High Loch Leven Lake


Difficulty 3 Intermediate
Length 7.8 miles round trip
6100 feet
+1150, -1150 round trip
Navigation Road, marked trail and map
Time Full day
Season January through early April
Snowmobiles Low
USGS Topo 7.5' series, Soda Springs
Start Intersection of Troy Road and Old Highway 40. Exit Interstate 80 at Kingvale, turn west (left) onto Old Highway 40 (located on north side of the interstate), drive 0.5 mile to Donner Trail School, continue 0.1 mile to Troy Road, turn left onto Troy Road, and park. The tour begins on the south side of the interstate which is accessible by an underpass.


The High Loch Leven Lake Trail climbs from near Interstate 80 at Kingvale and then crosses a high plateau before reaching its terminus overlooking beautiful High Loch Leven Lake. In summer the lake is a popular destination for hikers, but winter's snow greatly reduces the number of visitors though the beauty is just as great.

The toll you pay for enjoying lunch overlooking the lake is a considerable climb over the first half of the tour, but the second half rolls, sometimes through open terrain and sometimes through forested terrain of the plateau.

The tour to High Loch Leven Lake can be combined with the Fisher Lake Overlook tour. The openness along both tours make them a poor choice in foul weather. But pick a clear, crisp day and you will enjoy not only the touring, but also the grand views to the south.

Many of the old roads that the marked trail follows have been taken over by saplings. They have reached a size that makes travel difficult without considerable snow. For that reason the stated season for the tour begins in January, but the best time to visit this area is springtime.

The High Loch Leven Lake Trail was established in 1991 by volunteers of the Nordic Voice, predecessor of Snowlands Network. Today its condition is monitored by and minor maintenance performed by the local cabin owner who spearheaded its creation.

Mileage Log
Numbers in parentheses
correspond to mileage points on map

Miles: 0.0 - 0.1
Elevation change: +50 feet

From the trailhead (1) ski southwest on the snow-covered road for 0.1 mile until you reach a road junction (2). This junction may be difficult to see if the railroad has plowed this first section; look carefully above the berm for a road heading south (left). Do not be discouraged if this first section is in poor condition; the snow-players do not venture far.

Miles: 0.1 - 0.7
Elevation change: +250 feet

Turn south (left) and follow the road for 0.6 mile until you reach the railroad tracks (3). Unless you are looking hard, you will not notice that you pass one road on your right in this section.

Take off your skis and cross the railroad tracks. Be aware that in heavy snow years the banks on both sides of the tracks can be difficult to negotiate. You may find a shovel useful.

It goes without saying that you should exercise extreme caution when crossing the railroad tracks — use both your eyes and ears.

After crossing the tracks, locate the extension of the road on which you have been skiing. It is marked with a sign indicating the start of the High Loch Leven Lake Trail.

Miles: 0.7 - 0.9
Elevation change: +100 feet

Ski southwest, at first on either the marked trail or the re-aligned road and then on their combination, for a total of 0.2 mile until you reach an obscure road junction (4). The junction is located approximately 100 feet before the sign indicating that you should turn right.

A great deal of change has occurred near the road junction since the trail was first marked in 1991. The trail sign marks where the trail used to turn onto Royal Gorge's Rainbow Interconnect Trail. They no longer groom that trail and it is now over-grown so it is preferable to turn at the actual road junction. However, that junction is partially over-grown and care is necessary to locate it.

In the "good-old days" you would be signaled that you had past the road junction when you encountered one of Royal Gorge Cross Country Ski Resort's warming huts. It no longer exists.

Miles: 0.9 - 1.2
Elevation change: +150 feet

Turn southwest (right) onto the lesser road and climb for 0.3 mile until you reach a flat area (5) where the marked backcountry ski trail and the defunct Rainbow Interconnect Trail split. The defunct trail veers to the northwest (right) and the High Loch Leven Lake Trail veers to the southwest (left).

Miles: 1.2 - 1.9
Elevation change:
+250 feet

Leave the road and follow the marked trail southwest and then south for a total of 0.7 mile until you reach more open terrain (9). Waypoints 6, 7 and 8 in this section are provided as additional help in following the marked trail if you are using a GPS. Likewise, extra waypoints are provided in other sections to follow.

Miles: 1.9 - 2.2
Elevation change: +50 feet

Ski south and then west across open terrain keeping the trees to your right for a total of 0.3 mile until you reach a large ski trail marker (11) located on one of the few trees in this area. In this section you must exercise patience in locating each successive trail marker. They are few and far between.

Miles: 2.2 - 2.7
Elevation change: +100 feet

Ski southwest for 0.5 mile until intersect a road (13) to the west of a horseshoe-shaped pond. The marked trail to High Loch Leven Lake follows the road to the west (right). The tour to Fisher Lake Overlook leaves the marked trail and road, and continues south.

Miles: 2.7 - 3.2
Elevation change:

Turn west (right) onto the road and continue on the marked trail for 0.5 mile until you reach a marked right turn in the road and trail (14). Carefully follow the trail markers because there is one spot where it is easy to veer right off the road and trail.

Miles: 3.2 - 3.3
Elevation change:
-50 feet

Turn north (right) and continue on the road and marked trail for 0.1 mile until you reach a flat, open area (15). Beyond here the road continues north (straight), but an arrow indicates that the High Loch Leven Lake trail and another road head west (left).

Miles: 3.3 - 3.5
Elevation change:
-50 feet

Turn west (left) and follow the road and marked trail as they loop to the southwest for a total of 0.2 mile until you reach an arrow indicating a turn southwest off the snow-covered road (16).

Miles: 3.5 - 3.9
Elevation change:
+50, -50 feet

Turn southwest (right) off the snow-covered road and continue to follow the marked trail to the southwest for 0.4 mile until you reach the sign indicating that you have reached the end of the High Loch Level Lake trail (17). The sign is on a large, lone tree overlooking the lake.

Miles: 3.9 - 7.8
Elevation change: +150, -1000 feet

Retrace the route for 3.9 miles back to the trailhead (1).

Elevation Profile
Elevation profile
Link to elevation profile
Link to waypoint data
Link to full page map
Link to see and submit reviews and corrections about tour