Pyramid Peak Trail

HARD 84 reviews
#5 of 38 trails in

Pyramid Peak Trail is a 6.3 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Twin Bridges, California that features a river and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail is primarily used for hiking and snowshoeing and is best used from June until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
6.3 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
4045 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

hiking

snowshoeing

forest

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

scramble

snow

hiking
2 hours ago

This trail was definitely hard with mostly vertical hiking, but the views were totally worth it! There's even a ledger box at the top, though it needs a new notebook. To find the "trailhead," look for an orange ribbon hanging off a small tree. From the top, you can see part of Lake Tahoe, Lake Aloha and a bunch of other lakes in Desolation Wilderness, along with the mountain ranges. The bouldering over the last part of the hike was one of my favorite parts! I recommend an early start and a windbreaker since it was really windy toward the top.

hiking
2 days ago

A very challenging hike! Beautiful views at the top though! Highly recommended!

hiking
18 days ago

The snow is melting fast. There is still a little left towards the top but nothing to worry about. I decided to do this to get ready for some bigger mountains and this is now my favorite hike I’ve done in desolation wilderness so far. The views are awesome at the top!

backpacking
30 days ago

Still plenty of snow from foothills on up, and it’s a generally soggy mess between parking and the snow. However, I approached from the West not East. I’m new to the area and an amateur outside of familiar forests and hill trails. I kicked off the season with a hike to Lake Sylvia by way of Lyons. I had enough time and weather finally broke today (vs yesterday), so I figured what the heck, I’ll give a go at that summit. I approached from the West, starting just north above Sylvia. Marched straight up the steep sticky snow, then swerved north a bit to finish initial ascent over scree/boulders. After that, it was mostly deep sticky snow until the final summit, which was a few hundred(?) yards of big boulder-hopping (no snow). I doubted my ability to descend the way I came, so headed down more West, just north of that lake sitting south of Sylvia (over the range). Looks like a little bear activity back there btw. Otherwise, lots of thick sticky snow, but also loads of melting snow pack forming a big wet sloppy mess from there back to Lyons and then parking. Summary: it’s wet and snowy up there. But y’all locals/regulars probably already know that.

hiking
5 months ago

Great hike / snowshoe if you're up for an adventure and don't mind route finding to make it happen. The views of the SIerras from the top are impressive as are those of the adjacent peaks / ridge lines which look incredible in snow. Little tricky to follow the established route and it differs a bit from what you'll see in most maps currently.

Current conditions: Snow starts a few hundred feet into the trail and becomes consistent around 1,500' up. The final climb was partially covered and required careful attention to avoid postholing around the rocks -- descended down the backside for deeper snow. Slopes were pretty solid in the morning (just shy of needing to put on traction) but soft by noon for turns or snowshoes.

Route: Park right past the highway sign a few minutes outside Strawberry (*may not be acceptable with snow on the road*) and walk up a few hundred yards to reach the "trailhead" which is little more than a footpath in the dirt. Take note of where you cross the stream as it's tricky to track on the return.

hiking
5 months ago

12/29/17- Solo hiked this route at 7am and finished by 12pm. I clocked 7.4miles RT with 4,200ft gain. The route was clear of snow up to mile 1.4~, then you hit thin hard pack. Snow was fairly hard pack up to the summit. Follow the cairns the whole way. Only wore boots w/gaiters, thermal top, beanie, soft shell pants and thin gloves. Used poles for the gain/lose.

8 months ago

Tough but worth it. Park at the chain control sign and walk up the highway (w/ traffic) about 40 paces and then cross the street and climb up onto the trail. GPS is great to have for this trail, if not, follow the cairns all the way up. FYI, I saw a bear :-)

hiking
8 months ago

Yesterday we again did the round trip from the Twin Bridges lot, down the highway and up the Rocky Cyn trail to the summit, then SE along the ridge and dropped down scree slopes and cross country to descend along Horsetail Falls. 9.3 mile RT in 7 hrs. This is much more varied, interesting and fun than simply going up and down Rocky Cyn. I'm 64 and my bud Jeff Risser is 42. We've done this route in reverse too. One of my favorite hikes !

hiking
9 months ago

Did this on September 16. Check other posts for spotting the trailhead. Also note that the painted rock depicting the start of the trail can be difficult to spot at night. Also, this is not a white dot. It's a big rock with faded white paint splotched on it. The trailhead is just past the creek heading towards Lake Tahoe. The trail runs parallel to this creek almost all the way. The trail is not difficult to follow. For the first mile you are on the right side and parallel to the stream. Then you cross it and then the stream is to the light and the trail parallels it again. I could follow this trail at night and under headlamps. Once the stream disappears the trail follows the valley contour till it leads to the boulders etc and then there are lot of cairns to guide you. I did Pyramid Peak and went further - Mt Agassiz, Price Peak, Mosquito pass, Jacks Peak, Dicks Peak, Dicks pass, caught the PCT and headed back via Ralston Peak trail.

hiking
9 months ago

Used a Garmin GPS watch. It said distance from start to summit was 4.1 miles. Almost 2 miles longer than all trails says it is. Still amazing hike.

