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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hiking
5 hours ago

Nice views of the valleys, very well maintained, well marked with some interesting rock formations. There’s a ditch that’s mostly filled in and looks like it’s possibly an old mine shaft. Easy hike, not too tough at all.

hiking
9 days ago

Road conditions up to the official trailhead are questionable; no snow removal during the winter months. Parking is available both at trailhead (currently closed) and alongside the road. Ice and snow remain on last 0.5 miles of road as of 4/9.

As others have stated, the trail begins on a rocky path. The rocks are cobble rather than pebbles or boulders. After warm rainfall and above-freezing spring temperatures, this trail was flooded under ~6 inches of water for a short section. Waterproof boots worked well. After Lily Lake, the trail is a mixture of cobble and paved, wide enough for an ATV but not quite a 4x4 trail. The immediate surroundings are poor compared to other Tahoe hikes.

Since there was significant snow accumulation over 7,000 feet, I turned back at Glen Alpine Falls rather than heading up to Grass Lake. Others have noted there's little to see after the falls. I didn't travel far enough to verify this, but based on satellite and heatmap, this seems correct. Assuming you park before the Lower Glen Alpine Falls, located right past the fire station, there are three main attractions.

The first is Lower Glen Alpine Falls, which can be reached by car and is a popular tourist attraction. Some call it the most popular waterfall in Tahoe (debatable, since Lower Eagle Falls commands attention). The second is Lily Lake, a swamp-like flooded basin that beautifully reflects Echo Peak. Lastly, the true Glen Alpine Falls, around 0.5 miles up the trail, is a rushing fall at the base of Tallac. Beyond that, there's Grass Lake an additional two miles further.

Even though the waterfalls are beautiful and Mount Tallac is always a surreal sight, this trail is little more than a decent outing. Paved portions and operational cabins/houses detract from the backcountry feel. Similarly, the two-mile section of relative uninterest combined with a wide track falter when compared to vicinity hikes, especially Aloha and Ralston. Keep in mind that I didn't hike the full trail, though, so take this review with a grain of salt.

hiking
11 days ago

Permit required to enter Desolation Wilderness (last 1/3 section of hike), parking available at trailhead during open season. As of 4/7, the trailhead is closed, and parking must be found elsewhere; there are some spots just off the highway to park.

After a deluge of rain powerful enough to trigger flood warnings for Tahoe and Yosemite, a waterfall hike seemed optimal. Paired with snowmelt from March storms, the American River was nearly flooding on the drive up from Sacramento. The highway was thankfully unaffected. There were multiple waterfalls active along the drive up, ranging from Bridal Veil Falls (El Dorado) to rushing redwood streams.

This rain managed to wash away a good portion of the snow below 8,000 feet. On the Pyramid Creek Trail, there were intermittent patches of snow between long sections of granite rock. At this point in the season, snowshoeing isn't an option, crampons won't do much, and hiking poles aren't required. However, the route up to Horsetail Falls in the latter third section of the hike isn't established, as snow covered the path for most of the season. We turned around before the waterfall due to both flooding and weather.

On 4/7, the water level was high enough to flood sections of forest and force us off the trail. The Cascades were incredible; the sheer force of the water was the greatest I've seen in Tahoe. Leading up to Horsetail Falls, the redwood forest was flooded by a seasonal stream pouring down from Peak 8141. Some route finding and stream crossings were required. This shouldn't be an issue in the summer months, but waterproof boots are always prudent.

For photography, there are four points of interest: the bend of highway 50 (rocky waterfall), Cascade Viewpoint, Desolation Wilderness Boundary (small waterfalls), and Horsetail Falls itself. Long exposure opportunities are prevalent and decent, while the immediate surroundings aren't as photogenic (still beautiful to the naked eye)!

mountain biking
12 days ago

Great trail...very good climb for the kids and Easy to follow.

