Backpacking

John Muir Trail: Rae Lakes Loop

$2995

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Matteo Fiori
Matteo Fiori

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(800) 231-4575
Hike a famous section of the John Muir Trail
View panoramic vistas from the top of Glen Pass (11,926')
Explore Rae Lakes & 60 Lakes Basin

The John Muir Trail is one of the most classic trails in the world and what better way to experience it than with “The Best Outfitter On Earth!” On this classic week long backpacking trip we’ll navigate the accessible Rae Lakes Loop through the wilderness of King’s Canyon National Park. Along the way we’ll tackle the JMT’s famous Glen Pass (11,978’) and camp in the Rae Lakes Basin beneath the Painted Lady and Fin Dome. This challenging route has huge payoffs, getting you deep into the heart of California’s incredible Sierra Nevada mountain range.

2024

July 20 - 27, 2024
2 spots available
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2025

July 19 - 26, 2025Join Waitlist

Pricing

2024: $2995 per person

Price based on shared hotel occupancy
Single Room Supplement:
Requested $110, Forced $55

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Trip Itinerary

John Muir Trail: Rae Lakes Loop - Day 1 - Meet your guide in Fresno, CA John Muir Trail: Rae Lakes Loop - Day 1 - Meet your guide in Fresno, CA

Your trip begins in Fresno, CA at the Fairfield Inn & Suites, located across from the Fresno airport (you can check in at the hotel anytime after 4pm). At 6pm you will meet your guides and group for a trip orientation, where you’ll do a final gear check and discuss the details of the trip. Dinner tonight is on your own at the hotel.

John Muir Trail: Rae Lakes Loop - Day 2 - Enter Kings Canyon and Hike to Charlotte Creek John Muir Trail: Rae Lakes Loop - Day 2 - Enter Kings Canyon and Hike to Charlotte Creek

After breakfast, we will meet our private shuttle for the approximately 2.5 hour drive, mostly on winding mountain roads to the Road’s End Trailhead (5,500’) in King’s Canyon National Park. From there we’ll lace up our boots and hike along the Bubbs Creek Trail. Tonight’s camp will be at the confluence of Charlotte Creek and Bubbs Creek (7,000’), with Charlotte Dome looming overhead.

7 miles, Elevation Gain: +2702’/ -402′

John Muir Trail: Rae Lakes Loop - Day 3 - Follow Bubbs Creek up to Charlotte Lake John Muir Trail: Rae Lakes Loop - Day 3 - Follow Bubbs Creek up to Charlotte Lake

This morning we’ll continue following Bubbs Creek upstream until we connect with the famous John Muir Trail in Vidette Meadow. From there we’ll turn northward, heading uphill for a memorable climb beneath the Kearsarge Needles. We’ll arrive at our camp on Charlotte Lake (8,800’) by late-afternoon, in time for sunset and relaxing lakeside as your guides prepare a well-earned supper!

7.5 miles, Elevation: +3585’/ -521′

John Muir Trail: Rae Lakes Loop - Day 4 - Climb Glen Pass (11,978') and Camp in 60 Lakes Basin John Muir Trail: Rae Lakes Loop - Day 4 - Climb Glen Pass (11,978') and Camp in 60 Lakes Basin

We’ll wake early today for what will be a challenging and iconic day. The highlight will be crossing one of the JMT’s famous high passes: Glen Pass, at 11,978 feet! After enjoying the views from the top we’ll descend into the wildly scenic Rae Lake Basin, the namesake of our famous high country route. We’ll finish our day making camp at Rae Lakes (10,544’).

5.5 miles, Elevation: +1969’/ -1811′

John Muir Trail: Rae Lakes Loop - Day 5 - Layover day: explore 60 Lake Basin John Muir Trail: Rae Lakes Loop - Day 5 - Layover day: explore 60 Lake Basin

Today will be a layover day to hike around 60 Lake Basin and enjoy some free time in the afternoon.

