Roads End to Onion Valley Trail

Lone Pine, California

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Much of this section of the John Muir Trail mirrors the venerable Rae Lakes Loop, one of Kings Canyon’s most celebrated hikes. Its popularity is not surprising given that it squeezes nearly every alpine highlight into a jam-packed 35-mile adventure: waterfalls, wood thickets, riverside valleys, picturesque alpine lakes, high-mountain passes, and stunning views of jagged peaks. Starting with a moderate climb, rise through lush Paradise Valley before joining the John Muir Trail as it crosses Woods Creek on a spectacular suspension bridge. Continue ascending up-canyon to reach the justifiably famed Rae Lakes, a chain of gorgeous high-altitude lakes sitting below Glen Pass (11,978 feet). If time allows, plan a layover day at Rae Lakes to loll about in supreme alpine splendor before summiting the pass. Descending toward Vidette Meadow, continue south while the Rae Lakes Loop returns west to the trailhead. Leaving the JMT, head east rising to yet another lofty perch at Kearsarge Pass (11,845 feet) before exiting the wilderness in Onion Valley. Outstanding features: Mist Falls, Paradise Valley, Rae Lakes, Glen Pass, Kearsarge Pass

Roads End to Onion Valley Trail Professional Review and Guide

"Much of this section of the John Muir Trail mirrors the venerable Rae Lakes Loop, one of Kings Canyon’s most celebrated hikes. Its popularity is not surprising given that it squeezes nearly every alpine highlight into a jam-packed 35-mile adventure: waterfalls, wood thickets, riverside valleys, picturesque alpine lakes, high-mountain passes, and stunning views of jagged peaks. Starting with a moderate climb, rise through lush Paradise Valley before joining the John Muir Trail as it crosses Woods Creek on a spectacular suspension bridge. Continue ascending up-canyon to reach the justifiably famed Rae Lakes, a chain of gorgeous high-altitude lakes sitting below Glen Pass (11,978 feet). If time allows, plan a layover day at Rae Lakes to loll about in supreme alpine splendor before summiting the pass. Descending toward Vidette Meadow, continue south while the Rae Lakes Loop returns west to the trailhead. Leaving the JMT, head east rising to yet another lofty perch at Kearsarge Pass (11,845 feet) before exiting the wilderness in Onion Valley. Outstanding features: Mist Falls, Paradise Valley, Rae Lakes, Glen Pass, Kearsarge Pass"

Activity Type: Backpacking, Hiking
Nearby City: Lone Pine
Distance: 35
Trail Type: Shuttle
Skill Level: Moderate to Difficult
Duration: 4–5 days
Trailhead Elevation: 5,000 feet
Top Elevation: 11,900 feet

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