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Highland Loop

Loch Lomond Recreation Area

San Francisco Peninsula + Santa Cruz, California

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Highland Loop

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  • Parking for the Highland Loop is at the Glen Corrie Picnic Area.- Highland Loop
  • The trail begins with a brief crossing of the scenic Big Trees Trail at a sign immediately past the bathroom building.- Highland Loop
  • The Highland Trail immediately begins climbing through a forest of young redwood, tanbark oak, madrone, and live oak trees.- Highland Loop
  • Redwoods stand along the Highland Trail.- Highland Loop
  • After the climbing, the trail turns to rolling terrain along the higher ridges of Loch Lomond Recreation Area.- Highland Loop
  • A shady and scenic trail. One benefit to the Highland Trail is that you're unlikely to see many other hikers up here.- Highland Loop
  • Beyond the climbing, the trail tends to be wide hardpacked dirt.- Highland Loop
  • A scenic spot along the Highland Trail.- Highland Loop
  • The trail peaks at a spot overlooking Loch Lomond and the cascading forest skyline.- Highland Loop
  • A young redwood canopy on the Highland Trail.- Highland Loop
  • Trail posts leave intersections clearly marked, such as this one where the Highland Trail meets the Loch Trail.- Highland Loop
  • The Loch Trail continues the loop along the lake shore.- Highland Loop
  • Deer Flat Picnic Area, where the Loch Trail first meets the water of Loch Lomond.- Highland Loop
  • The lake area tends to be much more popular than the high trails.- Highland Loop
  • Scenic portions of trail along the Loch Trail.- Highland Loop
  • As the trail gets nearer to the park store and parking area, more developments appear such as fishing docks and picnic areas.- Highland Loop
  • Interpretive signs at the park store parking area. From here, continue up the park road to return to the Glen Corrie Picnic Area.- Highland Loop
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Incredibly scenic.
Cons: 
Steep in places.
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Region:
San Francisco Peninsula + Santa Cruz, CA
Congestion: 
Low
Pets allowed: 
Yes, with restrictions
Highest point: 
1,140.00 ft (347.47 m)
Net Elevation Gain: 
410.00 ft (124.97 m)
Year round: 
Yes
Parking Pass: 
Park entrance fee
Permit required: 
No
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Total Distance: 
4.50 mi (7.24 km)
Total elevation gain: 
993.00 ft (302.67 m)
Trail type: 
Loop
Trailhead Elevation: 
728.00 ft (221.89 m)
Typically multi-day: 
No
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Pro Contributor

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.

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