reservations in advance. You can obtain wilderness permits for the Rae Lakes Loop at the Roads End station. If you have a reservation already, you still need to check in and pick up your permit before starting your trip.

Practical info

When is the best time to hike the Rae Lakes Loop in California?

Hikers can embark on the Rae Lakes Loop in California from June to September, when the trail is most accessible and weather is favorable. The relatively mild temperatures during this period and the well-marked trail make for a comfortable hiking experience. It's worth noting, though, that hikers may face impassable conditions at Glen Pass up until mid to late July. Show more

Where is Rae Lakes Loop located?

The picturesque Rae Lakes Loop is located in Fresno County, California, within Kings Canyon National Park. It boasts the stunning Sierra Nevada mountains, lush greenery, and several lakes. The trailhead is conveniently accessible via foot or car, and it's not far from Cedar Grove. Show more

What are the highlights of the first part of the hike?

Hikers can enjoy several highlights as they embark on the Rae Lakes Loop, including Mist Falls, a waterfall in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks located four miles from the trailhead and known for its height. Another highlight is Paradise Valley, an exquisite meadow that presents an exceptional view of canyons shaped by glaciers. This area is an excellent spot for setting up camp, with plenty of campsites for hikers to choose from. Show more

How long does it take to hike the 41.4-mile loop trail?

Hikers need to set aside three to five days to complete the 41.4-mile loop trail known as Rae Lakes Loop, depending on their pace. Ideally, one should aim to complete hiking around 20 miles per day with a backpack to complete the loop in three days. Hikers should possess moderate fitness levels and be well-prepared as the trail is moderately challenging, with steep inclines and high altitudes. Show more

What permits do I need to obtain to go on the Rae Lakes Loop hike and where can I get them?

To hike the Rae Lakes Loop, it's necessary to secure wilderness permits from the Roads End station. These permits should be booked at least six months in advance to guarantee access to the trail. Each permit costs approximately $5 per person per night and is valid for an overnight stay. It's worth noting that the permits are limited to preserve natural resources and regulate hiker traffic. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin