Back to index Hike into Sayles Canyon hike
Trip Date:  05/16/2014

: 10.5 Miles

Vertical Gain: 1500'

Group Size: 3

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.
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.   A couple of miles in you will come to a junction with the Bryan Meadow trail, and you can either take that or continue on the Sayles Canyon trail further south.  If you want to make this a circular hike, continue on either of these trails for about 3 miles, and then use the Pacific Crest trail which they both dead end into for about 2 miles to then pick up the other trail to head back.  This is mostly a forested hike, but the meadows and rivers along the way are wonderful environments to immerse yourself in.

Pyramid Peak visible from halfway up Beaver ski run at Sierra-at-Tahoe resort. Pyramid Peak from the start
My hiking partners Gail and Mark on the ski run taking pictures of Pyramid Peak. Hiking partners on the slopes
A recently constructed bridge along the Pony Express trail at the junction where we headed south into Sayles Canyon. Pony Express water crossing
The Sayles Canyon trailhead marker desperately needing some repairs.  This was actually 2 miles in from where we had to park with the access gate closed. Trailhead marker
Early on the trail up we had incredible views into Desolation Wilderness. Early views into Desolation
Just over a mile from the actual trailhead, there is a branch either further into the Canyon or a little north toward Bryan Meadow.  Both of them connect up to the Pacific Crest Trail about 3 miles further. Trail junction 
In late May during a terribly dry winter, we found ourselves navigating through a surprising amount of snow.  In fact, about 5.5 miles in we had to turn back when I fell into a snow hole up to my chest.
Snow everywhere
What is a wild, cross-country snow trek without having to cross significant amounts of water on a fallen log? Creek crossing
Just a few feet back from our stopping point, we found a great rock along the river to enjoy lunch.  Even had a USAF plane buzz us flying through the canyon while we were eating. Our lunch rock
The top of the rock had a nice flat area that had more than enough room for the three of us to chow down in comfort.
Another lunch rock shot
We made the most of our relaxation spot by hiding a geocache for others to stumble across as they navigate the serene trail. Geocache location
One last crossing of the river on the way back. River corssing back
GPS Track of the full hike. GPS Track of Hike