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California, United States

Loch Leven Lakes, Tahoe National Forest

High alpine lakes aplenty in the Tahoe National Forest.

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Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 8.0 miles / 12.9 km
Duration: Full day
Family Friendly
Overview: Located directly of Interstate 80 this trail will have you hiking deep into the Tahoe National Forest in no time, in search of scenic high alpine Sierra Nevada lakes.

Because this trail needs to be tackled during the summer and fall months to avoid winter conditions this popular trail can get quite busy, but the hike still remains a worthwhile trip.

Elevation gain:
• 1,250ft (from 5,800 - 6,900ft)

• Best hiked between June and November.
• Snowshoeing is also possible on this route, but winter conditions can often be challenging even to experienced hikers and snowshoers.

Points of Interest


Hampshire Rocks Rd Trailhead

The trailhead is located between Interstate 80 exits 166 and 168 on Hampshire Rocks Road. Spaces for several cars are available next to a small restroom building.

Pick up the trail across the road from the parking lot and begin the steady upward climb, passing through patches of pine forest, negotiating large erratic boulders and scrabbling across exposed granite. Leading to a small footbridge your route continues its climb through dense evergreens and away from the remaining noise of the I-80.

Transcontinental Railroad

The transcontinental railroad line between Omaha and Sacramento was considered to be a modern engineering marvel of its time and revolutionized trade and migration to the West Coast.

Built between 1863 and 1869 the railroad is still in regular use today by both freight and passenger trains, so be sure to watch out for traffic before crossing the tracks.

Lower Loch Leven Lake

Two-and-a-half miles from the trailhead and 1,250ft later your legs will be thankful that you've reached the Lower Loch Leven Lake. No doubt they'll also be equally thankful that it's downhill and level hiking all the way to the remaining lakes.

Each of the lakes is individually worth the trip on its own, so if you choose the closest Lower Lake as your destination you'll find it a very rewarding 6 mile out-and-back hike. Of course, we'd always want to encourage you to check out other lakes which only adds an extra mile each way.

Middle Loch Leven Lake

Middle Loch Leven Lake is by far the largest of these bodies of water. The trail continues all the way around the Eastern side of the lake giving you plenty of opportunities to admire it on your way to the last of the three lakes.

High Loch Leven Lake

If you choose to venture on to High Loch Leven Lake you will be rewarded with even more serene and beautiful views. When you're done gazing at the glass reflected lakes, head back the way you came to the trailhead.
Pictures in this guide taken by: Trailspotting

Trailspotting content © Stuart Green 2010 including text, images, videos and route detail.
Just getting back into Hiking after many years and found this "moderate" and "Family Friendly " trail. Grabbed the Mrs and off we went. We must really be out of shape if this meets the previous explanations...most of the trail is big deal...but for much of the time we were climbing up rocks and large bolders...most of the trail is rather steep rock...maybe the Family Friendly referred to mountain goat families! Almost turned around at the summit but were encouraged by returning hikers to continue for another 10 minutes to the first lake...glad we did, as it was very nice. We got started a bit late, 2:45pm, so didn't want to spend a long time up the hill. All in all it was a fun hike and telling of how out of shape we are...(isn't round a shape!)
Visited on Aug 26, 2012

by ThomasJ2352 on Aug 28, 2012

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