Back to index Sayles Canyon to Bryan Meadow Loop hike
Trip Date:  09/30/2014

Distance
: 13.5 Miles

Vertical Gain: 2200'

Group Size: 1

Hike Rating:  Easy   Moderate    Hard    Strenuous
Sayles Canyon route
Download GPX GPX for this trip
Sayles Canyon Elevation Profile
Start Coordinates:   N 38 47.573, W 120 06.361     End Coordinates:   Same as Start Coordinates  
Car Shuttle Req'd:   No Parking Directions:   Take Highway 50 to Tamarack Pines Road on the south side of the highway.  Follow this up to Sierra at Tahoe resort, and then turn right at the entrance to continue up to the parking coordinates.  In the winter and early spring a gate for this road will be locked, adding another 2 miles to the hiking distance.
Hazards of Note:   None. Crowd Factor:   Negligible.  Your chances of running into another party on this trail is very slim, except for the section that is along the Pacific Crest Trail for about a mile.
General Notes:
From the parking area, head up the Sayles Canyon trail, which will start picking up elevation immediately.  Great views of Pyramid Peak and some of the Desolation Wilderness are not to be missed behind you as you start up the canyon trail.   Most of the rest of the time you will be in pleasant forest, with limited views of anything in the distance other than along the PCT and a couple of spots near where each of these loop trails near their highest points.  A couple of miles in you will come to a junction with the Bryan Meadow trail, and head to the right (toward Round Meadow) for this part of the loop.  About 1/2 mile past the meadow the Sayles Canyon trail finally ends when it intersects with the Pacific Crest Trail, at almost 9000 feet in elevation.  Turn left (north) on the PCT and continue about a mile until you see the marker for the Bryan Meadows trail to your left.  A little over 4 miles and you will be back at the trail junction with Sayles Canyon, and then a mile back to the parking area. 

Signs at the trailhead showing the old and new versions. New Signs! Old and New
A nice glimpse of Pyramid Peak behind you along the trail with the snow-capped Jacks and Dicks peaks in the distance beyond. Pyramid on the way up
About a mile in is the intersection with the two trails that make up the loop for this trip.  This is showing the distances for the one I came back on this day. Intersection
Along the top of this ridge on the SW side of the trail is the path that John C. Fremont took in his crazy quest to cross the Sierras in the wintertime. Ridgeline
Once the elevation along the trail got to above 8500', the snow got more and more profuse from the early fall snowstorm that hit over the past weekend. Preview snow
A couple of signposts along the Pacific Crest Trail section gave good indications of where you were at on the hike.  Extended this day a couple miles just to fill in some trail I hadn't been on previously. Trail junction       Trail junction
At one point on the PCT the trees opened up just enough to catch a glimpse of the top of Freel Peak dusted with snow this early in the fall.
Freel with Snow
A hiker I met on the PCT examines some odd streaks on a tree just off the trail.  Too big to be bear scratches, and the suggestion of lightning strike exit marks came up. Lightning maybe?
I stopped at the junction of the PCT and the Bryan Meadow trail to offer a toast to my late father as I do on every hike.  Once again I was able to immerse myself wandering through an area he would have loved. Lunch toast
There were a few ants around, but I was still able to enjoy my lunch on this spot at the trail junction.
Lunch Rock
A look back at Bryan Meadows after having passed all the way through it. Bryan Meadow
Looks like we don't have to worry about this tree coming down anytime soon...! Not gonna fall
There were spots along the trail that for late September were surprisingly covered with green.Green everywhere
Some nice colors up Rocky Creek Canyon toward Pyramid Peak in the afternoon.Pyramid afternoon
GPS Track of the full hike. GPS Track of Hike