Lets explore Loch Leven Lakes to celebrate the 4th of July
The basin contains a pleasant trio of three, granite encased lakes; yet pockets of large red firs provide comfortable camping spots. Especially with fall or spring clouds overhead, the setting is inspirationally dramatic although starkly dominated by glaciated granite and clumps of forest. Views of North Fork American River canyon and Snow Mountain easily make you forget you’re only a few miles from I-80. Salmon Lake lies near the western rim of the basin and easily accessed. Very popular, much of Loch Leven Trail has been worn by thousands of hikers until at times it looks more like a rocky rivulet than a trail.
Distance: 7.3 Miles (out and back)
Elevation Change: 1,070 feet (5,680 feet to 6,850 feet)
Difficulty: Moderate to Advanced
Trailhead is located 0.25 miles east of Big Bend on Old Hwy 40. From there it’s 3 miles to the Lower Lake. High Loch Leven Lake is 5 miles total distance from the trailhead. A restroom is available at the trailhead. The trail begins across the road from the parking area.
Lower to Middle Lake: 0.3-mile climb begins and ends at 6780’ to 6790’ elevations but the ridge in the middle is closer to a 100 feet rise with a rocky drop.
Middle to Upper Lake: 0.8-mile climb 6790’ to 6900’. One short stretch requires scrambling up granite.
The Loch Leven trail leaves the South Yuba river canyon, crossing the ridge above to reach the glacially formed Loch Leven lakes chain, small bowls in the granite. The trail is generally open for hiking from early June to November, weather permitting. The trail is not marked for winter use, and can be difficult to find under snow.
The trail works its way upward on a moderately steep grade to the southwest to the UPRR tracks, then trends southeasterly.
Granite outcroppings and glacial erratics are numerous along the first portion of the route, and the trail can be difficult to follow on the bare rock sections. As the trail ascends, it crosses minor hogbacks and depressions, generally trending upward. Prior to the railroad tracks, hikers cross a buried telephone trunk line, and petroleum pipeline. Hikers will see the markers for these features. Near the railroad tracks, a small bridge spans a creek that flows swift and cold in early season.
The railroad tracks are on the original 1860s route of the Central Pacific railroad, built by hand with
Chinese labor, and it remains a major freight and passenger route in and out of California.
After crossing the tracks, the trail becomes steeper, going from 6,000’ to 6,800’ in 1.25 miles. At the top of the ridge, the trail descends gradually into the Loch Leven lakes basin. The trail in the basin is primarily level, but follows the topography.
Please remember to bring:
- A positive and adventurous attitude
- Plenty of water, snacks, and food (we will eat lunch and linger at Upper Loch Leven Lake)
- Appropriate clothing and shoes
- Mosquito repellent
- Sunscreen and hat
- Bathing Suit (for a swim at Upper Loch Leven Lake)
For more information please contact Dale Price at (916)[masked] or by e-mail at [masked].