Loch Leven Lakes Trail is a 8.1 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Norden, California that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from May until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
8.1 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1,545 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

backpacking

birding

camping

hiking

snowshoeing

trail running

forest

lake

views

wild flowers

wildlife

over grown

rocky

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.

23 days ago

Pretty. Wasn’t overly populated. Easy to get off trail here.

hiking
1 month ago

fantastic finish..larger lake then I expected..great and peacefull views to be had at lakes...moderate is appropriate rating..can be better marked at beginning..u never know who put cairns up off trail..once you cross railroad tracks be ready for a decent amount of tree root/rocky trail..great for an overnight camping trip..just pick a spot..stoves ok for now..couple good spots around 2nd lake on sandstone for fire pits...shall return next spring

backpacking
1 month ago

This is a great hike. Challenging, but worth the trek especially if you intend to camp. Just a couple of things I found would make it more enjoyable. Keep your app open as it is helpful to get you back on track as this one is a tough one to follow in many places. There are cairns the entire trail... thank you to those putting those in place. I wore tennis shoes which was fine, but hiking boots would have been better especially with the rocky terrain that covers most of the trail. If you’re backpacking I recommend trekking poles. This made the trip a lot easier for me just for stability while carrying the weight on the rocks and over boulders and downed trees. Day pack probably not necessary. Camped out at the last lake, had some great picks with fire pits. It was pretty and only a couple of us up there for October. Beautiful night. Had cellphone service the entire way, but could also still hear the highway at the last lake as well.

hiking
1 month ago

Beautiful hike! Quite the workout, but very worth it!

1 month ago

Was great hike today. Hardly anyone there. Despite what previous poster said, leashes ARE NOT required this being the national forest. Would be very difficult to hike this trail with dogs on leashes. Difficult for the dogs and difficult for the owners especially if your using hiking poles which btw I recommend. Besides it’s usually the leashes dogs that are aggressive or unsocialized. Or the owners’ anxiety that causes this. Our group had 6 very well behaved trail dogs that are used to hiking. And yes we pick up the poop. Overall good hike, a lot of uphill; thus, a lot downhill.

2 months ago

Be advised - this trail is for LEASHED dogs only! And please be considerate of others who might have dog fears or leashed dogs with some aggression issues. I was appalled when I walked the trail yesterday!

hiking
2 months ago

loved this hike, steep but so worth it!

hiking
3 months ago

Great hike. Would consider more moderate than difficult. One downside is the freeway noise for the first mile or so

backpacking
3 months ago

Lovely hike but extremely busy. Almost ended up making camp away from the lakes as there was hardly a spot to setup camp. Finally found a nice little spot at the northeast end of Upper Loch Leven Lake.

backpacking
3 months ago

Great trip last weekend with my eight year old daughter and some friends. This was her first trip and was as good hike for both of us. The lakes are absolutely gorgeous and the 2nd lake is perfect for camping. We got a little lost on the granite before the railroad, but the markers were pretty good to help get us back on track. The only downside is the number of people. We saw people everywhere we looked and had people hiking through our campsite on the east side of the lake constantly. Nevertheless, the experience was great for the first time and having my 8 year old say at the end of the trip " We are so doing that again!" was the highlight for me!

backpacking
3 months ago

NOTE: For those complaining about people walking through your campsite, don't camp by the trail or water! First of all, it's expected that people would walk through. Secondly, there's a rule that you set up camp at least 200 feet away from both the trail and the water. Don't blame others if you were one to not follow those guidelines (and use your judgment).

The first time I did this trail was on 7/4/2017. I went back a few weeks ago with my friend who I had actually met there, then I went on 8/11/18 to backpack with my boyfriend for the Perseids meteor shower. I was worried about it being a tough hike with our packs, but it wasn't bad at all since we averaged about 35 minutes on the way up. I also made sure to hydrate the day before and day of.

As others may have mentioned, you can take the wrong path where all of the exposed granite is. There are cairns that do help, but at least keep the map on you. Other than just a couple of those spots, the trail is easy to follow. There are lots of downed trees that are climbable, or you can walk around a few of them. Also pack lots of water or at least bring a filter, and bring food. Sunscreen is also a great idea.

After the seemingly-endless rocky switchbacks, you'll notice that this is the perfect hike your both you and your furry friend to swim in an alpine lake or three! The lakes are also never packed, so they're truly gems hidden away into the mountains. All three are beautiful. We camped at the second lake atop a granite hill. Beautiful view of the sky..

