The Highland Loop Trail in the Loch Lomond Recreation Area combines a redwood and oak graced ridgeline with lakeshore scenery, fishing, and picnicking opportunities. The loop, which actually combines the Highland Trail with the Loch Trail, begins at the Glen Corrie Picnic Area. Rangers suggest starting here rather than the park store parking area to help cut down on the elevation gain because portions of the trail can get strenuously steep. However, those who are willing to take on the challange are rewarded with an often-quiet hike through the area's forested ridgelines. Redwood, tanbark oak, live oak and madrone all rise from the hillsides.
The trail is along a hardpacked dirt service road with rolling elevation, and it eventually reaches a vista point looking out over the far end of Loch Lomond and the cascading treelienes of the San Lorenzo Valley. At the trail's far end, the Highland Trail meets the Loch Trail and descends quickly and steeply for about 450 feet to the lake's edge. Touching down at Deer Flat Picnic Area, an often empty picnic area with boat dock and tables set on the water's edge, the Loch Trail begins to weave and meander along the shoreline and its coves, and it works its way back to the main park area. Climbing and dropping as it traverses a finicky shoreline, wooden steps and bridges aid in manuvering across the coves and creeks into the lake.
As the trail nears the park store area, developments such as more picnic areas, a fishing dock, and flats more frequently used by the visitors who fish along the shoreline increasingly come into view. A bathroom and some interpretive signage is located at the park store, along with boat rental facilities for getting onto the lake. From here, hikers can take the park road up a gradual grade following the ups and downs of the trail back to the Glen Corrie Picnic Area.
The Glen Corrie Picnic Area and trailhead has a bathroom and water along with ADA-friendly picnic areas and trash receptacles. Some snacks are available for sale at the park store further down the park road.
The combination of trails, mostly well-marked but sometimes not, can be confusing. A park map containing all the trails is available at the park store and can be pretty helpful on the loop hike. Loch Lomond Recreation Area hours can be found here or by calling 831.420.5320.
70 miles south of San Francisco, 35 miles north of Monterey, and unabashedly left of center, you'll find great surf, sandy beaches, redwood-covered mountains, laid-back towns, organic farms, and a burgeoning beer and wine scene. It's impossible to pick one place to visit in Santa Cruz County. Take a quick cruz of them all!