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Loch Leven Lakes Trail is a 8.8 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.

Length 8.8 mi Elevation gain 1,587 ft Route type Out & Back
Dogs on leash Backpacking Camping Hiking Snowshoeing Bird watching Running Forest Lake Views Wild flowers Wildlife Over grown Rocky Snow
Description
Waypoints (5)
Contact
Tips
Getting There

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.

California Travel and Tourism Commision, P.O. Box 1499 , Sacramento, CA, 95812-1499, Phone: 800-862-2543

Tips: - Best hiked between June and November. - Snowshoeing is also possible on this route, but winter conditions can often be challenging even to experienced hikers and snowshoers.

Directions from Nevada City: Travel east on Hwy. #20 to Hwy. #80 east, take the Big Bend Exit. The trailhead begins 0.8 miles east of the Big Bend Visitor Center.

Weather
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Reviews (829)
Photos (1305)
Recordings (734)
Completed (1566)
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Bria Fekete
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Hiking
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Patty Thomas
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Hiking
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kiu Chung
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HikingGreat!RockyScramble

This was a very nice busy trail with three beautiful lake to see. There are still smokey from the mountain. There are people backpacking overnight. Parking maybe a little bit overcrowded I suggest to go there a little early to finish the hike and get a better parking spot. I enjoy see the three lake. I went a little farer to see the salmon lake also. I actually did a 10 miles hike instead of 8 miles. Hikers are so nice out there enjoy sitting and eating lunch at the lake perhaps swimming also. I would said the second lake is the best since the lake is bigger. There are pit toilet at the trailhead. I won't suggest doing this hike all by yourself without the trail app. It is very easy to get to last the beginning of the start.

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kiu Chung
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Hiking
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Cody Howard
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HikingRocky

Definitely recommend getting there as early as possible. Was the only car there at 7:45am on a Thursday, and had the whole trail to myself until coming down. Full parking lot by the time I got back down at 12:15. Lake temps are perfect right now, trail is very rocky but safe, and a slow and steady incline nearly all the way. Pretty fall colors are starting, and the open blue skies and quiet were a welcome treat.

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Kerry Blackwell
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Hiking

What a great trail! A little bit of everything: exposed granite, pretty woods, riparian, a creek, three lakes and a railroad crossing! My dog loved it, especially the swimming. I imagine it has great flowers in the spring. Definitely on the “keeper” list!

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Marian Peralta
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Alyssa Perez
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Todd Tyler
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Rucha Geedh
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Christina Willis
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A R
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Hiking

First time, beautiful trail! Not too busy yet, I’m sure it will be by Sat-Mon. Air is clear, as is the view up top. Tough uphill portion from 1-5-2.5 miles— persevere!

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Mikala Pacifique
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HikingGreat!
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Sarah Audrey
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Hiking

Trail is well marked. There are 3 separate lakes. All lovely. Very peaceful up there.

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Jc Carlston
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Backpacking

Beautiful hike and lake. Great for a day trip and backpacking. The hike in is tougher than one is lead to believe but the payoff is worth the effort. Bring lots of water and pack light.

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Julia Green
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Hiking

Beautiful even though there's a ton of smoke. Make sure you take a good amount of water and sturdy shoes. So worth it!

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Carol Paw
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Hiking

Always beautiful. Very smokey right now. Ran into a rattlesnake on the trail! Almost bit me, hissed, shook its rattles and slithered away. Didn't think they lived up here, but sure enough. Mr. Rattler was somewhere between the tracks and the first lake in a shady spot at a turn in the trail. It moved under some bushes with exposed roots at shoulder level with the trail. On the left going up. Keep an eye on your ankles and dogs around that spot.

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Steve Jacobs
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HikingGreat!

From trail head to the railroad tracks the trail is not very clear. Once you cross over the tracks it is easier to follow the trail. I started out around 7am and finished around noon. Not to many people on the trail until I headed back down from the upper lake. Hiked in tennis shoes which I am now regretting. Rolled my ankles a few times due to the loose rocks on the trail. Otherwise great trail.

