Backpack Rae Lakes via Glen and Kearsarge Passes

Onion Valley Campground

This is a fairly challenging hike, depending on your pace and level of fitness, but it offers some incredible views, which the pictures don't really do justice.

The hike starts at Onion Valley campground and includes a good deal of elevation (two passes around 12,000 feet). You start climbing at the outset, and keep climbing for the first couple of hours before hitting Kearsarge Pass. Here you begin a long descent, then traverse above some beautiful lakes on the Sierra High Route before joining the PCT/John Muir Trail, which brings you to the second climb and Glen Pass. After this, it's another long and occasionally steep descent into the Rae Lakes area.

Campfires are not allowed above 10,000 feet, which means they are forbidden at Rae Lakes campground. Bear canister is a necessity.

Pack List

  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag
  • Bear canister (required)
  • Food
  • TP and shovel
  • Water filter (or steripen)
  • Whisky (ditch the bottle, use a bladder)
  • Book/cards
  • Camera
  • Good map
  • Trekking poles (not a necessity, but very helpful)
  • Advil/Tylenol for joint soreness
Show More
RT Distance 41.4 Miles
Elevation Gain 6943 Feet
Activities Chillin, Camping, Photography, Swimming, Backpacking, Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Summer
Features
Lake
Scenic
Wildlife

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Challenging but beautiful

I took 2 days to get to Rae Lakes, and camped at Kearsarge Lake on the first night. I liked breaking it up because it's a quite challenging day to get all the way to Rae Lakes, since you have to hike up and down 2 mountain passes. Make sure to jump in the lake when you get there! So cold, but refreshing! There are tons of camp sites around the lake, but it can be quite a popular spot since it's on the John Muir Trail.


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