The Loch Leven Lakes Trail at Tahoe National Forest near Emigrant Gap, California is a moderate 8-mile out-and-back hike that features beautiful vistas of the popular alpine lakes, the Loch Leven Lakes.
The trail begins along Hampshire Rocks Road and runs for a while before crossing a tributary to the South Yuba River and eventually crosses railroad tracks. After about 1.3-miles into the hike, the trail begins ascending a steeper grade. On the way up are plenty of switchbacks heading up about 1,100 feet toward Big Bend Overlook. Big Bend Overlook is a great place to stop and rest before hiking onward to the first lake.
The first lake can be reached after approximately 2.5-miles. After visiting the first lake, hikers will find reaching the last two lakes is fairly easy if following the trail. Each lake has plenty of spots to sit down for a picnic or rest before the hike out. Campers will also find plenty of campsites along this trail as well.
Length and Difficulty
The entire hike is about 8 mile out-and-back if you plan on visiting each of the three Loch Leven Lakes. Hikers can choose to shorten this hike if they only wish to hike to the first lake, which is about a 5-mile out-and-back hike instead. It is slightly shorter if your destination is the first of the three lakes. Either way, if you plan to hike to the first lake, you'll end up hiking most of the elevation gain from the whole trek, so adding the extra mileage on is mostly flat grade hiking.
Backpacking and Camping
These lakes are very popular on the weekends, but offer plenty of camping options.
Dogs are allowed if leashed and their waste must be carried out by the hiker.
For more details check out the Loch Leven Lakes Norcalhiker blog post.
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