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 29, 2014

Lyons Creek Trail to Lake Sylvia-June 2014


more profusely than I have ever seen along Lyons Creek!


Lake Sylvia, Desolation Wilderness, June 2014
Distance:  12+ miles round trip, upward, some loose rocky sections.
Difficulty:  At 12 miles I would rate any hike difficult, but aside from length, there are several creek crossings (one could be ankle deep).  A plus is the elevation gain is accomplished going in, and coming out is downhill!
Elevation gain:   + 1875 feet up and -1875 back down.
Notes: Day passes are available at the trail head. There is parking, but no restrooms are available. You could drive up to the Bloodsucker Lake parking, or stop before you get off of Highway 50. For backpacking, see the notes near the end of this page.  More notes at the end of the article.

Photos of the trail and views  are arranged chronologically.  Click on one and you can see them enlarged.  Another great website, with photos posted by me and others, is Desolation Wilderness Volunteers.  It also includes a wealth of information if you plan on visiting.

Walk along a barely used roadway for  forestry related activities.  In a short distance though it becomes trail, first leading you through an large open meadow.
Take one of the use paths to your left when you hear the water, and at some of those locations you can refill your water or maybe splash to cool off.
The following photos will take you through to the lake.
Enter the woods on a hard packed soil trail.
I get excited when I reach this point, feeling closer to my destination.  Pyramid Peak is 
some hikers' goal.  The lake is in the bowl beneath the peak though, so you 
won't have to climb it unless you are prepared to do so.  That is another story.
This open area has corn lilies about hip high, not yet in bloom, intermingled with wildflowers.

The creek crossings are usually shallow.  Step across the rocks and head into the woods again.
The view to the south side.  
As you get closer to the lake, the trail is composed of loose rocks.  If you are prone to twisting an ankle, mid boots will help prevent injury.  I have seen people hiking out here in flip flops!
Although this is not the crossing, it is the last creek you will cross to get to Lake Sylvia.  I included this shot so you can get an idea of the creek depth at this time.
We have arrived!  Bring your fishing pole if you have one.  There were a handful  of fishermen along the west shore and I could see fish swimming along the south side where I had lunch.  Please note that this lake is a sensitive area with recent restoration work done.  Please respect the effort.  These signs will show you the areas to avoid:

Vicariously, enjoy blooms in Desolation this June and July

without driving up and hiking by viewing the photos below:

and more can be found at  Desolation Wilderness Volunteers website under the media heading.
Driving Directions:
  • Take Wrights Lake Road north off of Highway 50 at Kyburz. 
  • Follow the signs to Lyons Creek Trailhead. (No restroom here) If you reach the Bloodsucker Lake parking, you have gone too far.  
  •  Day use fees: none; permits available at trailheads seasonally.   
  • Backpacking: $5.00 for the first night, and $10.00 for 2-12 nights.  Children 12 and younger are free.  
To obtain passes or for assistance in trip planning:
  • or visit Pacific Ranger Station Fresh Pond, 7887 Highway 50, Pollock Pines, CA or call (530) 647-5415 .  
  • If you are from the Tahoe side, check with Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit at (530) 543-2600. 
Other regulations and restrictions can be found on the website, too.
 I highly recommend you bring water and some snacks or lunch. No fires are permitted in the wilderness. Have your fire permit to use your stoves and lanterns. 
Get your permit here: Fire permits
 Please Leave No Trace and enjoy your trip!

Happy Trails!

Related Posts you might be interested in for nearby trails:

Desolation Wilderness
10+ miles
30 miles
Moderate to Strenuous/Difficult
18 miles
12+ miles
Moderate to Strenuous
13+ miles
Moderate to Strenuous
Umpa Lake & Enchanted Pools
8+ miles
Cross country ~ Moderate
Horsetail Falls via Pyramid Creek TH
Aprox.  10 miles to lakes at the top of the falls
"Difficult, and potentially dangerous" miles
10 miles
8 miles
Lyons Lake via Lyons Creek Trail
10+ miles
9.2 miles
6+ miles
Lyons Creek Trail with melting snow
9+ miles
3.8 miles
2010-09 We hiked 12 days.
167 total
Moderate to Strenuous

See the Full Table of Contents.
Added updated links and Table of Contents 06-2016