Rae Lakes Loop

20-23 July 2003

by Bill Finch

I talked my daughter Jane into hiking the Rae Lakes Loop during the summer of 2003. She had proven herself a capable hiker on several other trips so we decided to stay out a little longer than our usual trip.

Day 1

It had rained earlier in the week so the trail was firm and dust free. We stopped at Baily Bridge for a morning brunch break. Baily Bridge
We enjoyed the river sounds at our first break.

It was more humid than usual because of the recent rain but hiking conditions were not uncomfortable. We took a leisurely lunch break at Mist Falls then proceeded to our first camp in Upper Paradise Valley. Mist Falls
Mist Falls was not at its peak.

Day 2

After a quick breakfast the next morning, we crossed the South Fork of the Kings River on logs and ascended Woods Creek. south fork xing
Jane had no trouble with the log crossing.

We took a lunch and photo break at Castle Domes Meadow. Castle Domes
The cliffs along Woods Creek are impressive.

We crossed the suspension bridge over Woods Creek in the early afternoon. bridge
This is one of the more impressive bridges on the John Muir Trail.

As we ascended the John Muir Trail (JMT) toward Rae Lakes we took many water breaks and photo breaks. photo break
We took lots of breaks on this very hot day.

It was as hot as I can ever remember for this elevation. hot
Grasses had dried out for the summer.

Finally, Woods Creek began to widen Woods Creek
Even the lower Rae Lakes Basin is beautiful.

and Fin Dome came into view. Fin Dome
We were on the last leg to our day two campsite.

We found a camp spot at Arrowhead Lake, joining a dozen or so other groups. Arrowhead Lake
This lake was a zoo. We wished we had hiked to the next lake up.

Day 3

After packing up the next morning, we began the most scenic day of the trip. packing
Jane puts the finishing touches on her pack.

We spent time taking a lot of photos of the spectacular scenery and had a chance for a brief visit with Ranger George Durkee. Rae Lake
Jane takes another photo of Rae Lake.

Rae Lake
There are lots of great scenes in this lovely area.

Finally, we left the beauty of Rae Lakes and began our ascent toward Glen Pass. We stopped to take photos of flowers photo op
From here onward the trail steepened.

and took a long break at a lovely spring. Trail crew had particularly well engineered the trail around this ice cold spring. spring
The trail crew did an incredible job of arranging the rocks around this spring.

The climb to the pass was steep steep climb
The trail became ever steeper toward the pass.

so we stopped now and then to admire the scenery and rest. lakes
Jane admired the view of the lakes north of Glen Pass.

Once atop Glen Pass, we had to cover up against the wind while we took a lunch break. Glen Pass
It was time to put on the windbreakers.

Soon we headed down the south side of the pass down
Jane navigated the tight switchbacks on the south side of the pass.

toward the day's destination, Charlotte Lake. Charlotte Lake
Jane took a look at the map and suggested a shortcut to Charlotte Lake.

We left the JMT above the lake and took the old trail, which was in pretty good shape in places considering it has been abandoned for decades. Jane threatened to eat my share of Oreos at dinner but I managed to prevail on her sense of fair play. oreos
I managed to talk Jane out of eating all of the Oreos.

Day 4

The next morning, we rejoined the JMT and discovered we had another 18 miles to hike. Jane looked pretty confident so I figured it wouldn't be a tough day. The trail sign said we walked 18.7 miles on our last day. trail sign

It wasn't tough, at least for Jane. She sprinted down the trail, stopping now and then to pose for a photo. cascades
Jane asked be to take her photo in front of these cascades.

We had lunch at a beautiful Bubbs Creek waterfall just above Junction Meadow. waterfall
This was where we took our lunch break on day four.

I had a hard time keeping up with her ahead
I couldn't keep up with her.

but she let me catch up as we crossed one of the Bubbs Creek bridges BC bridge
She waited for me at the first Bubbs Creek Bridge.

and again at Baily Bridge. Baily Bridge
We had only two more miles to go!

For Part 1 of a four part video, click here.

Rae Lakes Loop Map

One Page Version 22 January 2013