A view from the Sierra Nevada mountains
The Pyramid Peak trailhead is located 85 miles east of Sacramento, California, and 21 miles west of the California/Nevada state line on U.S. Highway 50, between Strawberry and Twin Bridges. The 4-mile all-day hike climbs approximately 4,400 feet through mixed conifer and alpine forest to reach the peak at 9,983 feet above sea level. The hike includes photo opportunities of Lake Tahoe, the Sierra Nevada range of which the peak is a part, and the California Central Valley. The best months to hike the peak are July and September.
1. Arrive around 7 a.m. to avoid the worst of the summer heat. Park in the dirt turnout near the Caltrans Chain Control sign located at mile marker 59. If that area is full, drive down the highway and look for another pullout.
2. Walk up the highway for 300 feet toward the east. The trailhead is not marked, but several paths climb up the loose rocks of a steep cutbank on the north side of highway. Once you’re on top, the trail becomes obvious.
3. Follow the steep trail heading up slope on the east side of Rocky Creek. Take your time when crossing fallen logs to be sure you don’t get diverted off the main trail. Take photos of the large trees and cascading waterfalls.
4. Take a break at 7,500 feet elevation where the trail crosses the creek and heads west. Fill up your water supply. Use a filter or add purification tablets. Check your feet for blisters and apply moleskin or adhesive bandage if necessary. Enjoy the first views of the summit.
5. Follow the trail as it turns toward the north at 8,000 feet elevation and climbs through rock outcrops and juniper trees. Drink plenty of water and travel slowly; this will be the hottest part of the hike if there is no wind.
6. Scramble with caution up the last 500 feet where the route climbs a pyramid shaped pile of 3- to 6-foot boulders. The easiest approach to the peak is on the southwest side, where boulders give way to solid bedrock. Once you’re on top, eat lunch, take photographs, and send a text message with photo to your friends.
7. Navigate back down the rocky upper pyramid. Locate the trail as soon as possible to avoid getting lost in the juniper scrub. Follow the trail back down the same way you came up, stopping regularly to rest your knees.