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Rae Lakes Loop

Kings Canyon National Park

Kings Canyon Links:

September 9th - September 14th, 2001

47.9 miles
9545 vertical feet
43 hours, 7 minutes
Rating: 10/10

Directions:   View Driving Map

View full map

(Note: the trail route above was created post-hike using electronic maps (not GPS) and is very rough. I might try to refine it in the future. The numbered markers represent our camp sites.)

Jean and I went on a 6-day backpacking trip in Kings Canyon National Park. On our first trip to Kings Canyon back in 1999, we'd hiked up to Paradise Valley on a day hike and really enjoyed it. We noticed there were backpacking camps there and hoped to someday do a backpacking trip there. Two years later, we did that trip.

We left the Bay Area on Saturday. I'd hoped to leave by 9am, but we didn't leave until about 1:15pm. Along the way, we stopped at Casa de Fruta, where we ate lunch in the diner-like restaurant. The burgers leave something to be desired, but the fish and chips are decent.

It'd been over a year since our last trip to Sequoia/Kings Canyon. Since then, they'd completed a new section of Highway 180. It helpfully avoids the streets of Fresno for 3 or 4 miles.

I didn't bother to check which Cedar Grove campgrounds were closed. I also didn't bother to get the park map which shows where the campgrounds are. I figured I'd been here before. Well, we passed Moraine campground, which was closed, and ended up going all the way to Zumwalt Meadow before turning around. We went back (about 7 or 8 minutes) to Sentinel Campground and set up at our camp around 7:30pm. It was relatively crowded for being after Labor Day, I thought, but at least we didn't have the rowdy neighbors like in past holiday weekends we'd been there.

Rangers are in the process of installing much larger bear boxes -- 3 times the size of the old ones. This is either a testament to an increasing bear problem, or a testament to the excess of American car campers.

The next morning we woke up at 6am and quickly broke camp. I'd called two weeks earlier to try to reserve a permit, but they only accept reservations three weeks in advance. I didn't expect it to be a problem, since only 7 of the 25 spots were reserved, but I still wanted to be there at 7am when they would start handing them out. I needn't have worried. When we arrived at Road's End, there was no one there. We self-registered, filling out the permit form and leaving it on the table.

After getting the permit, we returned to the Cedar Grove restaurant. Jean wanted her coffee. Unfortunately, it wasn't open until 8am. So we set up our stove and cooked our breakfast. We noticed there was a building for showers; we looked forward to using it at the end of our trip. After breakfast we stopped by the restaurant, changed into our hiking clothes, and drove back to Road's End, where we prepared for our journey.

1Road's End to Middle Paradise Valley 6.71700170
2Middle Paradise Valley to Woods Creek Crossing 7.82200390
3Woods Creek Crossing to Rae Lakes 6.32250310
4Rae Lakes to Sixty Lakes Basin and back to Rae Lakes 7.014451445
5Rae Lakes to Vidette Meadow 7.617202750
6Vidette Meadow to Road's End 12.52304390

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