Hoping to complete a 3 or 4 night backpacking trip in California this July -- ideally in Sequoia National Park or Kings Canyon. Does anyone have any suggestions? I came across Rae Lakes Loop, but it looks like it is more of a 5 night trip. We are advanced hikers (have done off-trail in Wyoming), willing to drive, and hoping to avoid Yosemite crowds.
Thank you in advance!
If you're still somewhat open to it and just worried about the crowds, backpacking in Yosemite is AMAZING, and it's relatively easy to avoid the crowds if you're backpacking. Most visitors to Yosemite stick to Yosemite Valley and only hike within a mile of the major roads. If you head straight for the backcountry and don't drive into Yosemite Valley, you'll have plenty of open space.
Regarding Yosemite wilderness permits:
Even though some of the really popular trails won't have permits available, there are always plenty of other trails, and luckily there's not a bad trail in the park. With 3-4 days, you can easily get out into the high country (up by Vogelsang), which is gorgeous. If you don't want to deal with getting permits ahead of time, you can just go to the Wilderness Office when you arrive and just see what trails are available when you want to start. There are always plenty of options available.
Sequoia and Kings Canyon are great too...I just haven't done as much backpacking there. I'm sure you'll have a great time wherever you end up.
Happy trip planning!
Check the mileage again for the Rae Lakes Loop. I did it last summer in 5 with several first time backpackers at a slow pace. We never set up camp after about 3-4 PM. We went clockwise on the loop and everyone had a blast. If your experienced you should be able to get it done in your time frame.
If you’re open to traveling to San Bernardino National Forest, there is a good backpacking route there. South fork trail to dry lake, it leads to the trails to summit Mt San Gorgonio ( tallest peak in So Cal 11,000+ ft)
Backcountry of Yosemite is usually not very crowded. Walk up permits out of Tuolumne are not that difficult. Having done the JMT, I would recommend a loop that includes Tenaya Lake, Sunrise lakes, Clouds Rest, Cathedral Peak & Lake, and Tuolumne Backpacker site (no RSVP needed w a backcountry permit). This is a great loop when you only have a few days to burn.