Loch Leven Trail is a moderate to difficult hike with over 1,000-foot elevation change over 3.5-mile trail to the first lake in the Loch Leven chain of lakes in the Tahoe National forest.
To get there take Interstate 80 east to the Rainbow Bend exit. Take a left onto Hampshire Rocks Road. Drive up just past the Tahoe National Forest fire station to the trailhead parking lot. An information board and restrooms are located here. The sign marking the trailhead is directly across the street.
The trail begins with granite boulders. Under foot are rocks, roots, ruts, sand, decomposed granite and decomposed tree. Around you are boulders, colossal pine trees, views of surrounding mountain peaks, and the lakes.
One very prominent peak is Red Mountain A.K.A. Signal Peak. The first landmark is the railroad tracks just over a mile in. Other highlights of the trail include the wildflowers in spring. You skirt a pond that is more of a bog by September. A wooden bridge leads into a cool shaded area briefly before the climb continues. Level areas give you a chance to catch your breath before forging on. A few of the volunteer trails can lead you astray. Stay on track.
Loch Leven Trail is a moderately trafficked trail and dogs are welcome. Take plenty of water. Plenty of sun exposure on this trail so you may want a hat, glasses and sunblock. Once you reach the lake, find your spot to settle in and get your shoes off, a snack will be in order.
If you have time and the inclination, more lakes await you as well as Cherry Peak trail is three miles out from the trailhead.
Another great thing about Loch Leven Trail is that the return trip to the trail head is mostly downhill.
Mary West is the author of the book “Day Hiker a Trail Guide.” A collection of columns from the Auburn Journal where she shares her longtime love of the outdoors, and favorite day hikes in Placer, Nevada, El Dorado and Yuba counties. West is the recipient of a Outdoor Writers of California Craft Award in 2018. Learn more about local trails by following Mary on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.