“A scenic run that explores the boundaries of three granite surrounded lakes.
— Eric Ashley
Lake · Swimming · Views
The Loch Leven Trail is a popular out-and-back trail that treats runners to scenic views through the glacially formed region. The first portions of the trail are favored by anglers and swimmers, but scenery and solitude reward those who travel to the final lake. The start and end of this moderately difficult trail offer the greatest challenge with noticeable elevation change and loose rocky surfaces.
Open for running early June to November, weather permitting.
Campfire permits are required for campfires, backpacking stoves, BBQs, and lanterns.
Need to Know
Fishing is generally good in the area, and camping is dispersed throughout the basin.
Plenty of loose rocks and a steep climb make this a beautiful trail, but not an optimum run.
Leaving from the South Yuba river canyon, the Loch Leven Trail quickly heads across the ridge above, en route to the Loch Leven lakes chain (small bowls formed in the granite). The trailside is dotted with glacial erratics (massive boulders left in place when the glaciers retreated) and outcroppings during this first part of the trail. Various bare rock sections can make it difficult to follow the route and loose rock can make for challenging footing. The trail continues upward along a moderately steep grade, before descending briefly to the Union Pacific Railroad tracks.
Past the tracks, the grade steepens noticeably as the trail gains 800 feet in a little over a mile. Once at the top of the ridge, the run continues gradually with a some rolling elevation as the trail follows the contours of the Loch Leven lakes basin.
At the south end of lower Loch Leven, a trail junction continues either left to middle and high Lochs, or right to Salmon Lake. Further along at the south end of middle Loch Leven the Cherry Point Trail intersects the route. As you continue to each successive lake the surroundings should be less busy, affording solitude and peaceful views.
History & Background
The railroad tracks crossed during the first at 1.25 miles are on the original 1860s route of the Central Pacific railroad while was built by hand with Chinese labor. It still remains a major passenger and freight route to and from California.