Explore the most popular birding trails near Norden with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

This trail will be GREAT in about a month. It’s got great elevation gain and beautiful views, but you can hear the freeway for much of the hike. When I went in early May and there was enough snow that I started to post hole in places. Once my feet got cold and wet I turned around. I would definitely try this hike again when it’s not covered in snow.

hiking
13 days ago

Fantastic hike as always. Still a few feet of snow beyond the railroad (as of May 5, 2018), but getting up to the first lake is entirely doable in waterproof shoes or boots.

Great hike. Still a lot of snow to trek through.

backpacking
1 month ago

Our family has enjoyed this both as a day-hike and as an overnight.

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.

hiking
3 months ago

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

hiking
4 months ago

There is some ice at first and deeper snow as you climb, but the views are great! If you stick the to gps you can stay on he trail up and back. The trail gets creative with the snow cover.

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!

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...

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

hiking
6 months ago

Fabulous out and back 8 miler from Hampshire Rocks Road during the first snow, 5-8 inches depending on where. Nobody within miles and a great spot for a bowl of chicken noodle soup.

hiking
7 months ago

Includes about a mile of unshaded switchbacks and small rock climb at summit. Awesome views. Was somewhat crowded on an October weekday - this is a school trip for Donner Tahoe kids!

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
7 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.

Excellent hike and camping. Must have a fire permit and bring warm clothes.

hiking
8 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 !

Beautiful! Want to go again!

backpacking
8 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.

Absolutely gorgeous! Labor Day weekend - Due to late snowmelt all varieties of wild flowers were visible along the trail at all stages. 3rd time hiking this trail and it never disappoints. It's long, a full day activity and the downhill always feels like it lasts forever

Fun hike with several great lookout points to see donner lake and the sierras. Steep, rocky steps at start (a bit harder for our dogs), but then even elevation throughout the rest of the hike.

hiking
8 months ago

Nice hike! Do it in the morning. Gets crowded and more sunny later. First part is very rocky. Plenty of dogs on trail.

on Loch Leven Lakes Trail

8 months ago

Fantastic trail!!! Gorgeous alpine lakes and wildflowers.

hiking
8 months ago

Worth it!

hiking
9 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
9 months ago

Beautiful lakes. Pretty intense uphill with pack.

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!

Did this one today as we came off Mt Judah...easy climb up to some beautiful scenery!

This was a nice hike. A good climb going up. Very beautiful. We took our dog and she loved it! There was evidence of bears although we didn't come across any. We don't make it to the end of the trail this time because of the rain but would like to another day. Take note, don't park in the campground you could get a ticket. The campground manager warned us because we parked near one of the access roads. She was nice about it but said don't do it again. The day use area charges a fee and is quite far. This hike would be best for folks camping at Lodgepole campground.

backpacking
9 months ago

Quite a short hike to get to Salmon Lake but if you'd like to travel further you can connect over to Loch Leven Lakes which is not far. We decided to camp on Salmon Lake. There are about 5 or 6 well-established campsites in place. One group set up a campsite on the west side of the lake in a nice spot. Another duo were sleeping under a tarp in the NW area. The water was perfect as far as temperature and going for a swim was great. There are lot of catfish in this little lake and if you dangle your feet in the water they nibble at your feet. Good thing they don't have teeth :-)

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