Have hiked this a couple of times; went today and it is totally snowed in so snow shoes are a must. Last time I hiked it in the snow it was Spring Time so just enough melted off to where it was passable in hiking boots. Be prepared for a weird parking situation until the trail officially opens!

hiking
1 month ago

I will admit, we didn’t get the ascend part right, we were sort of all over the place! But what a great place to get lost. Appropriate hiking boots and an open mind are a must. The whole surroundings look like a painting, it’s so surreal.
Best advice: look for trail markers like stacked rocks, treaded paths and other giveaways because you could be easily deterred every 500 feet or so if you’re not sure what you’re looking for. The nice thing is, because you’re in a bowl like setting, you know which way is back to the start.
What a reward, though, when the waterfall is at full blast! Amazing experience and highly recommended.

Beautiful views! But the trail is fairly easy to lose.

2 months ago

Great trail to bike or hike for beginners. We took the bikes and finished in 45 minutes. We considered doing the loop at the top a few times, but the sun was setting. I wish we did. From the loop to the beginning of trail too only 8 minutes to descend, with 2 stops.

hiking
2 months ago

This was beautiful hike but I sure wish I had done it in spring. There was alot of snow and we kept losing the trail. We are experienced hikers and to so often lose the trail was frustrating. we had to keep pulling out the GPS.
The falls were amazing and parts of the hike was challenging for sure a good workout and breath taking views. strange it was right off the freeway. will do this one again with no snow.

Absolutely amazing❣️
One of my favorite local trails.

Great trail, easy to follow, not too steep. Fantastic views.

Beautiful views and easy access with markers throughout. Last 0.5 mile or so was covered in ice and snow so we turned around and made the trip back. A couple of small waterfalls are found along the path. We are avid hikers so we found this more easy than moderate. The trail is very open and wide the first mile or two then becomes a single track trail along the backside of the mountain.

I liked this trail a lot! It gives great views of the lake and western shore peaks. Hiked it today and it took me 3 hours to go to the end and back. As a primarily Appalachian hiker from TN I thought the trail was a good moderate level trail with little trail issues i.e. downed tree or erosion. One problem I encountered was right after the trailhead split with the Cali/Nevada line trail approx 1.5 miles in I lost the trail and spent 20 minutes in the brush trying to get back to trail. Otherwise great hike for a trail within walking distance from my South Tahoe hotel.

We hiked this trail up to the Castle Rock trail to some amazing views at Castle Rock. We had the trail to ourselves at 11am but by 130, there were a fair amount of hikers. Lots of good vistas of Tahoe and mountains beyond. Ice only in small parts, we handled it fine in hiking boots.

Beautiful views of Lake Tahoe. Lots of places to stop and observe. Great hike.

hiking
4 months ago

Beautiful hike all along the shore line!

Great views of the lake

hiking
4 months ago

Rough stone at the start, so wear sturdy shoes. Water had covered parts of the trail on 11/22 making it slow going as we had to hop across stones and logs, or go off the path to avoid the water. We only went for about a mile before turning back because the trail was difficult to navigate with dogs given the flooding.

backpacking
4 months ago

Great hike, and some climbing at the top of the falls. I've enjoyed going up Horsetail Falls to Pyramid Peak. The trail head is a little funky, staying by the water will help you stay on trail..

Nice trail! Beautiful views of Lake Tahoe... def worth it

hiking
5 months ago

Fun hike with beautiful views but the trail was hard to follow. Not very well marked. It was an adventure! We had a great time.

Great views and rewarding uphill climb. I hiked it mid -November and the weather was ideal.

Trail head can be hard to find at times but just follow the river and scramble up to the top!

Hiked this trail in mid September and the weather was a bit on the warm side (though a dip in Lake Tahoe afterward solved that!). The views of the lake are beautiful and I liked that you only have to go 1/3 up the trail to see them. There are several trails marked by color here so you don't have to take the same path up and down.

Visited once in the end of October 17, and it is very scenic and gorgeous.

Nice trail along Emerald Bay! Kind of just ends randomly

Good hike. You can get right next to the waterfall at the end.

Amazing

Loved it!! Great views at the top! Highly recommended. :)

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