Three alpine lakes, superb views, and shoreline camping for soaking it all in … Loch Leven Lakes is pure Tahoe wilderness. This 7.2-mile out-and-back in Tahoe National Forest is great for a long day hike, or a weekend of adventure camping among this trio of crystal waters.
The Loch Leven Lakes Trail starts with a steady climb that skirts to the right of a granite ridge, passing pine forests and a small pond. Once around the ridgetop, you cross a small footbridge over a beautiful creek before continuing the climb. After 1.1 miles you’ll cross a set of train tracks still in use (be sure to check before crossing). Ascend another mile through pine forest. You will know you are close to the lakes when the path levels and you make a short descent to come upon the first of three lakes, a nice place to take a dip before heading to the next lake, just a quarter mile down the trail.
The second lake has lots of first-come, first-served campsites along the shoreline, all with amazing views of the clear water and surrounding hills. Getting to the lake early gives you first access to the shaded shoreline campsites, which are ideal during afternoon heat. Pitch your tent and take a hike up to the upper lake—where campsites are also available—just over half a mile up the trail. As the highest lake in the trio, you get the best views of the valley and surrounding area from here.
Campsites are first-come, first-served. Lock Leven Lakes Trailhead is located on Hampshire Rocks Rd., half a mile east of the Big Bend exit on I-80 (Exit 166). Bring water for day hikes and a water purifier for overnight excursions, as there is no potable water at the trailhead or along the trail. Bathrooms are available at the trailhead but not along the trail. A fire permit is required for backcountry camping. Dog-friendly!