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Loch Leven Lakes Trail

MODERATE 376 reviews
#3 of 193 trails in

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

camping

hiking

snowshoeing

trail running

bird watching

forest

lake

views

wild flowers

wildlife

over grown

rocky

snow

NOTE: This trail may vary in difficulty depending on the trail conditions, such as snowy or melting snow conditions. 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.

trail running
bugs
muddy
off trail
over grown
scramble
snow
washed out
5 days ago

Got back last night at sunset after making it to Middle Loch Leven Lake from the parking lot. The trail is currently rated as VERY HARD and requires off-trail routefinding over snowfields. Use your phone's compass to navigate within alltrails app. Seeing other's footsteps every so often was inspiration/motivational. I made it to the top wearing running shoes, but highly recommend boots. After the railroad tracks, much of the trail is muddy or submerged by snowmelt. Use rocks and hillsides to scramble up the switchbacks. Watch out for thinning snow drifts, especially where there is running water. Many bugs out there, but fortunately very few mosquitoes. Yesterday there were hailstones the size of ice cubes and thunder in the distance. Incredible 5 hours of adrenaline rush and much willpower to keep moving forward!

hiking
7 days ago

I truly enjoyed this hike, the problem was that there was still snow up in the mountain and trail ...and it was in the middle of June!! But all in all it was good exercise and plus getting thru the terrain was a good work out

hiking
muddy
rocky
snow
8 days ago

backpacking
snow
9 days ago

Me and a couple buddies hiked up to the 2nd Lake for an over nighter June 8th. The trail was snow free up until the railroad tracks. When we started to pothole we slapped on our snowshoes. We could hear the creek beneath the snow but had to trail blaze a good portion of the way up. Got to the second lake and found the first site that had dirt to set up camp. It was good size and could probably fit a party of 10 so about 5 two person tents. A majority of the lake was still frozen but near shore was a good place to grab and filter water. Would like to come back and make it to the 3rd lake one day. Overall an awesome experience. Brain dump: Decent cell service for emergency calls to family. First come first serve parking and free. Shout out urban forestry for doing trail maintenance. Mike who handed out a post hike beer, delicious. Slid down portions of the mountain and felt like a kid again. Man made trekking poles helped out a lot. Always crossed paths with interesting ppl with good stories. Seen the actual train on the way back.

hiking
snow
15 days ago

After the bridge there is lots of snow. I wasn’t ready to trek in the snow. I made it to the rail road tracks and could not locate the trail from there. I’ll wait a month until it melts. I’m sure it’s beautiful, but I had to turn back and couldn’t do more than the two miles up to the the rail road.

hiking
16 days ago

We only made it a few dozen yards past the small bridge, short of the railroad tracks. We had some young kids with us, and the snow was too challenging. A few people were coming down from the first lake as said it was beautiful, and showed us a pic of a mostly frozen over lake. Camping and fishing weren’t going to happen this weekend, but we’ll try again in the fall. June 8, 2019.

hiking
snow
21 days ago

I had the absolute best day with my boyfriend and our blue heeler (cattle dog) in this trail. It’s my third time (first time using a trail map). Right now the trail is covered in snow after you cross the bridge. Lean into the fun of searching for the trail and making your way up - it’s hard sometimes and you’ll find yourself slipping at least once. We used our bodies to sleigh down. The lake is exquisite with glacial blue waters.

hiking
snow
22 days ago

Surprising amount of snow made for slippery conditions today. Trail is not always clear, and was pretty faint after the bridge. Recommend downloading map. Beautiful at the top. Melting lakes are a special type of blue. Dog was happy and tired. Sunscreen!

hiking
22 days ago

Fun trail, great views at the top! Pretty much all snow after the railroad tracks. Saw bear tracks in the snow so bring your bear spray.

hiking
snow
23 days ago

hiking
23 days ago

Great trail! Lots of snow after the railroad tracks, enough to cover the trail. The view at the top is awesome and the thawing lakes were beautiful!

muddy
snow
washed out
25 days ago

Did this hike on 5/28/2019. It was tough going because the trail was very poorly marked at this time of the year. We were following the Alltrails map and even with this and Google maps, we still couldn't stay completely on the trail. Wouldn't recommend attempting without having the map downloaded or wait until trail is correctly marked. We made it to the bridge but turned back due to deep snow. Really nice views nonetheless. 4 stars only because of lack of trail markings.

2 months ago

one of my favorites

hiking
snow
2 months ago

Snowshoe to High Loch Leven Lake. We traveled in the snow so no trail to follow other than some snowshoe tracks, which were not always correct. The route I recorded is our return route only, so you need to follow it backwards. (Our outbound hike to the lakes occasionally ran into places where we had to reroute, so you wouldn't want to follow it. On our return we followed our tracks that worked, so it's a good route ). Other than climbs, the only real challenge is the creek crossing near the beginning of the route. When snow is deep but the creek is running, need to find a snow bridge.

hiking
5 months ago

Nice trail! Well worth going all the way. The trail starts out over populated since it’s close to the highway. Initially this makes following the trail a little challenging but becomes easy as you go. Went Jan 1st so there was a bit of ice and snow. Glad I had ice cleats. Couldn’t have done it without them. I will definitely do this trail again!

7 months ago

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

hiking
7 months 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
8 months 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
8 months ago

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

8 months 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.

8 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
9 months ago

loved this hike, steep but so worth it!

hiking
9 months ago

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

backpacking
9 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
9 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
9 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
9 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
10 months ago

Spectacular views, lots of campsites. Very rocky.

hiking
10 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 :)

10 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.

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