Loch Leven Lakes Trail

HARD 241 reviews
#5 of 126 trails in

Loch Leven Lakes Trail is a 7.3 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Norden, California that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from May until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
7.3 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1535 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dog friendly

backpacking

birding

camping

hiking

snowshoeing

trail running

forest

lake

views

wild flowers

wildlife

over grown

snow

High alpine lakes aplenty in the Tahoe National Forest. Located directly of Interstate 80 this trail will have you hiking deep into the Tahoe National Forest in no time, in search of scenic high alpine Sierra Nevada lakes. Because this trail needs to be tackled during the summer and fall months to avoid winter conditions this popular trail can get quite busy, but the hike still remains a worthwhile trip.

3 days ago

As others have mentioned, trail is a little hard to follow at first. look for footprints in the snow and cairns. Lots of ice on the trail, recommend yaktrax. Snow is deeper after the foot bridge. I turned around just below the first lake as the trail disappeared and I began postholing to my knees, snowshoes would be helpful here. Fairly strenuous trail and good views along the way. Dog loved it and I was the only one there on a Tuesday.

1 month ago

You can’t go wrong with a trip here. Fun to get too from both trails.

1 month ago

Interesting and always a little different depending on the time of year. In the summer make sure you have the right gear on for a swim at the top!

hiking
2 months ago

Don't go without ice trackers. Icy granite is no fun in just hiking boots! It was my own fault for not being more prepared, but I will be back, it's absolutely beautiful. probably made it a half mile in before hitting an impasse and turning around...

2 months ago

First part of trail hard to follow. Had to look for stacked rocks to figure out which way to go. Hardest part of hike is to the first lake. Make sure to go the extra distance and hit the second lake...it was stunning. Third lake was difficult to find and I'm not sure we even found it or it was really just a small pond. We went in early part of September

4 months ago

There are many false trails in the beginning. You really need a GPS to stay straight. The uphill is like climbing stairs. At times like climbing up a dry creek/waterfall. Did not make it to the lake, so, only 3 stars.

hiking
4 months ago

Nice hike. Went as far as Lower LL lake as a day hike. About 7.5 miles, but had some false starts at the beginning that added a bit. Most of the first 3 miles is uphill, but not to the point it is extreme. I found coming back down to be more fatiging, as there are a lot of large steps down. Felt like an hours worth of squats in the gym. Most challenging part is staying on trail during the first quarter mile or so. The trail goes across rock and isn't obvious. Lots of false trails that lead nowhere.

hiking
5 months ago

Very disappointed and offended. First off I have been going to these lakes since the 1960's when my father took me fishing here as a young boy. Yes, back then there were fish in these lakes and my father taught me to catch and release here to preserve the fishing so others could enjoy later down the road. We have a cabin just miles from the TH so this was a place we would hike on a regular basis. My father passed when I was 12 years old, I have continued to go here throughout the years to present date.

When I was younger this trail was rarely used, in fact there was little to no erosion on the trail, yes that's right the trail was easily hiked on back then. Now to the present time. Thanks to the internet and word of mouth this trail and the lakes in the area are over used and being abused by people that have no clue what they are doing in nature. The trail has eroded to a rock ruble torn up mess, the lakes have all been fished out by selfish so called anglers and the backpackers are leaving behind human waste along the shores and surrounding areas within the 200 foot space and burning illegal camp fires.

So, all of you reading this....... If you come to this beautiful place, leave no trace ! If you are camping here and using the land as your bathroom, do it right, get away from the lakes a minimum of 200 feet, dig a hole at least 16 to 20 inches deep and bury your crap !! Pick up your ass wipe and pack it out with you !! I saw so much human crap and ass wipe on my last hike here on Labor Day 2017 it made me sick.

I am a regular here and have been for over 50 years, I practice what I preach and care for the natural resources I use. I keep a lookout for those abusing the area and yes If I see you doing something wrong I will let you know about it, take photos of you doing illegal tasks and report you to the rangers, so treat this place with respect.

Update.....

I just called the USFS in Nevada City , CA. I have requested to speak to one of the land resources managers there. I have also emailed them with links to posts on Facebook that some visitors of Loch Leven Lakes have posted with campfires burning. FYI, CAMP FIRES ARE NOT PERMITTED IN THE AREA ! I am going to push to have rangers do more patrols in the area for illegal fires and littering of human waste and ass wipe. I am also going to push to have human waste bags a requirement here when doing over night campouts.

You have all heard the phrase, " one bad apple ". Well, there is more than one bad apple using this area and I am going to do my best to clean it up !

backpacking
5 months ago

HARD but beautiful trail. Expect lots of uphill and a rough trail. It looks like the trail has eroded a lot from rain/snow melt--so lots of boulders and rocks. We packed up to the High Loch Leven lake--worth it to escape the crowds and enjoy the beautiful lake. Lots of granite rock scrambling nearby and a ridge near the lake to climb for a great view.

5 months ago

Fantastic trail!!! Gorgeous alpine lakes and wildflowers.

hiking
5 months ago

Worth it!

hiking
6 months ago

Great hike with wild flowers and prize at the top, serene lakes. Climb up the rocks is a good workout and well worth it. Started early morning on a Friday and was nice with very few people. Middle lake was perfect for a swim. Wear hiking shoes and bring lots of water. Moderate hike and be ready for incline up the rocks .

backpacking
6 months ago

Beautiful lakes. Pretty intense uphill with pack.

hiking
6 months ago

Went on 7/23/17 with my fiancé and our dog. The trail took us about 5 hours, with stopping at the second lake for a bit. We did not go to the third lake. This is NOT a trail for beginners, the rating of difficult is accurate.

