Trail

Loch Leven Lakes, Tahoe National Forest, California

San Francisco, CA
Length: 2.00 mi.
Type: Out & Back

About This Trail

[Total: 0    Average: 0/5]

ACTIVITIES: Hiking, water play

LENGTH OF HIKE: 2 miles

OUT AND BACK OR LOOP: Out and back

DIFFICULTY OF TERRAIN: Rough trail in places

ELEVATION GAIN: 216 feet

PARKING FEE/PASS: No

TOILETS: No

CHANGING TABLE: No

NURSING BENCHES: No

DOGS ALLOWED: Yes

BIKES/HORSES/MOTORS ON TRAIL: No

CELL RECEPTION: No

DRINKING WATER AVAILABLE: No (plenty available for purification, though)

POTENTIAL CHILD OR BABY HAZARDS: This is a summer-only hike. High
elevation means easy sunburns. Bears, snakes, and standard Sierra wildlife.

GEAR SUGGESTIONS: Hiking poles, life jackets if swimming

With this adventure, we offer up two trailhead options to get you out there. Both are not far from San Francisco with a big reward for the trek out. The first trailhead to Loch Leven Lake is easy to get to as it’s right off of the I-80 freeway; however, there’s a steep climb in the beginning and you can hear freeway noise on the hike.

The second hike requires at least a 30-minute drive in on a dirt road with potholes. As long as you are comfortable with this option, we would recommend this route because it’s an easier trail for kids. The hike is just 2.5 miles and leads to a beautiful
set of lakes (middle and high Loch and Salmon Lake). The hike starts out in a meadow that is wildflower filled in June and early July. Then it travels through an old-growth fir forest and crosses over some granite outcroppings.

This is a popular hike for families from Sacramento and San Francisco, but even if the trailhead looks crowded, there is a lot of room to spread out. The lakes offer a good base for exploring, so consider camping out. The trail is only open for use from June through November because of snow blocking access in the winter.

Summer is the best time to come anyway so you can enjoy the high mountain lakes. At 6,800 feet, these can be chilly for much of the year; but in the summer, they are warm enough for swimming. They also have small islands that are fun to swim out to, so bring a life jacket for your little one. There are also some great rocks to jump off of, and the water is clean and clear. Dogs are welcome, so expect that. For wildlife, there is the possibility of bears, but these sightings are rare with so many people around. If you camp out, just like most places, don’t leave food out
overnight. There are a lot of birds and frogs in the area. Fishing is generally good, and camping is dispersed throughout the basin. Campfire permits are required for fires, but backpacking stoves, BBQs, and lanterns are okay.

WHY IT’S A FAVORITE
“This is a relatively short hike to a beautiful set of lakes with the harder trailhead being only a couple minutes off a main highway. Even though the trailheads may look crowded, there is a lot of room to spread out and it doesn’t feel like there are
a lot of people around. The lakes offer a good base for exploring.” —RYAN IDRYO

INSIDER’S TIP
If camping, consider setting up at Salmon Lake for fewer crowds. Don’t be afraid to take the dirt road and get the mellower hike in. Even though it may seem like more of a haul, it’s worth it! These back roads can be a little confusing, so make sure to
really check your GPS and look at a topo map with really check your GPS and look at a topo map with dirt roads before you head out.

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Trail Features

Seasons Fall and Summer
Surface type Dirt
Elevation gain 216 ft.
Stroller friendly No
ADA accessible No
Water fountains No
Bathrooms No
Cell reception None
Pet friendly Yes
Nearby convenience store No
Camping Nearby No
Emergency support
within 5 miles
No

Trail highlights

Trail Contributor

[Total: 0    Average: 0/5]

Hike it Baby Trail Guide is managed by the Family Trail Guide team. If a trail has been “abandoned” by the initial owner, it gets adopted by the team. Also, if there are no trails in the area, the Family Trail Guide team researches trails that are family friendly in the area to insure that hikes cover all areas where Hike it Baby hikes.