Backpacking to Loch Leven Lakes

Soda Springs, California

4.4/5
based on 12 reviews

Details

Distance

8 miles

Route Type

Out-and-Back

Description

Added by Alex Shaw

Relatively easy access to beautiful scenery, low traffic. 5-8 mile hike depending on which lake you want to go to (Lower, Middle, High). Cliff jumping at the upper lake, catch and release fishing, pet friendly. No permit required however a permit is required for campfires.

To get to this trail go west on I-80 from Truckee, Ca. After 17 miles take the Big Bend exit and turn left at the stop sign at the bottom of the exit ramp. Follow that road 3/4 of a mile and the small parking lot will be on your right hand side. There is a bathroom there and the trailhead is directly across the street.

The trail is easy to follow for the first half mile until you get to some large slabs of granite. As you continue up the trail look for stacked rocks, these will give you a an easy route as you continue up the mountain. The trail then starts to switch back eventually leading to a small bridge. After crossing the bridge you will proceed roughly 1/4 of a mile and end up at a set of railroad tracks, the trail continues on the other side of the tracks straight across from where you came out.

Once on the other side the trail will continue up some switchbacks through the forest for another mile and is moderately steep until eventually defending into the first lake. If you continue from the lower lake another mile on the trail you will end up at the upper lake where there are rocks to jump off and more places to camp. The distance to the lower lake is 2.5 miles one way. If you intend to stay the night be sure to pack for any variables. I recommend this to anyone who wants a relatively easy trail to get into backpacking.

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Features

Photography
Backpacking
Hiking
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Forest
Lake
Scenic
Cliff Jumping

Reviews

I'm in no way an experienced backpacker, but I am relatively fit and I found this trail to be miserable at best. The trail at times disappears completely - we only found our way back to it due to Gaia GPS - and to call it a "trail" is in all honestly laughable. It's miles of walking on uneven rocks which makes the climb infinitely more difficult. Those without backpacking packs had an easier time than we did, and those with hiking poles had an easier time still. The dispersed camping at the lakes is beautiful, with spots carved out with logs and even stone fire pits, which I was not expecting. All in all, this is a wonderful spot to go to, but people should be adequately prepared for the terrain. On our way back we passed many people wearing sandals and cautioned them about the rocks coming up ahead. If you are comfortable on mountain surfaces, you'll probably be fine, but I was expecting something a little easier to traverse. Oh, there's an awful, awful amount of mosquitos.

We hiked this round trip in one day in the fall and only ran into a few other people. It’s an intermediate and more lengthy climb to the first lake, but quick to the second two. I loved the diversity of the landscape as we changed elevations. The trail is very easy to follow except when crossing some huge rocks that aren’t very clearly marked. We only had to look around for a few minutes until we found the trail again. We got to the top fairly quickly and were able to spend time enjoying the beauty while the dogs swam and ran around. We’re going to hike it again in the springtime to see it from a different perspective.

Hiked up to loch Leven mid July and camped overnight. We had a wonderful time. The hike it’s self is a good challenge and is pretty much a climb from the start! There is a small stream about halfway through that crosses is the trail with lovely clear water that’s safe to drink. Very rewarding when you get to the top and jump in the lake to cool off. We set off pretty late so we ended up camping at the first lake but had we known the second lake was so close we would of just pressed on and camped there. The second lake is far more scenic and there are plenty of nice camping spots near the water. The lake itself is perfect for swimming, the water is warm and there’s lots of islands to swim out to and jump off. We had the lake all to ourselves! Would definitely recommend and hope to camp there again in the future. Also the stars at this elevation are magical!

Heard a lot of good things about this hike prior to going. Now I know why. Challenging 4 mike walk in with a 1,500 elevation climb. In most areas, trail is almost all loose gravel and bedrock making ankle injuries a concern. More traffic on the trail than expected for mid-week, but only one other group of campers for the two nights we were there. Hiked to both nearby lakes on the second day. Scenery is incredible. If you’re looking for a hike where challenge is equaled by the rewards of beauty and solitude, this should be high on your list.

We figured out that there is an easier route to Loch Leven. We have young kids and a dog and had heard that the Loch Leven trail is a hard one. We parked at the Salmon Lake trail head and hiked an easy mile or so to Salmon Lake. Found a beautiful campsite there and left our gear there and took day packs to Lower Loch Leven (an easy 1 mile) and went as far as the middle lake for great swimming. We were happy that we made this decision because Loch Leven was crowded (Labor Day weekend) and we were the only ones at Salmon. Still beautiful, maybe not as enticing to swim at, but gorgeous scenery and solitude was worth it. An easier hike and you can still access Loch Leven. We saw others with dogs that had come via the normal trail head at Loch Leven and some of them had bleeding paws.

This was a great weekend hike. I went mid June via salmon lake. A large portion of the trail was covered in snow and difficult to find but it was worth it.

The hike to these lakes was fabulous. We camped at the middle lake and campgrounds were plentiful and the lake was very warm. We saw a rattlesnake so beware. Overall, however, this was a fabulous trip.

I did this with my Boy Scout troop and it was just amazing. The lake was little cold but it was fun swim in.

I have taken this trip twice in the last two years. Took scouts on two of the trips. Great break in hike for new backpackers. For an easier hike, enter via Salmon lake.

I did this with a buddy of mine as a day hike towards the end of August and it was a really great, not-too-long-but-long-enough hike. The first part is pretty steep from where you park until you hit the train tracks, but after that it's not so bad and the lakes themselves are really beautiful. We hiked all the way up to the High Lake and back, but we stopped to swim in the Middle lake which is a great spot with some islands out in the middle of it. Make sure you double-check for trains though, we caught it at just the right time and trains passed us going in both directions before we were able to cross the tracks and keep hiking on the way up.

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