John Muir Trail: Rae Lakes Loop - Guided Backpacking Trips

John Muir Trail: Rae Lakes Loop

Activity Level
Trip Length
8 days
Group Size
up to 13 guests

John Muir Trail: Rae Lakes Loop


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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 superlative Sierra Nevada.


July 22 - 29, 2023Book now


2023: $2795 per person
2022: $2795 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 Itinerary - Day 1 - Meet Your Guide in Fresno, CA

Your trip begins in Fresno, CA at the Wyndham Garden Hotel 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 Itinerary - 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 (7,000’).

7 miles, Elevation Gain: +2759’/ -449'

John Muir Trail: Rae Lakes Loop Itinerary - 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 and uphill for a memorable climb beneath the Kearsarge Needles. We’ll hopefully arrive to camp at Charlotte Lake (8,800’) by mid-afternoon, in time to enjoy swimming and relaxing by the lake.

7.5 miles, Elevation: +3259’/ -407'

John Muir Trail: Rae Lakes Loop Itinerary - Day 4 - Climb Glen Pass (11,978') and camp at Rae Lakes

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 (10,500’).

5.5 miles, Elevation: +1969'/ -1811'

John Muir Trail: Rae Lakes Loop Itinerary - Day 5 - Layover Day: Explore 60 Lake Basin

Today will be a layover day to hike up to 60 Lake Basin and head back to Rae Lakes for some free time in the afternoon.

Mileage: varies, Elevation: varies

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

Sunrise this morning is sure to be spectacular for the early risers. After another hearty breakfast and packing up camp we’ll continue through the lakes basin, 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 as we see fit.

7 miles, Elevation: +433' -2526'

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

7 miles, Elevation: +620' /-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.

7 miles, Elevation: +774'/ -2431'

What's Included


  • 1st night's lodging at Wyndham Garden Hotel in Fresno
  • 6 nights of wilderness tent camping (permits included)


  • 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


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


  • 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 at the Wyndham Garden Hotel in Fresno, CA conveniently located across the street from the Fresno Yosemite International Airport. The hotel 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 us up at the ending trailhead and return to the Fresno airport or at the Wyndham hotel. We recommend booking flights for 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!


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

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