Explore the most popular river trails in El Dorado National Forest with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

hiking
2 days ago

The trailhead was difficult to find and did not have a sign specifically saying that it was for the One Eye Creek Trail. From what I could tell, there were two different options. Either you could park on the side of the paved road and walk in about a mile and a half to the trailhead, or you could drive on the unpaved road (after May 1) and park at a little random patch right at the trailhead. The only indication that you are at a trailhead is a post in the ground with a symbol featuring hikers.

A good amount of the trail was not maintained, so definitely make sure to wear thick hiking pants. We got pretty scratched up. Also make sure to bring mosquito repellant. We could not figure out how to get to the waterfall, but did enjoy a nice lunch down by the creek.

backpacking
2 days ago

Conditions as of 5/23/2018: super duper soupy. And are established trails always this poorly marked around here? Or maybe their just more obvious when they’re not flooded. No worries; hard to get truly lost in that area anyhow.

I got good and wet on my way to Sylvia, spent a day drying out and soaking in the beautiful landscape, then decided to summit Pyramid from the West, starting just north of (not next to) Sylvia. That was fun. But FYI the slop starts very early into Lyons from parking. If you’re thinking “maybe it’s just this area; it’ll get better” then you’re very sadly mistaken. The Lyons trail is essentially a babbling brook all the way through. Even the trails side-stepping the regular “trail” were much soggier today than they were on my way in 2 days ago. I was wearing old beat-up Saucony Peregrine trail shoes with microspikes for the summit. My feet were totally soaked and freezing from start to finish every day. lol - somehow, having that whole beautiful place to myself made up for it.

Summary: look elsewhere until things dry out a bit, or just come prepared for ankle-shin deep slogs all the way to the remaining snow pack.

I never grow tired of this hike! we hiked two days ago, got caught in a bit of hail and rain but the falls were incredible and it was still a wonderful day.

Not great for hiking as you get further on the trail. It is overrun by poison oak and blackberry bushes. We were not able to complete the hike even though we wanted to. Bummer since we drove all the way from Sacramento.

The trail isn’t so much of a trail as a random area to explore. From the parking lot to the wilderness entrance is pretty straight forward. After that it’s a bit of a free for all. I ended up off trail a few times on the way out, and ignored it completely on the way back. I stopped before reaching the base as there was no one in sight and I had difficulty figuring out where to hike that wasn’t full of brush. Gorgeous views out there, but maybe bring a pair of pants if you wander off trail (wherever that dang thing was). Maybe next time I’ll figure it out and make it to the top. Recommend a hiking buddy due to the lose rock and granite climbing that can get dicey.

The prettiest waterfall I’ve ever seen. The further you I go the harder It gets, so worth every step. Got super close to the top.

Absolutely stunning. Our favorite hike so far!

It sucked. I wouldn’t recommend going.

Trail conditions: 5/13/18

Trail is wet and sloppy from melt off with patches of snow below 7,700 ft (full coverage above). There are also a few downed trees blocking the trail.

0-3 miles: Wet and sloppy, with some small patches of snow.
3-4 miles: Larger patches of snow. Easy to lose trail if not paying attention.
4.5 miles: Trail completely covered by snow.

Overall the trail to Sylvia is doable, but the last 2 miles are slow going. Also, make sure to wear waterproof boots!

What an adventure! This was one of those days that I wouldn't mind living again! My heart is so full from this experience! Definitely feeling blessed today!

hiking
20 days ago

Trail (though poorly marked) finds its way to a gorgeous view of southern Lake Tahoe and the falls. I can imagine that during the summer months, the trail can be brutal without much shade.

Moderate grade, a Little Rock scrambling towards the end. Grabbed a seat up top and picnicked with the waterfall. As others have said, trail is poorly marked which is surprising for the amount of traffic it gets! Saw lots of dogs. Only wildlife we saw was some blue jays and one lizard. Easy afternoon hike, would do again.

This trail was a lot of fun, though easily lost at times. It's well trafficked, so if you aren't sure where the trail continues along one of the large granite slabs, it's worth the time to look around, as people may head toward you, or you will be able to see the trail as it leaves the slab. The upper reaches get pretty steep, so good shoes are a must. Bring lunch, and eat it in the mist of the falls for a refreshing break before heading back.

Update 04/22/18: The parking lot is closed and the signage says that place is closed for the season. No roadside parking allowed, hence, I couldnt do this trail. Sad as I was looking forward to do the hike.

hiking
1 month 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)!

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!

backpacking
2 months ago

Can feel like one long slog. Best as an overnight backpack. Have used the route to Sylvia several times over the past 20 years as a tuneup for long high altitude climb approaches. Dog poop can be problematic so watch your step.

hiking
2 months 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.

hiking
3 months ago

A bit of noisy disruption at the beginning of the hike. Tractors tearing down burned trees that are probably a falling risk.. Beautiful hike though, I would say very slightly moderate.. pretty easy hike. The incline on your initial way back to the Trailhead is a little struggle and then pretty easy all the way back!

hiking
3 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.

camping
5 months ago

Hard! 8 miles 1 way. plan on camping at upper hell hole when going here. be prepared for a lot of up and down stretches. we called them stairways to hell. when you reach the campground it becomes heaven. spent a week here. lake was way low but plenty of fun with the river. recommend boating to upper hell hole not hiking

hiking
5 months ago

This is one of those trails which are are more about the journey than the destination. The lake itself is pretty meh. There are some granite cliffs next to the lake which are fascinating and very Yosemite-esque. I went on 11/26/17. There was a snowstorm the week before but the trail was clear. It is very hard to follow and there was swampy land and some water on the trail. So make sure you wear trail boots and socks. The ice ponds along the trail at this time were fascinating.

backpacking
6 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..

snowshoeing
6 months ago

Due this trail being so popular and short, I have tried to do this trail in the winter months.
The first time in early 2017 we were unable to complete the trail due to so much snow on the ground and high water.
This time we hit it just right! Headed up right after a storm that dumped snow only above 6000' and maybe 6 to 8" of fresh powder.
I do not suggest attempting this trail when snow is deep. To many areas where avalanches may occur. There is a ton of water on the trail so bring your tall boots.
The scenery was awesome!
Our tracks are a little off due to the snow cover but managed to stay on track better on the back half.

hiking
6 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.

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

hiking
6 months ago

Nice day hike not too far from Sacramento. Easy grade throughout the hike, until just before reaching Lyons Lake. The trail up to the lake is steep but short and the lake was spectacular. We had the trail to ourselves for the entire ten mile out and back in mid week in early October. This trail appears like it would be pretty soupy early in the season, so one probably more enjoyable for most later in the season.

hiking
6 months ago

I would rate this trail as fairly easy - not moderate. Trail is a little difficult to follow in spots. A couple of weeks ago would have been better for fall colors. Very nice hike.

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