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.

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!

loved this hike, steep but so worth it!

Amazing hike! Not easy but worth every step! Was a perfect day!

Beautiful, good workout, but it does end up being around 15.8 miles. The last 4 miles is a steep incline which isn’t the best if you’re fatigued from the first 11 or so miles.

hiking
10 days ago

Hiked with the kids... some rock scrambling which is just what they wanted! Great hike, well marked, good views.

Beautiful. Loved the variety of plants, trees, and wildflowers. Doing it again soon before the winter.

Went with some friends who are training for a Whitney Hike. We did this hike in reverse. Started at the Granite Chief trail and finished at the sugar Bowl. They needed the elevation gain. If you do it that way, your elevation change is double. The added bonus is the flatter exit back to the parking lot (we ended at the spot nearest the train tunnels)

Please be aware, Sugar Bowl academy is in the lower parking lot, in Sugar Bowl, not the upper lot directly across from the ski ranch. Also if you end early enough here is s snack shack, with frosty malted beverages, in the parking lot.

Solo hike, started around 7am. Saw a bear about a mile in. Saw my first hiker (a PCT hiker) at 3.5 miles. Dropped down to Squaw Valley on the Granite Chief trail. Took six hours. Great views. The trip down Granite Chief was the most difficult on my knees being downhill and steep. Highly recommend.

Had a great time hiking the trail to salmon lake with our kids (7 and 9). Definitely an easy trail that we could do again sometime with the grandparents too or as a first backpacking trip. We opted to go off trail and hike around the lake, totaling about 4 Miles on the GPS there, around, and back. We spent 5 hours total including lots of sitting, playing, wading and swimming. A perfect afternoon!

It’s easy to lose the trail for a little bit around the first big rock outcrop. Just look around and you’ll pick it right back up again, it’s a well travelled path.

Driving directions are not correct. After the point where the directions leave off drive another 1.5 miles forward, over a pretty big rut that will get your attention. Trail is obvious, wide and on the left. We made the trip easily but carefully in our minivan.

Spectacular view from top. Interesting “layered” granite rock formations. First trail section is steep and rocky.

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

backpacking
28 days 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
29 days 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!

It's Tinker Knob, not
ticker's Knob. Check the top map.

backpacking
30 days 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.

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
1 month ago

Spectacular views, lots of campsites. Very rocky.

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 :)

1 month 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.

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.

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

hiking
1 month ago

Lost the trail a bit on the way up, but was a pretty lake

backpacking
1 month ago

Did this hike mid August. We backpacked as a one nighter 3 adults and 1 five year old. We were hoping to cross more bodies of water or creeks. Still a beautiful hike. It was short and can be done as a day hike. Saw lots of old bear poop, but had no bear activity overnight. It only costed us $5 a night to park our car at the campground as an “extra vehicle.” Did not have to pay for a campsite.

Great hike to take in the meteor shower, some of the trail branches off, but the mobile signal is good.

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.

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)!

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.

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.

on Donner Peak Trail

hiking
1 month ago

Beautiful spot. Views get better and better as you ascend. I’m not in very good shape so the elevation was quite a challenge for me, but I made it! Lots of good rocks to use as rest stops and to enjoy the views along the way. Will definitely go back.

mountain biking
1 month 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.

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