Explore El Dorado National Forest - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

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on Cascade Falls Trail

hiking
20 hours ago

Much of trail is rocky so need to be agile

Easy hike. Great for the kids.

It was a great hike. Took my 8 year old and while it was shorter, the hills made it a great workout. She made it just fine! Beautiful view, go early to avoid crowds.

hiking
3 days ago

This trail was really nice. Easy to follow and most driving on paved road to get there. The water was not flowing like crazy (it's July, so . . .), but there were plenty of pools to splash in and get our feet/legs wet. The only reason I dropped it to 4 stars was that there were a lot of places with broken glass lying around, and I had concerns about our dog. She was fine, but it was not a pleasant part of the trip.

I haven't been back here for many years, but it's still the same..and that is a great thing! (Considering how much foot traffic this trail gets)
Nice and easy trail to the Falls.

Easy, lovely trail. Views of the lake and once you reach the falls you can get right up to them. Plenty of space to hang out by the falls and enjoy the views or even picnic.

absolutely amazing!

5 days ago

love this trail! take a bathing suit

backpacking
6 days ago

Backpacked to Island Lake July 6-8 and loved it. The area is super beautiful and is only a 3-4 mile hike from the trailhead. One day we did a day hike up to Mount Price and get a look at Lake Aloha. Overall a great place for a low mileage backpacking trip! Here is my full report with pics: https://backpackersreview.wordpress.com/trip-reports/desolation-wilderness-twin-lakes/

Clearly the trail is hard to find. I was off course a few times. Keep the river to your right as you go up and on your left as you come back down.
However, the scenery more than made up for that. The river flowing by on the right as you go up toward the falls was awesome. The sounds of this river flowing is hard to describe. As you get further up you will see the Horsetail Falls flowing from the top and you can hear that as well.

6 days ago

beautiful hike and and great swimming holes. hardly anyone out there on Monday. The waters low but the falls are still flowing and the pools are safe for kids. what a wonderful day!!

Beautiful! Where a good pair of boots

backpacking
7 days ago

Backpacked in on the 3rd and out on the 5th. Wrights Lake Road is now open again for access, so you don't need to go through Ice House Road. it's a much shorter drive to and from US50 from Wrights Lake Road to the trailhead. The trail is pretty clearly marked, and parts where it wasn't, we went ahead and rebuilt some of the cairns that had appeared to have fallen apart. When you get closer to the lake, there are 2 paths that will take you on either side of the lake. Do not attempt to go around the lake, since there are unstable boulders and no clearly defined path. Instead, go back to the area near the shallow water fall just below the lake, and go in either direction, you should be able to find the trails easily from this point. I brought my ultralight fishing gear and caught a lot of brook trout. Luckily the fishing was good because we had left a few packs of food at home so we were a bit short. There wasn't much in the way of wildlife up there, but we saw some marmots and chipmunks. The wind up there was pretty bad over the few days, but otherwise it was a beautiful, relaxing time at this less populated lake in Desolation Wilderness.

nature at its best!

hiking
8 days ago

Love this hike! We’ve been here twice in the past two years in early July and we absolutely love it! The trail isn’t marked all that well, but that’s part of the fun! The view from the top is amazing! We found a nice pool for the kids to cool off on the way down. Overall a great hike!

Easy hike until you get to the beginning of the falls and then it gets pretty technical in the rocks for younger kids. With little kids (7 yo) we found Sawmill Creek Trail to be a lot easier. At the very end you can cross over and go straight up to the falls and swimming hole.

I would definitely rate this as hard, especially because the trail from Hemlock to Smith is marked as "primitive." I found it hard to catch the spot where you take a hard left up into the rocks. I wasn't sure if I was off trail, so I sat down until I saw someone else arrived who used their GPS to find the trail. After being at the top I came back down to find two hikers lost in the same spot that I was. Just keep an eye out for stacked rocks to the left to find that final steep ascent.

The parking lot at the trail head was open as of 7/7/18. The wildflowers were incredible! And the water running down beside the first part of the trail was serene. I dunked in at Smith Lake and felt so refreshed. Will be coming back soon to see it again.

on Island and Twin Lakes

9 days ago

Beware the trail as pictured past Twin Lakes dissolves into a rocky hard scramble and unsafe water crossing trying to get back to Twin Lakes. I wouldn't recommend it for others to follow.

Lovely early summer hike up a rocky steppe and along a rushing mountain stream, capped by a beautiful waterfall.

Wildflowers are blooming everywhere right now. Don’t forget bug spray!

I hiked this early June, and while it seemed impossible the views were amazing. The terrain was a bit rough and I recommend hiking boots for sure!

easy to moderate trail
beautiful views
2 water falls

Great hike with really cool views. It is challenging that the trail is not marked. It is still fun though!

So awesome and surprisingly beautiful

This was an awesome hike! Easy enough for your dog, and great exercise for yourself. The water fall is beautiful and there’s a few good spots to swim in, as well.

Love all of the beautiful views on this trail!

hiking
15 days ago

We enjoyed the walk and the amazing views.
A bit rocky at times, walking sticks are very helpful.

things were clearly labeled and it smelled like Christmas tree

hiking
17 days ago

The trail is not well marked at all (it's easy to lose the trail right from the start!) but fortunately there's multiple ways to get to the same point and you can follow the pink ribbons in the trees. Be prepared for walking on rocky terrain and the occasional log. The last 0.5 miles in Desolation Wilderness is the steepest and most uneven part but the view at the end is great!

hiking
18 days ago

This trail was absolutely beautiful last Sunday! The granite slabs were well-marked with rock piles to follow until the trail started again on the other side, and if you stray off on accident you can just look for the closest cairn or line of rocks. Bring lots of water and sunscreen as much of the trail is exposed — better yet, bring a water filter and drink from the fresh waterfalls!
As of last Sunday, Wrights Lake Road was open from Highway 50 to the overflow parking lot by the camping area, so there’s an additional 3/4 mile hike from there to the trailhead. The parks crew at the trailhead said the road set to be fully open by this weekend.

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