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Horsetail Falls Trail

MODERATE 990 reviews
#1 of 90 trails in

Horsetail Falls Trail is a 3.1 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Twin Bridges, California that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, nature trips, and bird watching and is best used from June until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 3.1 miles Elevation Gain: 639 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dog friendly

kid friendly

hiking

nature trips

bird watching

forest

river

views

waterfall

wildlife

muddy

rocky

scramble

snow

fee

Please note: some users have reported that the parking lot is often closed in winter. Only the first mile is easily accessible as there is very steep exposed terrain after the falls. The Horsetail falls hike is a short hike with great views that gets you up close with this spectacular South Lake Tahoe waterfall. The hike starts at Twin Bridges Trailhead off of Highway 50 just past Strawberry. There is a $5.00 fee to park in the parking area at Twin Bridges. From the trailhead, you will follow Pyramid Creek Trail into Desolation Wilderness so a wilderness permit from the ranger station is required. The hike starts out moderate but quickly picks up elevation as you enter Desolation Wilderness and the Wilderness Boundary Trail. The last half mile of the hike can be difficult, as there is granite rock and boulders that require rock climbing and the trail is not well marked and hard to follow. Once you reach the first rapids/falls area there is a sign. The trail picks back up directly to the left of the sign. If in doubt after this point, stay closer to the water. Once at the falls, you have the option to continue on, however proceed with caution as there are slippery rocks Late spring and early summer may be the best times to experience Horsetail Falls, as the water flow is heaviest. However a hike up the Pyramid Creek trail to this spectacular waterfall is still a worthwhile experience at any time of the year.

hiking
off trail
rocky
scramble
5 days ago

hiking
no shade
off trail
rocky
9 days ago

hiking
no shade
off trail
rocky
scramble
13 days ago

Fun hike along the stream. Markings clear on partial trail; some “choose your own adventure” portions over big boulders. Shoes with good grip needed for the last 0.5 mile out to the falls.

hiking
rocky
scramble
16 days ago

Trail is great, spectacular views, a little closer to Sacramento than Tahoe proper. Trail is in good shape but not marked especially well. Just know that you have to wrap around the right side of the giant granite slab near the bottom of the hike and then scramble up some rocky portions to get to the falls. We took a 10-year-old dog and...well...we could practically hear her muttering “I’m too old for this @$#%!” Watch your footing near the falls and enjoy the view!!

hiking
20 days ago

Always a great hike in and out. Beautiful weather this time of year. There's really no way you can get lost.

hiking
26 days ago

Very nice hike, trail markings are lacking. The upper section is mainly rock climbing without any markings. other than that awesome hike.

hiking
rocky
scramble
27 days ago

One of my favorite hikes! Yay, they installed credit card machine now so if you don’t happen to have $8 cash for the fee you can charge it. Easy to get off trail, not clearly marked, but stay closer to the falls. My dog has made it to the permit area and bit beyond but it gets pretty tough after that. If you plan to go to the top leave your dog at home. Beautiful scenery and a fun challenging hike.

hiking
no shade
rocky
scramble
28 days ago

Get there early (before 9) if you don’t want it to be hot! If you plan on getting past the main tall waterfall be prepared to scramble a lot, it’s very dangerous, it’ll take you at least an hour from the mail falls. Nice hike, great views.

hiking
off trail
rocky
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

The fee has increased to $8. Plan to get there early if you're going on the weekend -- the parking lot gets full by the end of the morning. The trail can be hard to follow particularly down low, but I think it's worth a bit of confusion!

hiking
1 month ago

Rocky and easy to get off trail but regardless, navigating is pretty easy. $8 now

hiking
1 month ago

Awesome trail nothing too difficult until you reach the falls. Trail can be hard to see but as long as you are close to the river you should find your way just fine.

hiking
fee
rocky
1 month ago

The trail is hard to see and easy to lose. Lots of climbing up rocks but worth the hike once you get up to the top!

hiking
1 month ago

Very beautiful trail if you are looking for a great view of a waterfall. Parts of the trail was hard to follow due to the large rock formation. Recommend good grip shoes on this hike due to the slipper rock. Great hike we completed the hike in about 2 hours. Bathrooms at the head of the trail.

hiking
1 month ago

I would recommend this trail. Moderate hike. Trail is well maintained. Dog friendly.

hiking
1 month ago

This trail is as difficult as everyone says it is. The first couple miles up to the pools is easy, keep heading up and you’ll reach some potentially dangerous rock faces. You NEED to have the right shoes and equipment. We packed to camp so at times the extra weight made it feel dangerous. It’s all dangerous really, for a good portion of the trail up the falls, any misstep and you are done, lights out! We brought 5 kids up there with us ranging from 10 to 14, my adrenaline was pumping overtime checking on everyone and repeating the phrases “stay low”, “use your hands”, “one step a time” bla bla bla. Tip- wear gloves and use your hands to grab onto the rocks and those handy shrubs!! We made it up to top of the falls and swam, sun bathed and soaked in the breathtaking views. I’m not going to lie, at this point I was also very grateful for still being apart of this universe having avoided a Pocahontas plunge down the side of the falls. Once we composed ourselves, we set off again to find these amazing channels of streams that were weaving and flowing and just enchanting at dusk. If you’re a kid this area is really fun to run around, if you’re not a kid this area is really fun to run around!! We found a perfect hidden little island that I named Camp Endor(Why Camp Endor? I’m glad you asked...my children are like Ewoks sometimes, they prevent me from getting things done, they get into everything, break shit and sometimes I just can’t understand them). With the younger Ewoks were distracted we set up camp. No campfires allowed so we packed a stove. We brought our fishing gear and the guys fly fished for a bit, mostly for practice because we were running out of daylight but there IS fish in that lake! One of my favorite parts about camping in Tahoe are the stars at night. Of course satellite spotting competitions are a must, you might see a shooting star and you have an amazing view of the Milky Way. Tip- Check out the nasa website, it’ll tell you down to the minute where you might see a shooting star and where in the sky it will be. I’ll be honest. It was a very brutal hike for a one night trip. I would have liked to stay an extra night so we could explore, fish, frolic etc. The hike down isn’t nearly as bad. Yes, it’s just as dangerous but it’s not as strenuous. Again, use your hands and go slow. We were determined to not rush and take our time which really helped with keeping the kids from panicking. I also picked up a couple stragglers that were on their way down but shaken up by that rock face I mentioned earlier. Sweet gals! All in all the trip was fun and rewarding with stunning views and infinity pools overlooking the Sierra Nevadas. Total hiking time 4 hours up and 2 hours down with 3 adults 5 kids. Happy Hiking!

hiking
off trail
rocky
1 month ago

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