Pack your camera and a wildflower book, as there is still time to visit some alpine wildflower displays. A great place to start is the Lyons Creek Trail just four miles in from Highway 50 on Wrights Lake Road (about 5 miles east of Kyburz). There is plenty of parking for this popular trail and ample overflow space as well. What is great about this trail is the option available to make this anywhere from a super-easy outing to one of the more difficult ones in the area – you decide based on the weakest member of your group.
Before starting on the trail, be sure to apply some heavy-duty insect repellant, and carry the bottle with you for a reapplication in a few hours. Also, if you plan on hiking into Desolation Wilderness (about 3.0 miles along the trail), then fill out a Day Use Permit at the kiosk at the trailhead.
For an easy outing, start along the service road for a very flat portion of the trail. As the road turns to trail, you start just a little climbing. You will walk through a meadow lush with wildflowers, including lupine, paintbrush, and corn lilies. This is reaching the end of their season now, but there will still be plenty of yellow, purple, and orange colors to absorb. What is also nice about this stretch of the trail is that you are paralleling Lyons Creek. You will see a number of spur trails on your left to take you down to the creek. If your group includes small children, then this can be your destination for the day.
If you hike 1.5 miles, you will reach a post indicating Bloodsucker Lake to your left. You can opt to turn here and take a short trail down to Lyons Creek – again a good destination idea. If you are opting for a longer journey, then continue straight at the post.
At 3.0 miles, you enter into Desolation Wilderness and most of the climbing ensues. You still have opportunities to reach Lyons Creek for rests along the way. With the heavy rain and snow this year, the creek will still be flowing a little. At about 4.0 miles in, you will cross the outlet stream from Sylvia Lake and then proceed a short distance to your last trail post. Here you make the decision to continue straight to Sylvia Lake or turn left in the direction of Lyons Lake. The distance to Lyons is 0.5 miles, with a gain of 420’, while to Sylvia it is 0.4 miles and a gain of 200’. If you are looking for difficulty, choose the climb to Lyons Lake. It can be cooler and windy at Lyons, so pack a jacket. At Sylvia on a warm day, you might enjoy a swim, try catching fish, or sit back and maybe watch some climbers coming down from Pyramid Peak above you.
Whichever lake you choose, when you arrive be sure to turn around and visually mark the trail that brought you here for your return. It is easy to be at a lake and lose your sight of the faint trail taking you back to your car. I did this on my first visit to Lyons Lake, but fortunately, my trail dog, Toots, was able to figure out our trail home. Now I pay better attention when arriving at any lake.