This is the easiest and shortest route to Needle Peak, and can be done in conjunction with Granite Chief, as well as Lyon Peak for an extra add-on. The route follows a windswept ridge that begins at the summit of Granite Chief. The ridge is covered in talus, flat bush-covered saddles, and large basalt gendarmes. The only class 3 is leading up the summit block of Needle Peak, the rest is mostly class 2 over awkward talus fields, and a couple of class 1 slogs through some brush. Views are excellent at every point in the hike.
The route begins once the summit of Granite Chief
is obtained. To get to the summit of Granite Chief, refer to the page for that mountain.
From the summit of Granite Chief, one can see Needle Peak to the west. To get there, begin by heading west off the summit of Granite Chief. You will immediately have to start to down climb a talus field below the summit, requiring some tricky footing. Once you are at the bottom of the talus, head cross-country on the ridge towards your goal. You may have to side sweep the ridge a bit due to trees and brush obscuring the actual ridge. Soon you will come to large granite boulders strewn upon the ridge. Either traverse around them, or scale them, which is easy class 3. Once atop the granite boulders, traverse around bush-covered rise in the ridge. Once around the small rise, you will see the large basalt gendarmes standing atop the ridge.. I don't suggest trying to climb these, as the rock is really loose. Traverse around to the south side of these cliffs and make your way back up to the ridge once you are around them. The summit block of Needle Peak is directly above now. The easiest way up to the summit is an easy class 3 access chute on the west side of the summit block. Climb up the chute and take in the views.
To continue to Lyon Peak, simply head west from the base of the summit pinnacle of Needle and follow the ridge over a small rise, down a talus field, across a saddle, and up the last talus field to the summit. It about an extra mile and a half to the summit of Lyon from Needle.
Stats: From Squaw Valley Parking Lot: 10 miles round trip with the Lyon Peak add on.
From High Camp, Squaw Valley: 7 miles round trip with the Lyon Peak add on.
If you are attempting this in winter, snowshoes will be needed. During snow-free conditions, good hiking boots and plenty of water will suffice.