The Rae Lakes Loop is a popular loop hike in King’s Canyon National Park. Many John Muir Trail hikers consider the Rae Lakes the most beautiful part of the trail. The loop traverses (depending upon which signs you believe) 40 to 45 miles of incredible Sierra high country, starting and finishing at the Road’s End trailhead. It’s a hike that takes you up to nearly 12,000 feet above sea level through forests, meandering near riverbeds, passing waterfalls, and up over the tree line.
After realizing that the JMT wasn’t going to happen for me in 2016, I was very disappointed. I was angry with myself for not being able to get my butt in gear and get into good enough shape to spend three weeks in the wilderness, partly on my own. I knew I wanted to do something big, so after a good bit of research, I decided on the Rae Lakes Loop. Permits are required for all backcountry travel in King’s Canyon, and the loop is quite popular. By the time we decided to go, we had to settle for a counterclockwise permit instead of the traditional, easier clockwise route, but we were excited to get out into the wilderness!