Best 40ish mile backpacking loop in the Southern Sierra


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Trad climber
Morro Bay
May 27, 2019 - 10:31pm PT
Rae Lakes is certainly bitchin, would always give that one a big thumbs up... but damn that Mineral King loop is sure nice.

Yes it's only about 25-28mi, but it can be done in 3 solid days. I'm talking you leave early from O'side, drive straight up, and do 5-6mi on your first day over Timber Gap. There's an AWESOME site on the SW side of the creek at 5.5mi (the other side has about 20 spots to throw your tent, and bear boxes), if you're really lucky you will get it, it's completely secluded and you're right next to the river/creek, just unbelievably gorgeous spot. I've scored it every time. Second day is a full 11-12mi, with some lake swimming, and the last day is 12 easy miles with more high alpine lake swimming, one of the most gorgeous I've ever swam in. Last 3-4mi are very nicely and lightly downhill, not too steep, and you might be able to drive back that day, or go somewhere else and spend one day in a hotel on the coast before facing the little terrors, err, lovely children, again.

food for thought, google the "Mineral King Backpacking Loop, plenty of good info. DON"T camp at Pinto Lake, stay at the awesome spot at Cliff Creek, and just do solid days on day 2 and 3. I promise you won't regret the trip and I'll double your money back if you don't like it :)


May 28, 2019 - 09:01am PT
For a climber, picking a loop past Angel Wings is always worth it, though the slog out on the High Sierra Trail can be a bit tedious. You can make loop by going over Elizabeth Pass, over Triple Divide Peak and the come south to Nine Lakes Basin to the Big Arroyo and back out the High Sierra trail if you don't want a shuttle. ...or come in from Mineral King, go over Glacier Pass, pass Spring Lake wall, over Hands and Knees Pass, to the Kaweah's for something more remote, then exit out the Kaweah gap to the spectacular descent past Hamilton Lakes/Angels wings back to Crescent Meadow.
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