As a somewhat back-packing novice, it was time to broaden my horizons and see what Northern California has to offer. Brashears did the research to find a highly rated hike in/out trip and Loch Leven Lakes seemed to fit the bill. The trip started really well, I was loaned a back-pack with my friend's wife's Bra left in it. Let the fun commence by saving this little gem for the campfire.
It's always good to be well prepared for a challenging hike in warm weather. Maybe some water, a power bar etc. So we decided to go to Auburn Ale house, drink several beers and eat burgers. What you can take from this is - it's a challenging hike but not so bad you have to start being healthy beforehand. If you do what we did, be sure to try the Irish Red Ale. Nitrogen based and the closest thing to real beer this side of Boston.
We went in September by which time nights are cooling off but day time temps are warm. Summer is probably optimal if you need to plan ahead, as the weather is probably more stable. However, I am told it is pretty crowded and almost a party like atmosphere up there during mid-summer. This could be good if you are in the hunt for some happy campers of the opposite sex!
The hike is moderately steep with rocky parts and will take you up to 3.5 hours. If you decide to take the - beer fueled, male testosterone, i am going to beat you up there pace - like we did, you may get it done in under 2.5 There are three lakes in total and I would skip the first one and choose one of the latter two upper lakes that you come across.
Dependant on the time of year you may well get a site previously used to camp that will have a spot for a fire already set-up. Be sure to get a fire permit before hand and you'll be well on the way to discussing friends wives bra sizes around it in no time. There are some nice spots with shade right on the lakes where you can fish and swim. Fall is a good option for these activities when crowds are down, water is warmer and the shriveling factor - that could make those other campers not so happy - reduced.
The secnery is awesome and there are hiking opportunities with some great views. Midnight hikes (i.e. stumbling aimlessly in the middle of nowhere) are a lot of fun too, so pack appropriately - warm clothing, flashlights, compass and some random tool to beat your belligerent friends with.