Mary West: Exploring Loch Leven Trail |

Mary West: Exploring Loch Leven Trail

Loch Leven Trail is a moderate to difficult hike with more than a one thousand-foot elevation change over a 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 trees. Wear sturdy shoes and take those trekking poles they may come in handy.

Around you are boulders, colossal pine trees, views of surrounding mountain peaks, and the lakes. One very prominent peak is Red Mountain, also known as Signal Peak. The first landmark are the railroad tracks. Other highlights of the trail include the yellow aspen in fall. You skirt a pond that is more of a bog by September until the rains return. 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.

Other highlights of the trail include the yellow aspen in fall. You skirt a pond that is more of a bog by September until the rains return.

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 three miles out from the trailhead. The great thing about Loch Leven Trail is that the return trip to the trail head is mostly downhill.

Mary West is author of the book series Day Hiker – Gold Country Trail Guides (Available on Amazon). The books are a collection of the Day Hiker columns where West shares her longtime love of the outdoors, and favorite hikes in Northern California’s Gold Country and beyond. West was the recipient of the 2018 and 2019 CRAFT Award for Best Outdoor Column by the Outdoor Writers of California. You can follow West on Facebook and Instagram.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User