By the way, if you think you hear a bear, it might just be the common nighthawk making booming sounds with its wings. It scared us half to death.

hiking
3 months ago

Absolutely beautiful trail! Very fun and a great challenge, but we definitely got off trail a few times. I’d definitely recommend having someone come with you who knows the trail. There were a few stretches where the trail dwindles off and you can’t really tell where to go. But other than that amazing!

backpacking
3 months ago

Spectacular views, lots of campsites. Very rocky.

hiking
3 months ago

Absolutely love this trail. I’ve done it three times now. It’s definitely a work out and a climb so bring plenty of water. I made the mistake of not bringing enough for both my dog and myself and it hurt me bad. Also watch your footing as the granite and loose rocks can make for an easy ankle roll (did that my second time on the hike). Lakes are gorgeous at the top and there’s plenty of spots for everyone to sit and enjoy. You’ll see backpackers and day hikers at the top and you’ll share smiles because the hike was not an easy one. Recommend bringing a lunch or snacks if you’re making it a day trip :)

3 months ago

I always forget about the bouldery portion after the train tracks- strenuous but then eases up on the knees after that. The higher lake is definitely worth getting to, less crowded.

3 months ago

Tough hike but very rewarding. Visited the three lakes and Lake Salmon on the way back. I’m glad I wore ankle high hiking boots over the rough, rocky and rutted trail.

3 months ago

I love this trail! I've hit it in skis, snowshoes, and hiking boots. Good times all around.

4 months ago

Kicked my butt trail. Nice elevation change. Wish the smoke wasn’t there right now. A lot of the normal views were not visible but the hike was a lot of fun and I’m so glad that people have kept the trail so clean.

hiking
4 months ago

Super nice and diversified trail! We did it as a half day hike (a little bit under two hours to the highest lake). In my opinion more a MODERATE then a hard hike (there for sure is a rocky section tho). The first 0.5 mile of the trail is a little tricky to follow, I was glad I brought my phone for GPS. Bring your dog and plan on taking a dip in the lake(s)!

hiking
4 months ago

I agree that it is a hard hike, especially coming back down. If you have a knee issue, use poles to soften the impact on the rocks, tree roots and just altogether steep and rugged trail terrain. The lakes are worth all the hard work to reach them. Middle Loch Leven is about 6 miles RT, but don’t get fooled by the shorter mileage. It’s still tough go. I have thought to make it a shuttle by putting a car at the Salmon Lake TH & hiking out by way of Salmon Lake & in at the Loch Leven TH. This would make hiking out less strenuous on folks with knee problems like I have.

4 months ago

This trail kicked my butt! Thankfully I went with a group who knew the trail, otherwise I never would have been able to stay on track. There are portions where you’re climbing/hiking over big slabs of rock and I still have no idea how they knew which way to go. I’d definitely recommend having this mapped out before losing service (although my phone worked the whole time). The views were beautiful at the top, but this is definitely strenuous; it was uphill the entire way. My group hiked up to the second lake because it wasn’t much further and it was worth it. We stopped there and had lunch, got in the lake, and then went back. Be prepared to work hard and bring lots of water because you’ll need it! The way down was a little rough too just because it’s very steep and my poor knees felt the impact the next day. Overall- great workout and beautiful lakes.

mountain biking
4 months ago

Do not attempt on a mtb. I couldn't find any info saying it's not allowed. You'll find yourself carrying your mtb 80% of the time and that's from RR tracks and down. Was not fun.

backpacking
4 months ago

Took my kids up to the middle lake for two nights. The lake was beautiful and perfect for swimming with some great jumping rocks. Trail was rocky and steep at times. Did it in running shoes and regretted not having hiking boots. We were tired so decided not to head up to the upper lake, also heard it was pretty crowded up there. The lakes were beautiful but the rocky trail was tough on the feet. Would do it again!

backpacking
4 months ago

Up hill to lake..lake seemed to be dead ( no fish) pretty but better hikes

4 months ago

Great hike, but hot this weekend (Mid July). Bring lots of water. Plan to swim or bring a float to enjoy the beautiful lakes.

5 months ago

recently backpacked loch levens for an overnighter. trail is mostly uphill and rocky, but not horrible. The hike was quick and lower loch leven had a great camping spot towards the back. Overall, was a great hike and camp.

5 months ago

Day hike, over night camping, fishing, dog friendly and beautiful granite basin lake to swim!

backpacking
5 months ago

This trail was very challenging, but also rewarding. We went on a Saturday in June , and saw a lot of hikers on the way up, but not so much that I would call it crowded. Everyone was conscientious and kind, good hiking ethic all around. I didn’t see any trash and didn’t see any signs of irresponsible hikers. (According to the forest service, Campfires are allowed with a permit, which you can pick up at any ranger station and online w CALFire.) A wonderful trail to explore! We did it as an overnight backpacking trip and I’m glad we did, because we needed the rest in between. The hike back was also challenging, although mostly downhill, because of slippery rocks and steep terrain. Come prepared with a lot of water and a strong will to succeed, it is worth it. Ps- the trail can be easy to lose at parts, especially around the granite rocks. They have painted orange marks on the granite to help guide the way. A map is helpful.

hiking
6 months ago

This was a good go, up to the three lakes. But, VERY rocky and rooted in sections. If you're looking for a decent hike to a couple of beautiful alpine lakes, consider the Azalea/Flora lake trail which TH just east of Boreal and behind the Donner summit rest area. MUCH better and shorter trail and the lakes are not as big, but very pretty and swimmable.

6 months ago

Early June, not a lot of people. Lakes are serene

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