Rae Lakes Loop Backpacking Tour
Rae Lakes Loop Backpacking Tour

John Muir Trail to Rae Lakes Tour

8 days

Red tent in High Sierra MountainsMountains mirroring in the lake, seen on Rae Lakes BackpackBeautiful river in High Sierra mountainsBeautiful hills, seen along the route of Rae Lakes LoopRae Lakes in High Sierra Mountains (California)

Discover wild natural paradises spanning Kings Canyon National Park

Immerse in the wild on this challenging but fulfilling 8-day guided Rae Lakes Loop Backpacking Tour through Kings Canyon National Park. Expect to walk by a spellbinding collage of supernatural views, such as the Rae Lakes Basin and 60 Lake Basin. But the real highlight will be when you traverse Glen Pass on the famous John Muir Trail.

Once you kick-off your boots, you can bask in the natural oasis surrounding you at each wild campsite and reflect on the supercut of vistas that you just hiked by. Since you’ll be spending a significant amount of time trekking the John Muir trail, it’s only appropriate to leave this quote from him here, “In every walk with Nature one receives far more than he seeks.”

Depending on the permit received, this route might be done in reverse.

Please check out this blog to find out more about the COVID-19 precautions during the tour.

Highlights of the John Muir Trail to Rae Lakes Tour

Traverse a section of the famous, mesmerizing John Muir Trail, including a memorable ascent to Glenn Pass, where panoramic views await.
Spend two nights wild camping amid the breathtaking scenery flanking Rae Lakes—fall asleep to natural songs of the outdoors!
Enjoy a montage of scenery playing before your eyes as you hike, such as waterfalls, lakes, creeks and rivers, and the “Golden Gate of the Sierra.”
Hike to the spellbinding 60 Lake Basin without the weight of your bags during your stay at Rae Lakes.


From $2,795USD
8 days
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Rae Lakes Loop Backpacking Tour

John Muir Trail to Rae Lakes Backpacking Tour Itinerary

Day 1 Head to Fresno, California

Check into your hotel at 4 pm and relax before meeting your guide and the rest of the group at 6 pm. Go over an orientation for your upcoming expedition. During this chat, you’ll check your gear and discuss your trip in detail. You are on your own for dinner!
Overnight Location: Hotel in Fresno
Distance: None
Meals: None

Day 2 Go to Kings Canyon National Park

Consume a complimentary breakfast before travelling via a private shuttle for 2.5 hours to the Road’s End Trailhead. Leave your daily woes behind as the beauty surrounding Kings Canyon National Park swallows you. You’ll meander along Bubb’s Creek Trail before setting up at camp at the junction of two rivers at Charlotte Creek.
Overnight Location: Camping at Charlotte Creek
Distance: 7 mi, 2759 ft ascent, 499 ft descent
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3 Hike to Charlotte Lake

Enjoy walking upstream, along Bubb’s Creek Trail, until you reach the renowned John Muir Trail in Vidette Meadow. You’ll then embark on a remarkable ascent below the Kearsarge Needles. Eventually, you’ll reach Charlotte Lake, where you can relax and swim.
Overnight Location: Camping at Charlotte Lake
Distance: 7.5 mi, 2759 ft ascent, 499 ft descent
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4 Ascend Glen Pass

Get ready for a challenging day! Today you will head up Glenn Pass, one of the most famous passes on the John Muir Trail. You’ll get a chance to bask in the views before descending to the picturesque Rae Lakes Basin. Spend the rest of the day chilling and admiring the scenery!
Overnight Location: Camping at Rae Lakes
Distance: 5.5 mi, 1969 ft ascent, 1811 ft descent
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5 Discover 60 Lake Basin

Explore without the weight of your backpacks today. Leave Rae Lakes behind for a few hours and hike to the 60 Lake Basin. Enjoy a leisurely afternoon once you’re back at Rae Lakes!
Overnight Location: Camping at Rae Lakes
Distance: Distance and elevation will vary
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6 Head to Woods Creek

Admire the sunrise painting the sky golden—if you’re awake—before packing up camp and heading towards Woods Creek and the “Golden Gate of the Sierra,” a long suspension bridge that takes you across the creek. Say goodbye to the John Muir Trail as you head towards Paradise Valley. You’ll camp somewhere along Woods Creek!
Overnight Location: Camping at Woods Creek
Distance: 7 mi, 433 ft ascent, 2526 ft descent
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7 Hike through Paradise Valley

