Approximate Route
November 2nd, 2002
~7.5 miles RT
4100 vertical feet

This was a Stanford Outing Club trip led by Peter McColgan.

Although, most of the group left on Friday night and camped at Wrights Lake, I decided to leave very early on Saturday morning and meet the group at the trailhead. I left with Mark at 6am and after a 3.5 hour drive from the Bay Area, our first task was to find the trailhead.

Finding the Trailhead:

The trailhead is on US 50 between the towns of Twin Bridges and Strawberry. We parked in a small turnout at the Southwest side of the road (legal as of Nov 2002). This turnout is small and sandy, and it is located at the edge of the town of Strawberry. There is a "chain required" sign at the end of the turnout (probably not facing the road, unless chains are actually required). From the Tahoe direction, the turnout is to the left shortly after the sign marking mile 59.0 of HW 50. Also, there is a "Passing Lane 4 miles Ahead" sign just opposite to the turnout. The turnout is just before a place where a creek goes under the road, but this is not very obvious. For those with a GPS, the turnout is at 38.807805N 120.136722W (WSG-84). [Note: parking on the pavement on the opposite side of the turnout is also legal.]

The use trail starts 150 yards Northeast of the turnout. It's not next to the creek! The trailhead is just next to the rectangular black and white sign marking mile 59.0 of HW 50. Also, somebody sprayed painted a green "T" on a rock next to the place where the trail starts. This is a good use trail (although very steep), so if you find yourself bushwhacking, you are not on the trail.

The Hike

We started relatively late at 10:30am. The trail ascends steeply up a loose slope with the occasional switch back. At first, the trail basically follows a small ridge at the East side of Rocky Canyon. The hike is through a beautiful and shady pine forest.

Picture by Larysa Snisarenko
Pine Forest on the way to Pyramid

After 2000ft, the trail leaves this small ridge, becomes less steep and eventually crosses to the West side of Rocky Canyon. The "use" trail is extremely good and it is easy to follow (assuming you were able to start on it). There is not bushwhacking as long as you stay on the trail. If you are bushwhacking, you are not on the trail, go back and try to find where the trail went. There are even reflective markers and metal arrows attached high on trees in easy-to-miss spots (these markers are high as they are intedend for cross country skiers).

Picture by Larysa Snisarenko

After 3600 feet of easy Class 1 hiking, then the interesting part starts. The last 400 feet are an easy Class 2 boulder field. If you choose your route wisely (stick to the left as much as possible), the boulders are not very big and most people shouldn't have any problems with it. Also, the higher you go, the gentler the slope becomes (however, that also means that the summit "seems" to get farther and farther).

Picture by Girish Hullati
Class 2 Boulder Field towards the top of Pyramid Peak

We got to the top of Pyramid around 2:15pm. There was an incredible view from the summit, although it was very hazy towards the South due to a forest fire. Aloha Lake looked very strange (and quite dry) from above. We were also able to recognize the major peaks in the area: Tallac, Dicks, Mount Price, Roundtop, and the sisters. Sierra-at-Tahoe and Heavenly ski resort were easy to spot. There was "some" snow visible on the runs, but given that the North Face of Pyramid was almost snow free (except for a tiny patch), I think it must have been artificial snow. The Southern shore of Lake Tahoe and the huge Nevada casinos were also visible.

Picture by Girish Hullati
The group at the top of Pyramid Peak
(left to right: Girish, Cris, Mark, Jianmei, Laurie, Peter, Arturo, Henri, Ksenia, Marcin)

The geocache "Room @ the top" is hidden at the top (geocaching is a GPS-based world game, go to for more info). I tried to find it for about 5 minutes, but we were in a hurry to go back as we were worry about daylight, so I decide to decode the clue. With the clue, it took less than a minute to find the well camouflage cache (with some help of some people that were at the top). Inside the geocache there was a piece of paper (register), a pouch of Goo, two pens, a "Frequent Gambler's Card" from one of the Tahoe casinos, and a Homer Simpson Pez. I took the pouch of Goo and left a pouch of sunscreen.

Picture by Girish Hullati
Arturo descending Pyramid Peak

After 45 minutes at the top of Pyramid, the group started descending, but I stayed a little bit longer at the top to take some pictures. When I finally caught up with the group at the bottom of the boulder field, I was surprised to see everybody looking around. It turned out that Girish hid his hiking poles in a tree, but he didn't remember which one. When asked what kind of tree it was, he just answered: "a pine." At 9500ft, all trees are pines... I joined this new treasure hunt and I found his nice hiking poles very well hidden inside a bushy pine tree.

We then started hiking down, arriving at the cars just at sunset (5pm). Some people decided to stick around Tahoe for an extra day, but some of us, just drove back to the Bay Area.

Do you want more Pictures? Follow these links:
Girish's Pictures (requires Ofoto signup)
Larysa Snisarenko (requires Ofoto signup)

© 2002 Arturo Crespo