Mileage: varies, Elevation: varies

John Muir Trail: Rae Lakes Loop - Day 6 - Reach Woods Creek John Muir Trail: Rae Lakes Loop - Day 6 - Reach Woods Creek

Sunrise this morning is sure to be spectacular for the early risers. After another hearty breakfast we’ll break camp and hit the trail, eventually joining with Woods Creek at the “Golden Gate of the Sierra”, a suspension bridge spanning the creek. We’ll bid farewell to the JMT here, turning towards Paradise Valley (~7,000’). We’ll make camp tonight at any number of camps along the creek that might strike our fancy!

~8 miles, Elevation: +433’/-2526′

Today we’ll pack up and hike down through Paradise Valley to the South Fork of the Kings River for our last night of camping.

7 miles, Elevation: +520′ /-2428′

We’ll pack our backpacks one final time for the last portion of trail, setting our sights on cold drink back in King’s Canyon. This final stretch will continue to astound, as the river strengthens and we pass cascading falls before exiting the trailhead to meet our shuttle. Expect to exit in the early afternoon. Private shuttle will arrive with lunch and take you back Fresno as your final destination.

6 miles, Elevation: +274’/ -1831′

What's Included

Accommodations

  • 1st night’s lodging at Fairfield Inn & Suites in Fresno
  • 6 nights of wilderness tent camping (permits included)
Gear

  • All group gear including stoves, cookware, water filters, group first aid kit, etc.
  • Personal backpacking gear provided by request: backpacks, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, trekking poles, and tents
Transportation

  • Day 2 private shuttle from Fresno to starting trailhead
  • Day 8 private shuttle from ending trailhead to Fresno
Food

  • Starting with breakfast on Day 2 and ending with lunch on Day 8
  • Backcountry gourmet meals including trail snacks
  • Hot tea or coffee served each morning

A Few More Notes

Travel & Logistics

This trip begins and ends in at the Fairfield Inn & Suites in Fresno, CA. The hotel is conveniently located across the street from the Fresno Yosemite International Airport and provides a complimentary shuttle service from the airport if needed. Plan to arrive at the hotel before 6pm so you can meet your guides and group for your trip orientation. If you are driving to Fresno, you are welcome to leave your vehicle parked at the hotel during your trip for no additional fee. Any additional luggage you have can be stored at our secure facility during your trip. At the end of the trip, a private shuttle will pick up the group in Yosemite Valley and will drop off at the Fresno airport or at the Fairfield Inn. We recommend booking flights no earlier than 6pm on the last day.

Training & Preparation

We want you to have an enjoyable and successful experience out on the trail, so it’s important to come prepared! We recommend a rigorous training plan in the months leading up to your trip, focusing on endurance, cardio, and aerobic activities as well as core and leg strength (don’t forget those abs and quads)! Day hikes or short overnight trips with a weighted pack (30-35lbs) is the best way to train for both the physical and mental aspects of backpacking. Activities like cycling, running, step-master or stairs, are all great additions to a training routine. Be sure to include hilly terrain and steep climbs whenever possible throughout your training.

Looking for more tips? Check out our blog!

Permits

Depending on the wilderness permit, this is itinerary may also be done in reverse. Permits cannot be confirmed until 6 months in advance and departures aren’t guaranteed until our permits are in-hand. We recommend holding off on booking flights, etc until after permits are confirmed.

What's not included
  • Personal clothing & footwear
  • Dinner on the first night in Fresno
  • Recommended 10%-20% gratuity for guides
  • Trip Insurance (strongly recommended)
  • Airfare
  • Voluntary or involuntary evacuations

Trip Reviews

Jordan S, 2023

Rae Lakes Loop is stunningly beautiful. Our guides Riley and Emma were both fantastic and made a great team! I learned a ton about the local flora and fauna, and loved their stories. Great option for beginner backpackers as long as you train up to the pack weight.

Stacey S, 2019

Joined for the Rae Lakes Loop Adventure. My guides provided around-the-clock positive encouragement and all the support to make this trip successful. All the important details were arranged. We had tasty food including coffee. My guides watched the weather and trail conditions to keep our adventure safe. I would most certainly use SYMG again.

Tom H, 2016

There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about our great experience with you all on the Rae Lakes Loop trip back in August. It was great and the scouts would all agree. Most are ready to go back. I am planning another trip for next Summer!
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Southern Yosemite
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