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.

3 days ago

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

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

Great day today. Started off just after 8am. Nice time to start the day , never got too warm. Trail starts at the Sugar Bowl academy, very easy to find the PCT Trail head. Lots of shaded spots to have some lunch or a cat nap. Cross 3 streams for water fillups but those might be dry by the end of the month.
Instead of following Granite Chief trail that leads down to Squaw Valley Village, we followed the PCT around 2 more miles , ended up bush wacking a mile or so until we found ourselves at Squaw Valley High Camp. Here you can take a nice dip in the pool or free ride down in the Tram which is a great way to end a perfect day around. All and all with breaks and inclined, hikes around 2 miles per hr.

8 days ago

Beautiful trail, but you have to drive on about 6 miles of an unpaved fire road, so make sure you bring the appropriate vehicle. My ‘04 RAV4 did the trick, but any less clearance than that would’ve been rough. I had thought that any trail rated easy would’ve been toddler appropriate. It wasn’t. We hiked the whole way with my 18 mo in the hiking carrier. It was rough in some spots due to climbing on fairly steep granite. But doable. Salmon lake isn’t one I would want to swim in, but there is lots of fish. Lovely, remote. We were the only ones there, and we had a nice hike.

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.

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

Hiked this on Saturday, June 30! This is a perfect time to hike this trail. Passed a lot of through-hikers, say hello! The wildflowers are perfect as well, lots are popping, and should be good for at least another week or two - so beautiful. Make sure to tag Tinkers Nob at the half way point. Only one snow patch while leaving Sugar Bowl, but you can easily walk around - and should be melted out this week is my guess.

28 days 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.

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.

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

I went on May 31st. Gorgeous Lakes. The snow is gone now. I enjoyed noticing the freeway get quieter and quieter until the noise disappeared entirely. I started on the trail at 6:30 am and saw no one for four hours. I loved it.

1 month ago

Beautiful, challenging hike. Be prepared to go up switchbacks, climb over logs, and trek through a rocky trail, but it's so worth it because the lakes are gorgeous. It took us about 6 hours but that included resting at each of the lakes and getting lost- trail can be a bit un clear.
No snow June 2nd, but a bit of the trail had a small stream flowing down it and was a bit wet.

on Donner Peak Trail

1 month ago

Great trail off I-80. Some hard switchbacks at the beginning but it’s overall short to get to the peak and view of Donner Lake below. You can continue onto Mt. Judah but it was not worth it to me.

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.

2 months 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.

3 months 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.

5 months ago

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

6 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

8 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.

9 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.

9 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.

10 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.


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 !

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