Trail Tour: Loch Leven Lake Trail

Trail Tour Image

It’s Trail Tour Tuesday and I’m super excited to share my solo adventure to Loch Leven Lakes from earlier this summer. Located in the Tahoe National Forest, this challenging trail rewards you with amazing views along the way to three high alpine lakes. The entire experience was fucking epic. This was my first solo hike, downgraded from a solo backpacking trip (more on that in a later post, promise).


Bzzzzzzzz Bzzzzzzzz Bzzzzzzzz – 4:30 am alarm. I eagerly jumped out of bed and threw on my pre-planned outfit – wanting to hit the road by 5:00 am sharp. Loch Leven Lakes is about 1 ½ hours from Sacramento. I was chasing the sunrise.

I packed my bag the night before in nervous excitement. I set out my outfit, prepared lunch and snacks, filled my 2-liter water bladder and an extra insulated water bottle wrapped with duct tape, just in case. I emptied my bag and double checked I had everything I needed – necessities, extra clothes, camera. I quadruple checked I had downloaded the AllTrails map on my phone. I felt prepared and got my anxiety in check.

When I arrived around 6:30 am, I was the third car in the lot. I paid my $5 to the Iron Ranger, used the facilities, and put on my day pack. I felt like a little kid standing in line to ride my first roller coaster – anxious and exhilarated. The sun had just risen as I crossed the street and approached the trailhead in the softest light. I was ready to go.

I’m sort of obsessed with the solitude of the morning: the cool air, trail all to yourself, crystal clear focus, and parking is always a breeze. I hope these photos inspire you to put Loch Leven Lakes on your list to hike or backpack.

Trailhead Sign
The trail sign marking important stops along the way.

The trail starts right behind this sign. The first section is all about that granite. Making my way over giant slabs of the stuff was so fun, but staying on the trail was difficult… I found myself getting frustrated after just beginning. The anxious thoughts came in like a flood. “What am I doing?”, I thought to myself. “If I get lost at the beginning, what’s the point? I’m obviously not cut out for this. I should just turn back now and go home.” Then, in a moment of clarity, it hit me:

“You have everything you need.” 

After repeating this to myself while taking a few conscious deep breaths, I instantly calmed down. I pulled out my phone, opened my trail map and found my bearings. I got lost a few more times, but made my way back to the trail eventually. Once I made it off the granite section and into the forest, my confidence had returned.

Fern Trail
After trekking over giant granite slabs, the trail takes you through the forest. Much of this section is lined with gorgeous ferns.

Little Red flower
Gorgeous little flower

little purple flower
The colors of this little flower had me mesmerized.

The wildflowers here were incredible. While making my way up the mountain from the forest, these little beauties were everywhere begging for their chance to shine. My attention shifted after noticing the clearing ahead.

Trail View
The first of many insanely gorgeous vista points from the trail.

Train Tracks
These train tracks were a welcome sight and meant I was going the right way.

Stone Lined Trail
After crossing the tracks, stone lined the trail and the terrain became rockier.

Trail View 2
No big deal, just another breathtaking view from the trail.

Shortly after taking in this view and scrambling over a small section of rocks, I had made it to the first lake, eloquently named: Lower Loch Leven. It was cold and still early in the morning. The lake was smooth as glass.

Lower Loch Leven
The first lake: Lower Loch Leven. The trail almost takes you into that lake, if you aren’t careful.

Second Sign
Guide the way little sign, guide the way. Just 1/4 mile further to the second lake.

Middle Lake
Behold, Middle Loch Leven Lake. The largest of the three and most beautiful, in my opinion.

Middle Lake Rocks
Middle Lake rocks(!), both an exclamation and a fact. This is where I ate lunch and soaked up all the beauty around me.

Your best bet for camping is at the Middle Lake. There are several spots to choose from, a few right on the lake. Please note that fires are NOT permitted here. Help keep these wild places pristine by practicing “leave no trace”.

View near third lake
Somewhere on my way up toward the third lake, High Loch Leven, I turned around and stood in awe.

High Loch Leven Lake
The sign reads: High Loch Leven Lake. Elevation 6920. The lake is just beyond this sign and a mile past Lower Loch Leven.

High Loch Leven 2
That fresh mountain air, crisp breeze, and this view… how could you be mad?

In total, I hiked about 8 miles that cool morning in July. I felt accomplished…once I made my way off that damn granite. I didn’t succumb to those negative thoughts in the beginning that told me I couldn’t do it. I pushed through the fear of uncertainty. I trusted myself. I felt invincible as I made my way back to my car – sweaty and happy. While it’s normal to feel doubt and fear – not letting those emotions take over and learning to silence that negative voice can be a real challenge. The trail taught me that many routes take you to the same place, even if you lose your way. Mind over matter.

Lake Selfie
First solo hike in the books! Whoo hoo!

You wanna check it out for yourself? Check out AllTrails Loch Leven Lakes Trail for more info. Let me know in the comments what you think! What are your thoughts on solo hiking? Have you been to this trail before? We wanna hear from you!

Happy adventures!

Holly

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