Rae Lakes Loop

by

Gorgeous alpine scenery

According to the national park service, the Rae Lakes Loop is one of the most popular hikes in Sequoia and Kings Canyon, if not the entire Sierra. I completed the famous loop in 12 hours, 31 minutes, starting at 5:30 am and finishing just after 6 pm. The loop is 46 miles long and climbs from 5,035 ft at the trailhead to 11,978 ft at Glen Pass. The portion between Vidette Meadows (Mile 14) and Woods Creek Crossing (Mile 29) is along the John Muir Trail. The highlight of the loop is the Rae Lakes area, a chain of large alpine lakes over 10,500 feet with views of rugged Sierra peaks. The trailhead is at Road’s End in magnificent Kings Canyon and travels along Bubbs Creek and Woods Creek, including Vidette Meadows, Castle Domes, and Paradise Valley. Most backpackers do the loop clockwise, which makes sense as you gradually gain elevation through the Rae Lakes basin. However, for running it makes more sense to go counterclockwise reaching the highpoint at Glen Pass in 18.5 miles, followed by 27.5 miles of downhill, in theory (there are lots of blips).

A strong storm on October 13th dropped several feet of snow above 9,000 feet, and a substantial amount of snow remains which made for slow going between Charlotte Lake junction and Dollar Lake (~8 miles). The snow was particularly deep on the north side of Glen Pass with an icy crust layer on top of powdery snow. The result was a lot of postholing and I often could not find where the trail was buried until near the Rae Lakes, but the views of the Sierra with a fresh coat of snow more than compensated. The trails along the loop are generally rocky and rugged precluding a consistent fast pace. I found the section before and after Mist Falls (miles 41 to 43) to be particularly rocky and rough on tired legs at the end of the day.

Complete trip report with many photos and splits here or on Cascade Climbers. Map here.

Splits after the jump!

Location (Elevation): Time Elapsed / Split / Real Time
Mile 0 – Road’s End TH (5,035 ft) : 0 / 0 / 05:30
Mile 2 – Paradise/Bubbs Jct. (5,120 ft) : 14:53 / 14:53 / 05:45
Mile 4 – Sphinx Junction (6,240 ft) : 45:03 / 30:11 / 06:30
Mile 11 – Junction Meadow (8,136 ft+) : 2:11:59 / 1:26:55 / 07:42
Mile 14 – Vidette Meadow (9,514 ft) : 3:06:09 / 54:11 / 08:36
Mile 18.5 – Glen Pass (11,978 ft) : 4:55:49 / 1:49:40 / 10:26
Mile 21 – Rae Lakes (10,564 ft) : 6:20:11 / 1:24:21 / 11:50
Mile 24 – Dollar Lake (10,170 ft) : 7:48:51 / 1:28:40 / 13:19
Mile 29 – Woods Creek Crossing (8,492 ft) : 8:46:16 / 57:25 / 14:16
Mile 34 – Upper Woods Creek (~7,500 ft) : 9:43:18 / 57:02 / 15:13
Mile 42 – Mist Falls (~5,500 ft) : 11:37:00 / 1:53:41 / 17:07
Mile 44 – Paradise/Bubbs Jct. (5,120 ft) : 12:14:12 / 37:12 / 17:44
Mile 46 – Road’s End TH (5,035 ft) : 12:31:37 / 17:25 / 18:01

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3 Responses to “Rae Lakes Loop”

  1. Buzz Says:

    That’s remarkably late for the High Sierra! Good of you to squeeze one more in. You’re ticking all the classics.

    No more of that here in Colorado; the hills above Boulder got 30″ of snow since last night.

  2. Jphi Says:

    Very nice ! I made a moutain run in sierra nevada last may, 45 miles average too. It was incredible!
    My photos are there :

    http://www.runtheplanet.fr/Expeditions/Pages/High_Sierra_Trail.html

    and in my blog :

    http://runtheplanetfr.blogspot.com/2009/05/running-in-sierra-nevada.html

    I would be interested to have your GPS track. Is it possible ? Thanks!

  3. Interval training Says:

    beautiful!

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