Rae Lakes Loop Trip Report

5 Days

July 13-18, 2009

49.2 Miles

Links to my documents and other helpful links Profile of the 5 day trip

Complete gear list with weights: HTML, Excel

Original Itinerary

Garmin route data - .gpx, Excel, HTML

SEKI Web Site (NPS.gov)

SEKI Wilderness Permit

Packing a bear canister

Backpacking checklist

5 Day Trip Profile - SEKI
All of the mileage reflected for this trip is from my Garmin 60csx, and reflects every time my pack moved, not just straight trail miles. For example, we may have scouted an area before selecting our campsite, or walked to a lake or stream for water. The total winds up being slightly more than straight trail miles, but reflects a true picture of actual miles hiked.

Getting There, Grants Grove and Cedar Grove

On Saturday July 11, 2009 Revan, Elena and I flew to Fresno from Minnesota, lugging our backpacks with us. We got a rental car at the airport, and stopped in Fresno to pick up fuel canisters at REI. We also picked up fishing licenses at Herb Bauer (Big 5 was out of both fuel and licenses!), and then drove to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park. Our plan was to spend the first night in Grants Grove, and drive to Cedar Grove the next day. I wanted Elena and Revan to get a chance to see the Giant Sequoia's. I also wanted an extra day at elevation to help us get acclimated before we started hiking. You can see our original itinerary here: Rae Lakes Loop Itinerary . We planned on 7 days on the trail, which turned into 5 days as things progressed.

Flight to Fresno
Flight from Minnesota to Fresno
Kings Canyon National Park
Entrance to Kings Canyon at Grants Grove

We arrived in Grants Grove in the late afternoon. We stopped at Grants Grove village to check into our cabin and grab dinner at the restaurant at Grants Grove Lodge.  Our cabin was rustic, but I liked it - it helped set a "wilderness" mood! No showers in the cabin, but there were showers a stones throw away. We finished dinner in time to head over to the Grant Grove Ranger Campfire program. When I was a kid we went to these many, many times. Even as a teenager we would pretend they were lame, but we still went! Half the fun was walking in the dark to get to the Campfire and amphitheater. Somehow, it just felt right taking my "kids" to one of these! Sort of a rite of passage.

Cabin in Grants Grove SEKI
Cool little cabins at Grants Grove
Campfire at Grants Grove
Ranger giving talk at campfire program

The following day, we explored Grants Grove, and hiked several of the Giant Sequoia trails. The popular General Grant Tree trail was nice, but did not allow you to get close to the trees. If you only have limited time, or have accessibility concerns, this trail is perfect. I highly recommend taking the time to hike one of the other Giant Sequoia trails however. We hiked the North Grove Loop trail which is close to Grants  Grove Village. It is only 1.5 miles long, on an easy unpaved trail, but the difference between this and the General Grant trail is night and day. We only met 2 other hikers on this trail (as opposed to the crowds on the General Grant trail). This trail provides solitude, and you are allowed to touch the trees. I can't describe the feeling of leaning against a Giant Sequoia that is thousands of years old, and looking up into its branches towering high above me. It is beyond amazing.

Giant Sequoias
Stand of Giant Sequoias
Giant Sequoias
General Grant
Giant Sequoias
Tree Hugger

We needed to be at Roads End in Cedar Grove to pick up our permits before they closed, so we packed up and headed to Cedar Grove. We stopped at Hume Lake. I went to camp here one summer over 30 years ago. It was just as I remembered! The drive from Grants Grove to Cedar Grove is spectacular. The terrain opens up to craggy vistas and deep canyons.

Hwy 180 to Cedar Grove
Drive on 180 to Cedar Grove
Hwy 180 to Cedar Grove
Map of Hwy 180 to Cedar Grove
Gas Pumps at Kings Canyon Lodge
I love these old gas pumps at Kings Canyon Lodge

The plan was to get to the Ranger Station at Roads End before they closed at 6:00 pm so we could pick up our permits and bear canisters. That way we would be able to do our final packing the night before, and get an early start on the trail the next day. Did I say 6:00 pm? We got there at 3:10 pm, just minutes after they had closed at 3:00 pm! I have no idea why I thought they closed at 6. It worked out fine though, because we took the afternoon to do some hiking and exploring around Cedar Grove. We drove back to Cedar Grove and checked into the Cedar Grove Lodge, and then went exploring. We hiked to Roaring River Falls, and then on to Zumalt Meadows. We tried to hike the loop around Zumalt Meadows, but we were attacked by a bazillion mosquitoes. We didn't have Bug spray (how could I forget the dominant wildlife in a MEADOW??) so we headed back to the car. We did see a bear at Zumalt (our only bear sighting on this trip) so I was really glad we had done the hike.
I spent many summers in Cedar Grove as a teen, so it was really great to be able to see and visit all the old hangout places. We hit the sack early so we could get up at 6AM and make it to the Ranger Station by 7AM when it opened Monday morning.

Bear in Zumalt Meadow
Bear in trail to Zumalt Meadow
Zumalt Meadow
Zumalt Meadow

Day 1

Additional pictures

Grants Grove




























Cedar Grove