CALL US 800-231-4575


Difficulty descriptions are by nature very subjective. The categories below represent generalized distinctions in terrain, level of commitment, time spent at elevation and overall trip duration. Level of commitment refers to the ability to opt out of activities such as peak ascents from a base camp. A committing trip requires a daily mileage to be completed each day.

These trips typically travel on groomed trails at a leisurely pace. You can expect maintained trails, gentle grades and more flexibility in terms of your destination for the day. Hikers will carry mainly the essentials in a light daypack and travel anywhere from 3 to 8 miles depending on the trip or preference.

Moderate- Basecamps
These include hiking, backpacking, or stock-supported trips that take place mostly on maintained trails to get to camp. These trips hike into a set basecamp and then offer optional destinations with varying degrees of challenge. You can expect modest climbs on uneven terrain. Total distances are often 4-7 miles of hiking per day over 3-4 days of hiking.

These trips include on- and off-trail hiking or backpacking or stock-supported trips. The trails can consist of uneven terrain with modest to difficult climbs and some steep passes (gains of 1000-2000’). These trips are typically 3-5 days in duration but can be longer. For backpacking trips, they can include carrying a fully weighted pack (30-42lbs) and travel 6-10 miles per day.

These trips include on- and off-trail hiking, backpacking or stock-supported trips with uneven terrain and steep grades and passes. These trips are more physically and mentally challenging and usually 7-8 days in duration. For backpacking trips, pack weight will consist of (30-40lbs). Because these types of trips have a required mileage to complete each day, the level of commitment is high. Trips in this category spend significant time at higher elevations and often cover 8-12+ miles per day with average gains/losses of 1,500-3,000’ per day. The most successful people on these trips have some prior overnight backcountry experience.

These trips include on- and off-trail hiking or backpacking on uneven terrain with steep grades. These trips travel 10-12+ miles per day and can vary from 8-21 days in length. Given the mileage and duration, there is an increased amount of physical and mental challenge throughout the trip. Pack weights will consist of 35-45lbs depending on the resupply schedule. Because these types of trips have a required mileage to complete each day, the level of commitment to reach your destination is high. The most successful people on these trips have extensive overnight backcountry experience.

Rae Lakes Loop

About the trip

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 moderately challenging route has huge payoffs, getting you deep into the heart of California’s superlative Sierra Nevada.

ACCOMMODATIONS: 1st night lodging, 6 nights of tent camping

EQUIPMENT: We supply all group camping gear (stoves, cookware, water filters, group first aid kit, etc.). We can also supply personal camping equipment (backpacks, sleeping bags, ground pads, and tents) upon request with no additional fee. You are welcome to bring your own personal camping equipment if you prefer. A detailed gear list will be sent to you upon registration

MEALS: We provide meals from breakfast on day two through lunch on the last day. Our "Backcountry Gourmet" meals have been acclaimed in Sunset Magazine. We take pride in providing excellent meals even in remote surroundings.

YOUR PRICE INCLUDES: Meals (as noted above), group camping gear (as noted above), personal camping equipment (as listed above), accommodations (as noted above), transportation to and from Fresno and trailhead, applicable permits, professional mountain guide(s), pre-trip planning packet, and trip support from our friendly office staff.

NOT INCLUDED: Personal clothing and footwear, personal gear not listed under “Equipment” above, meals while in the front country, tips for guides (10-20% of trip cost is customary), and optional trip cancellation insurance.

PREPARATION: Training is paramount to the enjoyment and success of your trip. We recommend rigorous exercise in the months prior to your trip to bolster sustained cardiovascular/aerobic activities as well as core and leg strength. Day hikes with a weighted backpack, preferably on hilly, off road terrain, is the best way to train for our trips. Activities such as cycling and step-master type machines (or stadium stairs) are excellent for training as well and are preferable to a routine comprised solely of running. Be sure to include hill and steep climbs wherever possible on all training.

Full Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive to Fresno CA, FAT. Guides will meet you for an orientation. Dinner to follow on your own at the Hotel.

Day 2: After breakfast, we will meet our private shuttle for approx. 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 hit the Bubbs Creek Trail. Tonight’s camp will be at the confluence of Charlotte Creek (7,000’). 7 miles.

Day 3: 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 arrive to camp at Charlotte Lake (8,800’) by mid-afternoon, with time to enjoy swimming and relaxing by the lake. 9.5 miles.

Day 4: We’ll wake early today for what will be a challenging and very memorable day. The highlight will be crossing one of the JMT’s famous high passes. This will be 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 make our camp at Rae Lakes (10,500’). 6 miles. 

Day 5: Layover day to hike up to 60 Lake Basin and free afternoon back to Rae Lakes.

Day 6: Sunrise this morning is sure to be spectacular for the early riders. 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.  About 7 miles. 

Day 7: 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.

Day 8: Today we’ll pack our backpacks one final time, 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. About 7 miles. Private shuttle will arrive with lunch and take you back Fresno as your final destination.

*This itinerary may be done in reverse depending on the wilderness permit.

Note: Permits cannot be confirmed until March 1st of this calendar year. Thus, we cannot guarantee departures until our permits are in-hand; typically this is not an issue in Kings Canyon National Park. We highly recommend holding off on booking flights, etc until after March 1st when we confirm our permits. Please call if you have any questions!


*Similar trips include: Yosemite High Passes LoopRed Peak LoopYosemite Grand Traverse Backpack

Trip Details

8 Days / 7 Nights

Group size
4-13 participants with 1-2 mountain guides

Difficulty Rating

$2295 per person

price based on shared room occupancy
Single Lodging Supplement: Requested Single $110; Forced Single $55

2020 Trip Dates
July 18- 25, 2020
Custom dates & pricing available!


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!

-Tom Horton Troop 55, Houston, TX - Aug, 2016