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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, walking, nature trips, and birding 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

birding

hiking

nature trips

walking

forest

river

views

waterfall

wildlife

muddy

rocky

scramble

snow

[As of May 2018, some users have reported that the parking lot is 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.

13 days ago

Rough for a beginner. Def need to have some semblance of fitness before doing this trail. Awesome photo ops. Did this trail 2 weeks ago before the snow came. Currently has a ‘Closed for Season’ sign up. Will go back when I’m in Chuck. Norris shape and it re-opens.

18 days ago

The trail is seemingly impossible to follow, especially on the way down. The hike was definitely fun (lots of scrambling and adventuring on the rocks) and I would do it again, but it only gets 3 stars because the "trail" was so hard to follow.

1 month ago

Definitely a scenic hike. Had a lot of different pools to explore and involves a bit of climbing. Great for a quick trip to a waterfall.

hiking
1 month ago

If you're an avid hiker, this is an easy trail. If you're new to it, moderate. Beautiful hike taking you through the forest of mixed trees of golden Aspen , pine and fur and alongside trickling creek and calming pools of water. Plenty of places to stop along the trail to hike in a little bit to have a picnic lunch by one of the many water pools.

The trail is not easy to follow but it's not hard to get back on when you realize you're going the wrong way. Just make sure the creek is to the right of you. As long as you can hear it, you're good. When you are almost to the falls, you'll be climbing up and over boulders. Make sure you have appropriate shoes that have good traction.

This trail is doable in runners or cross-trainers but the terrain is a bit tricky. Rocks, sticks, logs and one small part of trail where you're walking over a pooled water area covered with logs. I would recommend shoes that have ankle support. If you aren't careful, you can easily roll your ankles. I did this in trail running shoes and was fine.

1 month ago

Beautiful hike!! The trail is very hard to follow but it doesn’t really matter, it is very difficult to get lost! Just follow the creek and you won’t get lost. This was a very fun hike, not too difficult at all and lots of area to explore. We ended up taking the very low creek/river bed back to the trailhead and it was a great way to take back. Beautiful and fun!

hiking
1 month ago

Super fun bouldering toward the upper part of the falls. The trail is not always real obvious, but you’re always in cell service and GPS works great. Lots of friendly people on the trail, too. The lower part of the trail is pretty shady and there are a lot of picture perfect places to stop along the way.

1 month ago

Best in winter/spring when the falls are flowing. Trail is a little difficult to follow.
Views are stunning at the top.

hiking
2 months ago

Was hard to follow at times. Loved the ability to stop and enjoy the water on the way back. Got caught in a little rain. Be careful! Rocks became slick pretty quickly.

hiking
2 months ago

Awesome hike! Trail can be difficult to follow but well worth the time.

hiking
2 months ago

Beautiful! One of my favorite hikes. You can either stop once you get to the falls or keep going and climb up to the top to Avalanche Lake and beyond. I’ve done this hike 3 times now and I will still keep coming back!

hiking
2 months ago

We loved this one! The trail is hard to follow but there is so many outcroppings to explore and climb you dont really mind losing the trail. There were enough people coming back to point us in the right direction.

2 months ago

this us one of my favorite places to go, especially if you climb to the top of the falls and hike back. it's like a little oasis. you never run out of exploring options.

2 months ago

Beautiful hike! Totally worth it, especially if you keep going above the falls to Avalanche Lake. The extended hike up to the lake is hard (climbing over boulders at a very steep incline). There are absolutely no trail markers which is why I gave it 4 vs 5 stars.

2 months ago

so fun!

3 months ago

awesome hike!!

3 months ago

Son and I tackled what we have been driving by for 20 years. You know you’re at the top when you find the lake. Absolutely breathtaking!

hiking
3 months ago

Beautiful hike! The trail is hard to follow but follow the water and you’ll be fine!. We were worried it would be overly crowded but it was perfect. We brought our dog (border collie) and she loved it. There are some steep parts, so be sure to wear shoes with a good tread.

hiking
3 months ago

Definitely recommend this hike with breath taking nature

3 months ago

This trail is terrible marked but the views make it worth it. You see several waterfalls. After you get so far with the water on your right.... head left up the hill and go as far as you want. The Granite stone is gigantuous and can be overwhelming. But you will never see anything like it again.

hiking
3 months ago

Very nice but the trail can be hard to find at times. Definitely worth the trek in.

3 months ago

Terribly marked. Fairly easy. Pretty crowded on weekend. We arrived at lot around 945am and got one of last parking spots. Great views.

hiking
3 months ago

Trail poorly marked but as long as you keep river to the right of you as you ascend to waterfall you will be ok. Nice spots along the way to enjoy the river. The waterfall is beautiful!

hiking
3 months ago

Did this trail on 8/20/18 and it was fairly easy to hike and beautiful. There are several places safe enough and deep enough to swim in. Took my 4 year old daughter and she loved it.

There is no true end to this hike I decided to turn back around when I realized the trail got too steep and difficult to navigate with my 4 year old.

Parking gets pretty full after 9:30 AM so be early.

hiking
3 months ago

This is a must do hike when the waterfall is flowing strong! The trail can be pretty unmarked at times, but it was never difficult to find which way to go. Just keep the river on your right side going in. The trail has minimal shade, but is very scenic the entire length, with huge granite faces and cliff-sides. The waterfall is breathtaking and there are some great pools to swim in for those who are willing to brave the cold water. The hike was not difficult, but I can see it being a possible problem if bringing dogs, due to the rocks towards the end of the route.

hiking
3 months ago

Beautiful hike, not terribly well marked, but easy to find your way up to the falls if you’ve got a sense of adventure.

3 months ago

Absolutely amazing! Stunning views and plenty of places to stop and just relax next to the falls! I highly recommend it!

hiking
3 months ago

Beautiful views and waterfalls! The trail was tough to follow at a couple spots. watch for logs and rocks that help guide you. We started about 8:30 am. By the time we were heading down it had gotten pretty crowded, but the way up was peaceful.

hiking
3 months ago

This hike is very beautiful with lots of trees, places near the river to rest, and of course the waterfall. The trail is poorly marked but there is a dirt path that starts from the Tahoe basin sign that first directs you into the parking lot and that leads all the way up. Lots of granite slabs to climb, and if you lose the trail, it's mostly fine as long as you aim towards the waterfall. Along the way you should pass the desolation wilderness trailhead, and that trail is fairly easy to follow.

3 months ago

Beautiful terrain that vacillated between forested shade and granite slabs to bouldering cascades at the top.

hiking
4 months ago

Best hike by far perfect not too long! Lots of beautiful views! Love it!

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