Explore the most popular hiking 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.

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
4 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.

backpacking
17 days ago

Stopped at this overlook on my way to Warren’s lake! Great little spot to take in some beautiful views of Frog Lake and the surrounding areas. Sat on the rocks and ate some lunch. Went about 730am on Saturday. Only person on the trail. Mostly shaded by trees all the way up. Great work out.

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
22 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
24 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!

Really liked this hike. Easy slope to start and a tougher climb towards the end, but the views at the end are worth it. The trail links up with PCT and Summit lake trails too if you're looking for something a little longer. Only downside was having highway 80 right below you, it can be heard during most of the hike.

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

backpacking
24 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
28 days ago

Spectacular views, lots of campsites. Very rocky.

backpacking
28 days ago

I visited 8/19-8/21, 2018

Regarding the 4x4 recommendation: time from I-80 to trailhead was 20 minutes with our 4runner. By my estimation, a sedan could make most of the journey through the unpaved road until JUST before the parking lot (using caution and low speed, of course). There is room to park before the road worsens and its only a 1/4 mile from trailhead. We saw stock trucks and SUVS in the parking lot so special offroading vehicles aren't necessary.

Trail took us 3.5 hrs to reach north fork of the American River. Gnats surrounded us every step of shade we had, deet became necessary. Lower elevations have quite a bit of poison oak but it was easily avoided. The trail is difficult not just because of the steep decline but because the trail itself has many loose rocks. Almost twisted my ankle once or thrice. We camped just on the other side of the bridge there. I counted exactly 4 established camping spots in the vicinity of the bridge. We didn't see anyone out there at any point... Very secluded. LOTS of swimming holes that were fun to climb around and jump in.

We saw bear scat throughout the trail and on our way back we saw even more fresh stuff. No bear sightings, however, we did see a baby rattler when we first got to our spot and after that we were extremely cautious about our footing anywhere we went.

Trek out was intense but much more enjoyable than going down. I think our time out was 4.5 hrs since we took more breaks to catch our breath and eat lunch. I recommend getting out early so as to avoid the midday heat later since the last 3 miles is mostly unshaded traversing of granite (follow cairns).

For the record, we did not hike up to heath falls and we regretted not making a small day trip up since an old timer we passed on our way out spoke highly of it. Our round-trip mileage was probably around 14.5 miles between trailhead and river.

Would do again! Especially with a group to play with on the river!

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

Looking to get feedback before visiting...
Getting to the trailhead, it says above off-road vehicle needed to access. Can a truck handle this or do you need legit off roaming 4x4 vehicle?

Thanks!
N

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.

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