Location: Strawberry, CA (towards Lake Tahoe)
Distance: ~3 miles
Type: Day-hike; Out-and-back
Permits & Fees: Parking is free (if parking on dirt road outside of the Lover’s Leap Campground). There is a $5 parking fee to use the campground lot.
There are two ways to start this hike, either at Strawberry, CA via Lover’s Leap Campground or at Camp Sacramento. We chose to start at the Lover’s Leap Campground. Sunscreen, water, hiking shoes, leggings or pants (we ran into a rattlesnake) are a must.
Trail Summary – ~3 Miles Total
Please refer to this map.
- Trailhead to “turn-out” – ~1 mile
- Turn-Out to top of East Wall – 0.5 miles
- East Wall to start of “turn-out” (Pony Express National Historical Trail) -0.5 miles
- Back to Trailhead – ~1 mile
We started the hike around 10 a.m. on a Saturday morning. We parked along a dirt road behind Strawberry Lodge and walked a quarter of a mile to the Lover’s Leap Campground. Here is where we began the hike to the top of the East Wall.
NOTE: There are several ways to make it to the top of Lover’s Leap. The information I have provided is how we chose to complete this hike.
Although the first half mile or so of the hike is level, the loose rocks and boulders that make up the trail add a bit more of a challenge. To the left of the trail very early on in the hike, there is a large boulder, called Monk’s Rock, used by mountain climbers to practice belaying. As we continued on, we could see climbers making their way up the East Wall of Lover’s Leap.
The trail eventually turned into a dirt trail, and we continued on towards Pyramid River (we missed the turn-out to go to the top of the East Wall the first time around). Shortly before we reached the river, we heard a rattle and instantly, a rattlesnake slithered out right in front of us across the trail. Luckily we heard it before we accidentally stepped on it. We froze up so unfortunately we didn’t snap a picture!
We hiked all the way to the bridge that crosses over Pyramid River and turned around to find the turn-out. The turn-out is very hard to find since the start of it is covered by tree branches. Shortly after the turnout is a sign with information on birds in the area, so if you passed that sign, you’ve gone too far.
Once we found the turn-out, we continued on a narrow path that led up the face of a large slab of granite. There is also an option to hike to the side of this wall that is less steep. After about 10 more minutes of hiking upwards, we made it to the top of the East Wall of Lover’s Leap. The view was incredible:
We hung out on the top of the wall for about 20 minutes and headed back down towards Lover’s Leap Campground. After the hike, we headed to the Strawberry Lodge.