Although I have been to the Loch Leven Lakes area before, I have never actually seen the lakes. When I was thinking where to head on a quick trip I decided to check these lakes out. The map said it is about 3.6 miles each way but I think it is closer to 4 to get to get to High Loch Leven Lake. These lakes are quite popular with both day-hikers and backpackers so I would recommend you do this trip either off season or during the week. I spent a Sunday night up there and had only one other couple at the lake. There was one other family at the Middle Loch Leven Lake but that was all of the campers I saw. I don't think many of the day hikers go all the way to High Loch Leven Lake.
You do not need a permit to camp but you do need a fire permit so get one at the ranger station at the Big Bend Visitor Center located just West of the trailhead. The Trailhead is located off the Big Bend exit from Interstate 80. The trail is directly across the road from the trailhead parking. Parking was packed so I had to park on the North side of the road west of the trailhead. I talked to the Ranger who said they will ticket you if you park on the south side of the road (It is posted no parking). map below. The trail is well marked through most of it. It does cross some granite but between ducks, foot prints and orange paint you shouldn't be able to lose your way. This picture is of a fern lined section of trail after you go up and over the first granite out cropping.
This bridge is right before the railroad tracks.
Do be careful when crossing the tracks as the train is moving faster than it looks. The ranger told me that someone was killed last year crossing these tracks in the winter. Because of the bend in the tracks right where you have to cross you could not notice the train until it is too late (especially in the winter as the snow absorbs the sound of the train). These tracks are heavily used by both Amtrak and freight trains
The views along the way were spectacular. I really lucked out on the partially cloudy conditions. This time of year you always have to watch out for fast moving thunderstorms, but I didn't really see any dark clouds. It was almost perfect conditions with the slight breeze. Without it and I think I would have been a little warm.
The wildflowers were luckily still blooming. I used my macro setting a little too much I think. I actually took 103 pictures on this trip! I think that is a record for a one-nighter.
This is one of the Loch Leven Lakes. I can't remember if this is the Lower or Middle. I think it is the Lower one. There were quite a few people around this lake.
I made it to camp in about 2 hours. I was really taking my time enjoying the scenery and taking pictures. There are numerous campsites on the south side of High Loch Leven Lake. I picked about the second one in (a little way in from the lake). I went and did a little swimming and this is honestly the warmest lake I have ever swam in. I am not sure why. It is a little shallow but otherwise a perfect lake. I floated around on my air mattress for a while. In the summer I have been using one of those cheap floating air mattresses. If you are careful with them they seem to last. Although my camp was a little close to the trail, I had the lake basically to myself until almost dinner (when a couple hiked in and camped near the east corner of the lake).
The wind really died down that night and because of that I was able to take this picture. That is not dust in the upper left but a star. I tried to capture the small moon that night but I wasn't able to capture it without a tripod. Next time!
Another shot on the way in. It is amazing that there are so many great views on such a short hike. I hiked out the next morning and was able to take some more wildflower shots and some of the lakes when they were very still. This is a great hike into an awesome lake. If you are looking for a quick getaway I would highly recommend this one. Scroll down for some more shots and also to the map at the end.
High Loch Leven Lake in the morning. It was so very still. Capturing shots like these is what makes photography fun.
The blue line is the route I took (more or less). My GPS unit told me exactly 4 miles from camp to car. There are a couple little lakes near High Loch Leven that are not on the map. I didn't take the time to hike to them though.