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Chani Knight
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Hiking

This was absolutely GORGEOUS. Didn’t take us very long, and we took almost two hours break at the highest lake. We got to swim in the lake and enjoyed the amazing views with very few people. The second lake was relatively crowded when we hiked past, but could have made the most of it if there was no other option. We definitely did a choose your own adventure style with the trail as we lost it a few times but ultimately it was a worthwhile adventure. Definitely wear good ankle support hiking shoes with quality tread. We started around 7:30/8am and I wouldn’t start any later than that as it gets very hot and there isn’t consistent tree cover. Would definitely hike this again!

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Johnny Ashford
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HikingRocky

first time here. dayhiked to the third lake and back. went for a swim, water was great! a good amount of people, but hey, im one of them, and these lakes are gorgeous, so i dont blame them. the parking spots get full pretty quick on the weekends. also, bring at least 3 liters of water, snacks, and sunscreen. the trail is exposed in most places and the uphill part will get your heart pumping, but its not too crazy. i for sure want to go back and spend a night or two up there.

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Steve Schult
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Camping

My son and I set off this weekend and hit the trail at 830AM and the parking lot was already full. We parked in the side of the road and your tires just need to be off the pavement. There we lots of people on the trail - some mask and some without, but everyone was respectful. We packed in for one night and the first part of the trail is rocky and watch for the stacked rocks to locate the trail. I recommend you use poles for balance if you have bad knees or ankle issues. Once you cross the rail road tracks the climb begins and you have some more rocks to scale. When you hit the top you will see the first lake which is beautiful. Three lakes to pick from and we picked middle lake. No issues with bears and great water! The third lake has more rocks to deal with on the trail and equally beautiful. Lots of campers this weekend. Overall a great first time trip and we will be back!

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Megan Alderson
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Hiking

Did an overnight backpack here with two 10yos. Hot and rocky climb up, but worth the gorgeous lakes. We camped at the last lake, magical swimming, thunder, beautiful sunset, there were other campers but not crowded. Highly recommend for a trip with kids!

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Kim Kraunz
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Hiking

Amazing! Did it as a day hike with 12 and 14 yo. Steep parts but swimming in the lake makes it worth it!

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Nicole Betts
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HikingGreat!

One of my all time favorite trails as I have been coming back many times over the last 20 years! My godparents who were local to the truckee area showed me this hike when I was in high school. Ever since I’ve returned many times some for just day hikes with close friends , backpacked, and I bring my spouse here too! It’s a challenging hike for being in relatively good shape but not local to the elevation. I absolutely recommend going to high loch leven and climbing up to one of the peak mountain rocks to the left side to get an amazing view of the mountains in every which direction to see the third, the second and some smaller lakes. Eat your lunch and take a dip in the water the temperature is perfect when it’s a nice sunny day like today!! Wear some good shoes or hiking boots with good grip lots of rock and some loose. A few wildflowers were still in bloom so lovely. Hope you enjoy!!

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naomi caldwell
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Hiking

My kids , dogs and I had a great day hike on Wednesday. We started out a little late , so by 11:30 the parking lot was full but we were able to find parking on the road. As others have stated, the first mile can be a little tough to keep track of the trail but after the train tracks it’s easy to follow . It’s definitely a climb up to the lakes . It was hot on the day we went and parts of the trail are exposed, so make sure you have plenty of water with you. The creek was low so we didn’t filter/ refill water until we got to the lake. The trail is in good condition but it’s very rocky in spots and could be a real ankle twister especially on the way down. We only went to the second lake but it was beautiful and we had a great time swimming. My biggest complaint is the trash left behind by others . The spot we swam at had micro trash everywhere. We pick up a bag of little things: wrappers , pull tabs, fishing line, hooks, and so on. Please clean up after yourselves! And leave no trace.

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Heather Hatch
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HikingBugsNo shadeOff trailRocky

The first of the trail is a bit hard to follow until you get to the train tracks. Once you make it to the train tracks the trail is very easy to follow, but the incline is no joke. We camped out at the second lake for one night, which we will never do again. We had bears all around us from 8pm to 5am, and realized we had a bears den not too far away from our tent the next morning when we woke up. This hike is so beautiful, the lakes are great to swim in. Bring your pool noodle! They are very light and make the lake relaxing to float on. We plan to go again but stay at the upper lake. It seems as though most people hiking were staying at the 3rd lake, which could be better to be around others unless you’re looking for a night alone with bears at the second lake. It took us 3.5 hours from start to the second lake with various breaks. Coming down it took us a little over 2 hours.

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