Spend your last of this rugged, exciting backpacking adventure hiking through Paradise Valley towards the Kings River's South Fork. Enjoy your last night of camping in the wild before re-entering society tomorrow.
Overnight Location: Camping in Paradise Valley
Distance: 7 mi, 620 ft ascent, 2428 ft descent
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8 Final day of hiking

Pack up camp before embarking on your final hours of hiking. Soak in the stunning views of the waterfalls and the river as you make your way to the trailhead. Upon arrival, a private shuttle will pick you up, provide you lunch, and transfer you back to Fresno, where the tour ends.
Overnight Location: None
Distance: 7 mi, 774 ft ascent, 2431 ft descent
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

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John Muir Trail to Rae Lakes Tour Price and Dates

This guided tour in the Kings Canyon is always run as a fixed-departure tour where you would be joining a group, therefore the price is fixed and only depends on the number of people sharing the room or a tent.

The prices below are per person:

Jul 24, 2022
Jul 31, 2022
From Fresno
To Fresno
8 days / 5 Spaces Left
Jul 22, 2023
Jul 29, 2023
From Fresno
To Fresno
8 days / 5+ Spaces Left

Accommodation on John Muir Trail to Rae Lakes Backpacking Tour

This backpacking adventure will have you staying in a cozy hotel one night. The hotel has modern necessities that will keep you comfy and relaxed. Keep in mind that rooms are double occupancy, but you can always upgrade to single occupancy for an additional fee. Single travellers are also required to pay a supplement. You will spend the remaining 6 nights backcountry camping.

In some cases, the accommodation listed below may be swapped for other similar accommodations.

Single Rooms and Solo Travelers
You can pay a supplement of $110 USD to have a private room in a hotel. We can match the single travellers up, however, in case there aren’t any matches, you’ll have to pay a supplement of $55 USD.

Hotels on Standard Tour

Wyndham Garden Hotel in Fresno ★★★

Enjoy this newly renovated and sparkling clean hotel in Fresno. Relax by the indoor and outdoor pools or admire the courtyard from your balcony.

Night 2-6

Camping in Kings Canyon National Park

Revel in the mountainscapes as you camp at lakefront and riverside spots below a blanket of stars.

What’s included in the John Muir Trail to Rae Lakes Backpacking Tour?


7 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 6 dinners, and trail snacks along the route are included.


Accommodations for 1 night in the hotel in Fresno, and for 6 nights of wilderness camping. Accommodations before and after the tour in Fresno are not included.

Transportation during the Tour

Receive a free private shuttle ride from Fresno to the trailhead, and from the ending trailhead back to Fresno.

Also Included

  • Guide
  • Personal backpacking gear (per request), such as sleeping bags, backpack, sleeping pads, tents, trekking poles
  • Group gear, such as stoves, group first aid kit, cooking items, water filters, etc.
  • Hot coffee and tea in the mornings

Not included

  • Flights to get to and from Fresno.
  • Personal clothing and shoes
  • Accommodations before and after the adventure tour in Fresno
  • Dinner on Day 1
  • Personal expenses + gratuities (recommended 10-20% for excellent service)
  • Evacuations
  • Insurance

Optional Extras

  • You can upgrade to a single occupancy in the hotel for an additional fee
  • Extra night in Fresno before or after the tour

Frequently Asked Questions about John Muir Trail to Rae Lakes Tour

SYMG was started in 1991 by three friends offering hiking trips into California's mountains in hopes of more closely meshing lifestyle with work. The combination proved successful and SYMG has become a leader in the active travel and mountain guiding world, providing carefully planned and executed trips in the most spectacular wilderness areas of California and beyond. Now, 30 years later, we've shown thousands of people the beauty of Yosemite and the High Sierra and have been named one of the "Best Outfitters on Earth" by National Geographic Adventure Magazine.

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Rae Lakes Loop Backpacking Tour Map

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Is this tour for me?

This tour is rated as 4 / 5, as it has you hiking moderate to challenging routes every day. You also need to be comfortable with camping in the wild for 6 nights.

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