Dog considerations: If you are going to hike this trail, I seriously suggest that your dog wear rubberized hiking booties. The trail contains many areas with jagged, rough, loose rocks. We saw a couple of dogs limping, or with bleeding feet. Our dog, Leopold, wore Petacc booties with rubber bottoms and they saved his feet. For under $20 from Amazon, you have no excuse. This was the first time our dog wore booties, and we are so glad we brought them.

Parking: The parking area is clearly marked, has bare-minimum composting restrooms, and we found it easily using Google maps from Sacramento.

Trail: The trail-head has a marker and begins across the street from the parking lot, at about the mid-point of the parking lot. The trail was easy to find for the most part. We had some difficulty finding the trail on the way back down, during what was the first half-mile of the trail when we were going up. If it feels unsafely steep then you’re probably not on the trail! We had to venture more to the right (facing down the mountain) and we linked back up with the proper trail. A lot of the trail was in the shade, after ascending the first steep, rock mountain-side portion. However, 95% of the trail was steeply uphill on the way to the lakes, so bring a lot of water and some snacks! It also cooled off at the lake elevation, but was pretty hot until that point. There were a few areas where the trail was blocked by fallen trees, but we were able to navigate around them easily.

Lakes: We did not spend a ton of time at the first lake, and instead splashed around in the second lake and ate our lunch there. Our dog picked up a leech at one of the lakes, which we noticed on the way back down. He likely picked it up in the first lake, because it was smaller and more murky. The second lake was clearer and larger and I didn’t notice any leeches on me after playing in the water there. (Maybe don’t play in the first lake!)

Difficulty: All Trails is not joking when they say this hike is difficult. If you haven’t hiked in years, or do not exercise regularly, I would not recommend this hike for you. There are many slippery portions, a lot of loose, sharp rocks, and the trail is a steep ascent.

Traffic: Contrary to some other reviewers, we found this trail to be lightly trafficked on the Sunday we went. We passed 5-6 small pods of people on the way up, and fewer on the way down. At the second lake, where we stopped for a bit, there were only two other people and one dog enjoying the lake. We saw the fire ring and camping area at the second lake, but no one was there. Looked like a great spot to camp!

Rating: Five stars for great views, pristine (second) lake, and a good workout!

hiking
6 months ago

Over all great hike. Several groups camping but the hike was fine for single day.
Very rocky trail with lots of slabs and boulders. Gotta be pretty hard on the dogs feet!
The lakes are very nice but in the summer heat you need to start early. The return trip gets HOT!

hiking
6 months ago

This trail is so awesome. Challenging, but so worth it!

Easy to get to with a parking lot across from the trailhead. I got there around 6:45 am and there were few cars there, by the time I came back down, the lot was full. I didn't see anyone, with the exception of a deer, on my way to the lakes, but passed tons of people on my way down - when it was already so hot. I recommend taking this hike in the morning.

I hiked to all three lakes. Saw a few people camping at each lake.

Getting to the third lake wasn't as hard as I had anticipated and was really happy the lakes were about a half mile apart.

This is a hard trail. Step climbs and assents. But each step of the way is truly beautiful. I got turned around a lot on the granite sections, easily losing the trail, but thanks to the map, I found my way.

If you've wanted to check this hike off of your list, do it. And bring trekking poles, if you've got em.

backpacking
6 months ago

I just backpacked this trail June 21-22 and It was a beautiful and rewarding hike. My buddy and I wanted do some backpacking, but both had limited time and couldn't get up to there until early evening on Friday, so we appreciated that the trailhead was easily accessible right off the freeway, and that the trail itself was not too long. The lakes are all beautiful. My favorite was probably the 2nd lake, as it was the largest and best for swimming in. It was a bit crowded up there Friday night, and since we had a late start we had to settle for a less desirable camp site. The trail Itself had quite a few fallen trees across it, but otherwise it was dry and relatively easy to follow. Overall a great, and relatively short trail to do for those who have limited time, but still want a moderately challenging hike to get their heart rate up.

backpacking
6 months ago

We headed out Friday morning and found a nice camp spot at the middle lake. Beautiful. However, by Saturday morning crowds of people came pouring into the lake. We were a bit disappointed w/our fellow trail mates. We had unfriendly hikers walking through our campsite early Sat. morning. We watched as one groups dog pooped in the lake right were we were filtering water. We decided to leave and the trail was so crowded that it took a long time to get down. Only one small creek is running near bottom of trail. A lot of folks were running out of water half way up the trail. We watched several people carry out or push tired kids and dogs down the trail. If you like crowds this is the trail for you. If your looking for solitude or serious trail folk stay away or come on a weekday.

hiking
6 months ago

Loved this hike yesterday! It is no joke in terms of the uphill climb for the first half, but the beautiful lakes are totally worth the great workout. The rocks were a little challenging at times, but not a big deal for me or my dad - though some folks on the trail were complaining about them. Do swim in the middle lake - made all the difference in terms of feeling refreshed for the way back down - and as long as you swim in the top layer, the water isn't that cold. Lots of beautiful wildflowers, crazy awesome views of the lakes. Bring plenty of water, sunscreen and snacks. Enjoy!

6 months ago

Beautiful hike! 2nd lake is the prettiest. At times trail can be difficult to stay in.

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