Trails in Northern California

Trails in Northern California

Leave No Trace!

Visit for more information about Desolation Wilderness. Visit or call 1- 877-444-6777 to make park reservations. Visit Campfire Permits to get a permit online. More about Leave No Trace principles.

June 24, 2012

Lyons Lake, Desolation Wilderness, CA

Upon arriving at Lyons Lake, I discovered completely idyllic, serene views, and wilderness solitude.  (Visited only by a photogenic marmot, that is!)  Lyons Lake offers the classic wilderness experience Desolation strives to provide.

*  For a newer article visit Lyons and Sylvia Lakes 2015  I suggest scrolling through the photos here though!
If you click on a photo you can scroll through the photos, enlarged for easier viewing.  At the bottom of this article I have posted Wikiloc's link for GPS tracks, a topo map of the trail, and an elevation profile.

Sunset at Lyons Lake in June 2012.


Difficulty:  Strenuous. Climbing rocky terrain, several creek crossings.  Take extra socks or waterproof boots.

Length:  10+ miles RT per my GPS.

Elevation:  range from 6707 to 8401 feet.

Directions:  Take Wrights Lake Road north off of Highway 50, out of Kyburz, CA.  Follow the signs to Lyons Creek Trailhead.  The Wrights Lake Road will be between tract 36 and tract 39 along Highway 50.
Other advisories: There is free parking; no restroom.  At the trailhead there are day passes available that you will need to cross into the Desolation Wilderness.  If you are planning to backpack in, obtain a permit from  , a Tahoe Basin Ranger Station or from Pacific Ranger Station off of Highway 50 at Fresh Pond..  There are minimal fees.  No campfires allowed inside the wilderness boundaries.  Fishing is popular and you need your fishing license. Check for Desolation's current regulations.

Wildflowers abound while the area is still moist with runoff from snow melt.  They line the trail and there is no need to bushwhack around to have the pleasure of the colors.

Alongside Lyons Creek Trail this creek flows invitingly, and offers picturesque, idyllic wading and resting areas, not to mention more photo opportunities!

As you approach Desolation, it is getting drier and rockier, but as you climb in elevation (gradually until the fork up to Lyons Lake) you'll wind your way through some more shady areas, but the threat is the mosquitoes are there waiting for you!!! They seem to love Deet.

 This trail is not only inviting to us, but those flying biting ravenous bugs.  The trail gains elevation slowly at first and is as the photo depicts, pleasant and easy.  But it's deceptive!

 It gradually gets steeper and definitively rockier!

Then the junction for Lyons or Sylvia Lakes is clearly marked with a forestry post, and both are wonderful destinations. It's only .1 mile farther to Lyons though quite a bit steeper climb.

 On a warm day you tend to look for some shady rest as the trail has wandered away from the creek. A hat is nice protection and sunscreen is worth the trouble.
The next thing you know you'll cross Lyons Creek, preferably by going from rock to rock, but plan on getting wet.

The trail up to Lyons Lake winds upward through the rocks and boulders, and is pretty easy to follow. 

This creek flowing from Lyons is slightly off trail, actually easy to get to for a rest.

You have arrived!  There is an outlet from Lyons that has a small dam on its north side that you can cross to get to this small clearing beside the lake that is shaded.

This little marmot will probably visit you. He was happy to let me wander around taking photos but he didn't get into my things, as some will do without apology. There are several campsites around the lake.  I chose the flat granite east of the outlet.

This photo is of the west side of Lyons Lake later in the day.

 Fewer wildflowers are to be found up here, but these were bright accents to the drier scenery.
The evening sky from southeast of the Lyons Lake outlet.

 As I descended the next day, this was my view from Lyons Lake.

Wikiloc GPS tracks:  Lyons Lake in Desolation Wilderness 

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Happy Trails!  Thanks for dropping by!

Updated links and facts 06-2016
Happy Trails!

updated 8-2012
Updated with a link to a new post about this hike and a new link for reservations.