Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sporty Sunday: Hiking Loch Leven Lakes (via Salmon Lake)

Loch Leven Lakes are a popular destination for hikers and dogs. But it seems that few people know the “secret” way to the lakes. Most hike up 1,000 vertical feet of switchbacks from I-80. The back way, described in Top Trails Sacramento, starts from a dirt road at Salmon Lake trailhead, has very little elevation gain, and features a fourth lake (in addition to the three Loch Leven lakes).

Although the high point of the hike (High Loch Leven Lake) is only 250 feet above the start, there are enough ups and downs in the 2.5 miles to give one a good aerobic workout. The four lakes, Salmon Lake (full of catfish, not salmon), Lower Loch Leven Lake, Middle Loch Leven Lake, and Upper Loch Leven Lake, offer plenty of opportunities to cool hot hikers and dogs. The views, while not outstanding, are a nice mix of forest, granite, lakes (including many small lakes besides the big four), and distant peaks.

The downsides of this trail: heavy use, lots of dogs (only a negative if you don’t like dogs!), and the long and confusing drive on dirt roads to the Salmon Lake trailhead. For more of a wilderness experience, I recommend hiking this trail off season or on a weekday. Top Trails Sacramento describes the route to the Salmon Lake trailhead, but there are some misprints and missing commas that make it easy to miss the trailhead. I’ve noted the corrections below.

Loch Leven Lakes via Salmon Lake is an easily hiked alpine experience and a great day trip or overnight. In fact, I’m considering making this Jasper’s first overnight backpacking trip later in the season!

Source: Evans, Stephen L. "Salmon Lake Trail to Loch Leven Lakes" Top Trails Sacramento. 4th ed. Birmingham: Wilderness, 2012. Print.

Length: 5 miles.

Water: Plenty of water in the four lakes! But the shallower ponds and the smaller seasonal streams are dry.

Use: Heavy! As noted, this trail is popular with dog owners. We only encountered well-behaved pooches, but I recommend avoiding this trail if dogs make you uneasy.

Differences from published description: From Yuba Gap Road, turn right on Lake Valley Road, not Long Valley Road. The next turn is in 1.1 miles (book says 1.3 miles). Once on Road 38, drive exactly 2.0 miles to the trailhead, just a bit past Huysink Lake. The text in the book is missing commas, so it mistakenly reads that one drives 2.0 miles past Huysink Lake to the trailhead. If you do that (like I did the first time), you’ll have gone much too far (and the road becomes inappropriate for highway vehicles)!

Jasper’s rating: 4 paws out of 5.

Sporty Sunday is a recurring feature in which I share my fitness routine and offer and solicit advice. While this content might seem a little out of place in an outfit diary, a healthy, strong body is the foundation of my wardrobe. I hope to inspire my readers to be fit as well as stylish!


Londyn said...

These photos should be in a magazine!! So beautiful :)

Emma said...

Wow, I'd never heard of these beautiful lakes before, but I do live near Loch Leven here in Scotland!

Kasmira said...

I wonder what the relationship between the two Lochs is!