Pyramid Lake is a short day hike for those able to hike on moderately
steep trails. Elevation gain to the lake is 1500' in 2.1 miles (460 m in
3.4 km). There is a broad diversity of plant and animal habitat along the
trail. The Pyramid Lake area is closed to camping.
Evidence of Fire
Park at mile 126.8 on State Route 20 on the north side of the road. A
Northwest Forest Pass is required for trailhead parking. The pass can be
obtained at the park's information stations and also at U.S. Forest
Service stations. Find the trailhead across the highway by the cascading
waters of Pyramid Creek. Bring ample drinking water. A climbing
route continues from the lake to Pyramid and Colonial Peaks.
Along the lower trail, notice the blackened trunks of large
Douglas-fir trees and thickets of young fir and lodgepole pine. Both of
these trees are fire adapted. Lodgepole pine requires intense heat for its
seeds to be released from their seed cones. Douglas-fir have very thick
bark, allowing a few to survive fires and reseed burn areas. Both species
require exposed soil and open sunlight to germinate and grow.
This slope, with varying amounts of light exposure and wetness,
provides many niches for wildlife. Watch and listen for bird life. Snags
and partially dead trees host woodpeckers, squirrels and many other
cavity-dwellers. The upturned trill of the Swainson's thrush rises from
forest tops, while the chattery song of the winter wren permeates the
shadowy forest depths.
A highlight of the trail is the stream crossing at .9 miles (1.4 km).
Here, especially on a hot day, is a place to rest and enjoy the coolness
and beauty of the stream and forest glade. Some of the large cedars are
over 500 years old.
The main attraction is this small, deep mountain lake. Created by an
ancient landslide, it is now a place of diverse life. Many insects skim
the surface, their larvae feeding in the rich ooze on the bottom. The
aquatic rough-skinned newt is a top order consumer. Sundew is another
fascinating life form. It is the insect eating plant found growing on
decaying floating logs.
At Pyramid Lake there has been little human influence on natural
cycles. Fish were never planted here. Pyramid Lake and surrounding lands
are protected as a "Research Natural Area" (RNA). RNAs are set
aside for the scientific study of natural processes and life systems.
Pyramid Lake is a place to visit, study, and enjoy. Camping is not
allowed in order to maintain the pristine quality of this special