Lyon Peak - Interesting round trip from The Cedars / (Old) Soda Springs

Published by 360 Pro , 24 September 2014, 00h07.

Region: World » United States » California
Date of the hike:16 July 2014
Hiking grading: T4- - High-level Alpine hike
Climbing grading: I (UIAA Grading System)
Geo-Tags: USA   US-CA 
Height gain: 950 m 3116 ft.
Height loss: 950 m 3116 ft.
Access to start point:The Cedars Finding (legal) parking can be difficult (-> see report)

The Californian friend X. was interested to do a hike with me which included some scrambling in the Sierra Nevada. Since she didn't have any experience in "interesting" and only little in "regular" hiking I planned something which wouldn't be too difficult but offered the possibility to get a feeling of how some hands on the rock and off-trail hiking could be. I chose Lyon Peak which I had already planned to visit *in the winter once, but due to the circumstances at the time had to be postponed. This time I planned the approach from The Ceders, near Old Soda springs, which would make a nice round trip: up the whole NW- and down via it's N-ridge. With 11 miles and more than 3000 ft of altitude gain it was actually quite an aggressive plan for someone who never hiked more than a few hours before.

Parking around The Ceders is quite exclusive and if you don't want to get in trouble and park on someones private property (there are tons of "aggressive" signs which tell you that it is and not to park illegally!), you have to know where the very few public land areas are where you legally can park your car (supposedly there are 2 around The Cedars). For us it was relatively easy, because we were dropped off and picked-up again, no hassle with parking.

From The Cedars we first follow the Soda Springs (gravel) road westwards. After a little less than a mile we then turn left onto the road which leads the way up towards the Lyon Peak NW ridge (there are quite a few forest roads there, but it's actually less confusing than it might appear on the map). Once we reach the ridge we take a little break.

Here we leave the trail and continue along the ridge where we actually find some path traces. Shortly before the false summit it gets "interesting" and we can actually put our hands on the rock. The difficulty can be chosen and adjusted to ones need, the directest route is probably rather demanding and challenging, but on the south side there are rather easy approaches. We probably scramble a T4-, which my companion masters without any problems.

Even though the west summit has a huge cairn, we can't find a summit log and only then realize that we're not on the true summit yet. So we follow the ridge all the way to the highest point where we actually find the summit log. To our surprise Matthew Holliman visited the peak today too, but Lyon Peak doesn't seem to get a whole lot of visitors. The tiny log is more than 20 years old still hardly full yet.

For our descent back down to Old Soda Springs we first follow the connecting ridge almost back to the false west summit and from there follow the N-ridge to P. 8512 and P. 8406, where the ridge turns NE and drops down to P. 7889. There we turn left and follow the little valley towards Painted Rock were we find quite a good use trail on it's west side. This trail takes us all the way down to the houses of Old Soda Springs (Notice: we didn't follow the marked Painted Rock Trail, the one we followed must be a trail maintained by some owners of the houses there).

Even though we "trespassed" and ended up right in the back yard of a nice house, the owners were nice and told us all about the history of Old Soda Springs and even let us taste the water of the old spring there. After the interesting tour through Old Soda Springs we then follow the gravel road back to The Cedars where we were picked up again.

Conclusion: X. did really well and has proved to be ready for harder stuff now!

Hike partners: 360

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