Explore the most popular forest 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.

backpacking
2 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.

backpacking
4 days ago

This was a superb trail, and the falls are unbelievable! We camped at heath falls overlook and hiked down to the falls for day trips, very sweet situation. Went in mid July, lots of water, great trails well defined by way of cascades lake trailhead. We met a few homies who came in from the south end, sounded pretty steep, and it seems their trail put them out right near the main falls south of the bridge.

backpacking
5 days ago

Worth the views and almost a hidden gem! We backpacked this in June and had the trail and campsite (next to waterfall) to ourselves. Perfect for a 1-2 night trip and great for beginner backpackers.

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.

hiking
9 days ago

Great trek today. Up and back in four hours. Stopped several times to talk with other hikers.

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!

hiking
15 days ago

Great hike into the Donner/Castle Peak high country. Beautiful open meadows and views of Granite Chief to the south.Once up at the saddle between the overlook and Castle Peak you are presented with unspoiled Sierra back country. The view of Frog lake is a nice resting area. On my way back down I noticed a single track moving toward Castle peak and decided to try and link up to the traditional Castle Peak trail via this route. The track was hard to follow once in the forest but did take to the base of the peak. Could not find a solid route to Castle Peak Proper but it added a few more miles and more beautiful views. A+

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.

Awesome completely picturesque hike — tons of scenery and views. I love the start from campground on south side of 80. Frog lake overlook is stunning! (Trail signs don’t say Frog Lake — they say summit and warren). Only ding is noise from 80 as a distant backdrop — but still a solid 5-Star review.

I linked up with Castle Peak. As others have said, the trail across the ridge is not easy to follow starting about halfway (no big deal because there’s the ridge-line and the terrain is easy) — but then it disappears at the big rocky step up to the plateau on which the 3 towers sit. That part is absolutely sketchy and dangerous due to scrabbly rock on steep slopes — and no discernible trail. Worse, several bits look “trail-like” that lead to exposed moves which lead to dead ends — and backtracking those same exposed moves.

I eventually cleared the first bit (30 mins hunting around, contemplating risky moves, considering going back), then climbed down and under the second set of cliffs and then regained the path by scrambling up through a broad chute. Either go with someone who knows this section or be prepared for a challenge.

COULD ONE OF THE TRAIL ASSOCIATIONS PLEASE MARK THIS SECTION BEFORE SOMEONE GETS HURT?

After that — smooth sailing. Great little climbs up the towers (the east tower is climbable on east face (exposed class 4 for 50 feet). Middle tower easily climbed from the center as you face from the south. Great views, exhilarating drops on the back side.

Hike down is OK - good views but sun-exposed and loose footling at places near the top.

backpacking
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.

+1 beautiful great alpine hike. Wildflowers coming out now, still some patches of snow. Trail is indistinct after crossing creek a bit before coming out of the tree line, just head about 15 degrees to the right of the creek at that point and you’ll be on track.

Tried to link up with the trails coming up to Castle Peak from the other side, which looks straightforward on the AllTrails map. However there is no trail that I could find across the peak, and I looked for 45 minutes. Castle peak is a nearly vertical 100’+ rock face with unstable steep scree fields beneath. It appears possible to scramble to where the trail ‘should be’ on the map but you can quickly find yourself in a risky situation if you attempt.

That said the hike over to Castle Peak is great and highly recommended, adds about 3 miles out & back. There isn’t really a trail once you get into the wooded portion of the ridgeline but just follow the couloir around, it is straightforward wayfinding and you’ll find other’s boot prints.

hiking
1 month ago

Moderately difficult. Beautiful hike. And the top is incredible.

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.

backpacking
1 month ago

This is a well maintained hard trail with a great reward when you reach the North Fork of the American River. We did the round trip 14 mile hike in about 9 hours which includes an hour of resting by the falls and extra time to take in the views and lots of photos. You have Devils Peak on your right and a huge scene of the valley on the left while hiking on granite for the first 1/3rd and then switchbacking in and out along the creek and rock cliffs for the remainder 2/3rds. 2 litres of water in and 2 out, but may need more for mid-summer heat. There were mosquitoes in the more green meadows and some poison oak at the lower elevations.

The hike out is a constant climb with some flat areas for relief. Once you reach Long Lake you know the journey is coming to an end.

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.

As others have talked about, the wind can be quite gusty on top. Was thinking about linking to the Castle Peak trail, but too much snow between the for that. Still a fair amount of snow up top. The drains under the freeway are under a bit of water as of 6/4/18

hiking
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.

backpacking
1 month ago

Great trail! Perfect for a three day weekend so that you can spend one full day down in the valley or up the other side of Palisade Creek. The waterfalls are huge and super dramatic - very impressive.

Be aware, there is a long drive to get to the trailhead and it takes about 30 min. If you’re going early in the season there will be pools of water or even snow.

We were there on Memorial Day weekend and there was no snow on the trail and very little mosquitos even though there is a lot of water. Very easy hiking.

The first two thirds down is very easy slope downwards, the last mile or two down the valley is pretty steep with a backpack.

One you’re at the bottom, there are lots of good camping spots. You can then hike up the other side. We went about 1/3 up but then stopped because you had to rappel down and I didn’t want to keep going.

Lots of water, no worries on having tons of access points (at least early in the season).

Tons of great fire pits and campsites. Beautiful views of the mountains and massive waterfalls.

There is poison oak at the bottom 1/4. We saw a snake and fresh bear poop.

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
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.

backpacking
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.

hiking
5 months ago

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

hiking
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.

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