West Ridge (Lake Sylvia)

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 38.84430°N / 120.158°W
Additional Information Route Type: Hike/Scramble
Additional Information Time Required: A long day
Additional Information Difficulty: Class 2
Sign the Climber's Log


Drive US 50 to Wrights Lake Road. This road is located about 35 miles east of Placerville (or about 6 miles west of Twin Bridges). Follow the winding Wrights Lake Road about 5 miles in a northerly direction until you reach the "Lyons Creek Trailhead". There is limited parking here.

Route Description

Overview. Most people do this route as an overnighter, or combine it with a climb of neighboring Mt. Price or Mt. Agassiz from Lake Sylvia/Lyons Lake area. Although it involves a long day, this trip can easily be done as a day hike for strong parties. The one-way distance is about 5.7 miles, with about 3,300' of elevation gain. That's almost exactly half of the Mount Whitney day hike, but at a much lower elevation. No problem, right? Plus, as with Mount Whitney, overnight permits are sometimes unavailable for the desolation wilderness (there is no quota for single day use), making a day hike sometimes the only viable option.

The Route. The route is fairly straightforward to Lake Sylvia. Simply follow the well-defined Lyons Creek trail up the eponymous Lyons Creek, until you reach Lake Sylvia (about 4.5 miles). Over this distance, you've gained about 1,300 feet. Pyramid Peak is now only 1 mile away, but almost 2,000 feet above you.

From Lake Sylvia, aim for the obvious notch SSE of the lake. This is the trickiest part of the climb, as it involves some scrambling up the the saddle over loose rock, with some routefinding required. Fear not, however, as this is pretty easy going. From the notch, hang a left and walk up the south ridge of the peak. Don't stop until you're on top of the mountain. It is that easy. This is a longer route up the peak, but it is unquestionably the easiest way to summit.

Essential Gear

None, although a pair of gaiters might be nice to keep the sand and scree out of your boots on the way back down the south ridge. It is fun to "ski" the sand on this ridge.

Miscellaneous Info

If you have information about this route that doesn't pertain to any of the other sections, please add it here.

Additions and CorrectionsPost an Addition or Correction

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T. White

T. White - Sep 5, 2021 8:08 am - Hasn't voted

Caldor Fire

As of 9/5/21, this trail has been burned over by the Caldor Fire.

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