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Easy Sierra Loop?
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d s
(bigbadbrahim) - F

Locale: So Cal
Easy Sierra Loop? on 09/23/2009 01:09:03 MDT Print View

Hi all. Planning on taking off next week for 7 days. I was wondering if anyone could recommend an easy loop in SEKI. I was thinking of doing Rae Lakes but the though of climbing the entire first half sounds a little daunting. Is there anywhere that you can start a little closer to elevation and hit a good loop, say up to 40 miles? Thanks all!

Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
Re: Easy Sierra Loop? on 09/23/2009 01:45:58 MDT Print View

Perhaps take a look at the Jennie Lakes Wilderness area trailheads...

Dave T
(DaveT) - F
SEKI on 09/23/2009 09:52:40 MDT Print View

i was just down there, and i suppose a few options are doign the long, slow drive into Mineral King and making a hike out there. seemed like lots of folks where doing some kind of Mineral King, Timber Gap, Black Rock Pass, Little Five Lakes, Big Arroyo, and back over Sawtooth Pass (or Farewell Gap?) type of loop.

there are other options out of Roads End (Kings Canyon) too. of course, there's lots of climbing involved, but i guess that's what it takes to get above timberline!

have a great time.

Edited by DaveT on 09/23/2009 09:53:11 MDT.

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim) - MLife

Locale: Orange County, CA, USA
Re: SEKI on 09/23/2009 11:02:53 MDT Print View

I just did (month or so ago) a loop from Mineral King up over Timber Gap to Redwood Meadow, Hamilton Lake, Little Five Lakes, Columbine Lake, and then back to Mineral King. I did it over 5 days. If you do it over 7 it should be pretty easy.

It has the advantage of gaining altitude slowly while yet stil seeing a nice slice of the backcountry.
1st night 6000'
2nd night 8000'
3rd night 10000'
4th night 11000'

If you've got a couple of extra days, side trips in to 9 Lakes Basin and Big Five Lakes are possible (as are many others). I particularly liked Big Five Lakes. We took a relatively easy XC route from Little Five Lakes to and through the Big Five Lakes area which was a really nice alternative to the main trail. Number of people sighted during on our alternative route: zero. :)

Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
Re: SEKI on 09/23/2009 11:45:53 MDT Print View

Those Mineral King hikes are great, but more challenging than the Rae Lakes loop.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Easy Sierra Loop? on 09/23/2009 17:37:26 MDT Print View

" Is there anywhere that you can start a little closer to elevation and hit a good loop, say up to 40 miles? Thanks all!"

A little further north you could go in over Paiute Pass, drop down to the JMT, follow it through Evolution Valley/Basin, and exit via Bishop Pass. That's a pretty sedate hike, less than 40 miles, and traverses some pretty nice country. The Paiute Pass TH begins at ~9400' and ascends gently over ~5 miles to Paiute Pass at ~11,450'. From there it's all downhill to the JMT and a gentle ascent back up to Bishop Pass at ~12,000' some 20 odd miles later.
It's technically not a loop since you start at North Lake and exit at South Lake, but you won't have much trouble getting a ride back up to your car. This loop is about half in Kings Canyon NP and half outside the park.

Edited by Tom.

A nice overnight side trip on this route would be to hike up Goddard Canyon and spend the night at Martha Lake, then drop back down and continue your hike. Pretty country up there and not a lot of people.

Edited by ouzel on 09/23/2009 17:40:40 MDT.

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim) - MLife

Locale: Orange County, CA, USA
Re: Re: Easy Sierra Loop? on 09/23/2009 22:25:25 MDT Print View

That's a great "loop." You can connect North and South Lakes via the trail over Table Mountain. Haven't been over that trail in a long time. Might be worth a call to the Ranger Station to check on conds.

d s
(bigbadbrahim) - F

Locale: So Cal
SEKI on 09/24/2009 21:21:13 MDT Print View

Wow, thanks for the great suggestions everyone. Tom, Jim, I'm definitely going to look that route up on the map.

Looks like my trip is being pushed a week though. Has anyone experienced the mid October weather up there? I'll be going Oct. 11 to 18th. Looks like temps are staying warmer this year than the past. Still might have to put that new Feathered Friends bag on the credit card though!

Dave T
(DaveT) - F
east side. on 09/25/2009 10:08:35 MDT Print View

if you want a several day loop on the east side that starts way up at elevation (and is easily done in 4 days):

drive up the cottonwood pass road. hike over cottonwood pass, head past chicken spring lake, go up miter basin, east climb up mt. pickering (13,500), up miter basin and over crabtree pass, down crabtree lakes to JMT, head south past mt. guyot, and back around, climb mount langley (14,000+), descend old army pass, back to car. (and watch your brakes on the drive back down)

but WATCH THE WEATHER FORECAST if you are up there in mid-October. it could do just about anything (though it will probably be nice).

also, one of the best things to do is just buy a few of the Tom Harrison maps for the Sierra, and a copy of Secor's book, and Choose Your Own Adventure.

Edited by DaveT on 09/25/2009 10:10:28 MDT.

Casey Bowden
(clbowden) - MLife

Locale: Berkeley Hills
Easy Sierra Loop on 09/25/2009 13:15:14 MDT Print View


My personnel opinion, having done both, is that the Rae Lakes Loop is much easier than the North Lake to South Lake Loop. First, it's shorter (~40 miles vs ~55 miles) and second, you only go over one pass instead of three. Yes, you do start lower in elevation, but the climbing is very gradual, especially if you go clockwise.

Check out the backpacking section of for my trip reports of these fantastic loops.

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: Easy Sierra Loop on 09/25/2009 14:50:43 MDT Print View

I agree with Casey too. I have done both hikes and think Rae Lakes is MUCH easier