Loch Leven Trail

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Trail Type:

Counties Trail is in:

The Loch Leven begins at Placer County Road Pla-9140-2 and ends at High Loch Leven Lake. The trail is open for the following uses: Hiking

At a Glance

Restrictions: Difficulty Level:  Moderate Use level. Heavy


Trailhead Access: The trail begins one-eighth mile east of the Big Bend Fire Station on old U.S. 40 (Big Bend exit off I-80). A restroom is available at the trailhead. The trail begins across the road from the parking area.

Trail Length:

  • 1.1 miles to railroad tracks
  • 2.5 miles to 1st lake Salmon Lake trail
  • 2.8 miles to 2nd lake
  • 3 miles to Cherry Point trail
  • 3.6 miles to Upper Loch Leven

General Notes:

Topo Maps:

Cisco Grove/Soda Sprgs

Trail description: 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 open for hiking early June to November, weather permitting. The trail is not marked for winter use, and is difficult to find in winter.

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 erratic 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 see the markers for a buried telephone trunk line, and petroleum pipeline that they cross. Near the 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. 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.

At the south end of lower Loch Leven, a trail junction continues left to middle and high Lochs, or right to Salmon Lake.

Fishing is generally good, and camping is dispersed throughout the basin. Campfire permits are required for campfires, backpacking stoves, BBQs, and lanterns.


  • Trail Measurement: 13 Miles
  • Compass Latitude: 391742N
  • Compass Longitude: 1203041W
  • Numeric Latitude: 39.2949029
  • Numeric Longitude: -120.5113172
  • Elevation in Meters: 1959
  • Elevation in Feet: 6427

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References and More Info

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