9 months ago

Kinda hard to find the start to this trail, I had to zoom in on the app and bushwhack a little. 3 hours total for me (out, back, relaxing up top), but probably longer if you're not a distance runner. Steep beginning, but fun bouldering at the end, and unbeatable views.

9 months ago

Well, as of 09/03/2017, I accomplished Pyramid Peak for the first time. It was an incredible journey! Allow 6 hours in total, that way you can enjoy the view and take your time needed heading back down. Best route is to pull over by the Chain Control Sign by the over head on Highway 50. Then cross the freeway where you see the Mile 43 Stone. You'll see a rock with a paint spot on it, that's your beginning part. Climb up that, and keep climbing and climbing. It's a big uphill battle. Steep hills and rocks. Keep in mind that you'll get winded easily if you're not in shape. I'm in my mid 20's and had a tough time with the beginning part, but then it got easier after a while. Bring plenty of water!! I brought 4 waters, and 2 Gatorades. The trails are easy to follow, just pay attention to the trail markings, and foot prints! The scramble up the summit, to the peak, is the best part! You're highly rewarded at the end.

hiking
9 months ago

trailhead is a challenge to find. park in the pullout next to the lit overhead chain control sign. walk up the highway 100 feet then cross over and scramble up the embankment. you'll run into the trail immediately. this is a challenging hike. The terrain is tough both up and down, just easier on the lungs going down. We are mid forties and regular hikers but still took us 4 hours to the top. that 4078 elevation gain is a monster. before you hit this trail, I suggest mount Tallac. if you like that one, you'll enjoy this one and I found them to be similar in their abilities to kick my rear! start early, bring plenty of water (I went through 3 liters) there are a couple of filtering opportunities the first half. The last quarter mile is a class 2 boulder scramble to the peak. gorgeous views!

9 months ago

Trail is a lot more established and easy to follow than some others lend to believe...if you can find it. Steep and steady. Beware false summits.

backpacking
9 months ago

What a beauty :) so many beautiful alpine gardens! Super steep start!! Btw the entrance is kind of hard to find! But it's right across from the speed limit sign so that should help! Have fun :D and bring your cameras with a long telephoto lens or at least 50mm + since there is so much to take photos of that are kind of far!

10 months ago

Very steep since we have to go up 4000ft just in 3.3 miles. The first mile is steep as hell, then the trail start flatten out a bit. However, we forget all the tired since the view on the top is outstanding

hiking
10 months ago

Made it back 20 years later. It's tougher being 20 years older but had a great time.

10 months ago

It's a very hard hike but the view at the summit is breathtaking.It's worth every effort.

hiking
10 months ago

Nice hike, great views of the eledorado wilderness! you can camp on the top of the peak!!

backpacking
10 months ago

This is pristine land. The terrain is perhaps a bit challenging to navigate, but the reward is a beautiful Sierra alpine view.

Please note that fires are not permitted here, even if you see fire rings.

10 months ago

We ended up following the blue trail with a relatively large group. Most people started to turn back once the scaling portions started. Once past the first waterfall there are many beautiful lakes at the top, which are completely hidden from below. From there on, it is relatively hard to stick to the "path" since there are little to no markers to follow. Once at the lakes, we ended up making our own path up - I don't recommend this, finding a clear way isn't always easy, there is lots of back tracking to find a way across everything and up everything. Our improvised "path" to the top was 75% scaling and scrambling up rocks and small creeks, 25% hiking. On the way down we took the red path (100% hiking). Honestly, I would suggest trying to take the red path, it's much easier - and although there isn't as much lakes you encounter, it beats risking losing your way up. The mountain is always in view, finding a way over to it, and up it was not easy on the blue path. Anyway, gl and have fun. Bring lots of water. Maybe hiking poles for downhill to relieve pressure from joints in knees and ankles.

hiking
10 months ago

hiking
11 months ago

I plan on doing this hike in mid of next month! This hike has been a fantasy of mine ever since I found out about it years ago.. I know that it's going to be a little difficult! I am as of now, training and building my cardio and my legs. It looks to be quite strenuous and a bit grueling. That does not phase me! I'm also a photographer, so I'll be getting some awesome shots in!! I WILL BE BACK TO WRITE MY ACHIEVEMENT!!

hiking
11 months ago

Amazing Hike. Quite difficult! Me and a buddy were driving from the East Bay to Tahoe and decided to stop and do a hike on the way. I hadn't hiked in years. Wasn't expecting it to be so hard!! Only had running shoes on, and no poles. Its a steep uphill climb most of the way (4000ft+). There was quite a lot of snow to get across also. Some of it on steep slopes. It was well worth the effort though. The final climb up the boulders is hard, considering your legs are fairly worn out by that point already. Took about 8 hours total up and down, with a few stops for food along the way. Absolutely beautiful alpine wilderness. Will do it again for sure. Stunning hike. NOT EASY!

hiking
11 months ago

Very strenuous but beautiful hike off the beaten path with great rewards at the top.

hiking
11 months ago

Hiked Pyramid Peak via the Rocky Canyon on July 3. I didn't see another person the entire day. Lots of elevation gain in a short distance (which was great, to me!).

Finding the trail off of 50 is a little challenging, but with a little patience, you can see a little area where it looks like people have made their way up (make sure you are on the east side of the creek). There is no official trail (just a use trail that is usually easy to follow), so don't expect any signs or official markers. There are some orange markers on tree branches here and there, but I wouldn't rely on them.

The "trail" starts off a bit steep, which I found to be a great way to get right you into the hike.

There are a great deal of downed trees in the lower half of the hike, so the "trail" has a tendency to meander a bit. Also, there are a decent amount of side use trails, I think from people who want to see the falls along the creek. I lost the trail a few times before finding it again because of these.

There was a single creek crossing (a little over a mile in), and I was able to find a place where I could hope over a couple of stones. My feet got a bit wet. There are a great deal of use trails in this section, I imagine because at different times of the year (and in different snow melt years), the creek is easier/harder to cross at various points. Do be careful as the falls are raging pretty aggressively right now, and a slip into the creek could be bad.

As of July 3, there was still a great deal of snow above ~8000 feet. The tree coverage shadowing has maintained this snow since there is no snow above tree line (~9000 feet). I had a pair of microspikes and a pair of hiking poles that were both very helpful, although a determined hiker doesn't necesarilly need them (the snow was incredibly loose, so the poles saved me multiple times from spilling!). Be aware of the snow around trees or melting outlets - it's easy to have one of your legs post through.

Once in the snow, I completely lost the "trail" - but at this point, it isn't really needed since you can make out the summit. Just aim for the summit and make your way up.

The last ~half mile below the summit is a class 2 scramble over a boulder field. It was pretty fun, but I was also pretty tired by that point and took it slow since I didn't want to get injured on a trail that no one else would be on that day.

The views from the summit were pretty spectacular (and for that matter, the views on the way up were great, too). I could see all of the way I believe to the White Mountains. I made a marmot friend at the top who was very curious of me.

The route down was much faster than the way up - took about half as long to get down as it did up. I also had an easier time following the "trail" once below the snow cover since it's more obvious from above than it is when hiking up from below.

All in all, a wonderful hike and mountain. If you're looking for a relatively unpopular mountain/hike near Tahoe, and enjoy challenging hikes, this is a great one for you.


One final note, in my haste to make it down, I lost a Nalgene water bottle at some point - this is a long shot, but if anyone finds it, I would be happy to pay you for its return (mark.a.mccreary@gmail.com). 2 reasons: I've had it for quite some time and holds sentimental value; and because I take pride in my record of not leaving a trace while hiking (I tend to pick up after people when I see their trash)...so I'm a bit upset to know that I have left something behind ruining other people's experiences.

hiking
11 months ago

Very steep at first but then its your regular old hike. Beautiful scenery and beautiful river which leads to Horsetail falls. Icy cold water.

hiking
11 months ago

Wow very steep trail, but the reward at end is worth the hard work... There was quite a bit of snow and a scramble up to the top.

hiking
Sunday, June 18, 2017

Steep and snowy, the one creek crossing was thigh high and moving fast, but doable. Lots of walking in snow. Strenuous and worth while hike.

hiking
Sunday, May 28, 2017

Awesome experience but failed to summit due to the melting snow. I was wearing trail runners that could not make it and I fell through. Safety first! Snow shoes would have put me at the top. I'll be back!

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