Horsetail Falls

Placerville, California

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No proper trail leads to the giant spill of whitewater that pours from the heights of the Desolation Wilderness above Twin Bridges, but the path along Pyramid Creek offers great views of the waterfall, as well as an up-close visit to a lovely cataract. Though visible from US 50 as you descend a switchback from Echo Summit to Twin Bridges—in fact, a traffic stopper in peak season—Horsetail Falls is relatively remote. No established trail leads directly to the base or to the summit, which is high in the Desolation Wilderness. But the trail along Pyramid Creek offers great views of the waterfall, and the creek rocks with excitement when flush with meltwater. Pyramid Creek, Horsetail Falls, and the cascades run year-round, fed by outflows from alpine lakes high in the wilderness, including Avalanche Lake, Pitt Lake, Ropi Lake, and Lake of the Woods. Only the top few tiers of the falls can be seen from the trail.
Hiking Waterfalls in Northern California

DESCRIPTION FROM:

Hiking Waterfalls in Northern California

by Tracy Salcedo-Chourré (Falcon Guides)

No proper trail leads to the giant spill of whitewater that pours from the heights of the Desolation Wilderness above Twin Bridges, but the path along Pyramid Creek offers great views of the waterfall, as well as an up-close visit to a lovely cataract. Though visible from US 50 as you descend a switchback from Echo Summit to Twin Bridges—in fact, a traffic stopper in peak season—Horsetail Falls is relatively remote. No established trail leads directly to the base or to the summit, which is high in the Desolation Wilderness.

But the trail along Pyramid Creek offers great views of the
waterfall, and the creek rocks with excitement when flush with meltwater. Pyramid Creek, Horsetail Falls, and the cascades run year-round, fed by outflows from alpine lakes high in the wilderness, including Avalanche Lake, Pitt Lake, Ropi Lake, and Lake of the Woods. Only the top few tiers of the falls can be seen from the trail.

© 2015 Tracy Salcedo-Chourré/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.

Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Placerville
Distance: 2.5
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Skill Level: Moderate
Duration: 3-4 hours
Season: Year-round
Features: Waterfalls
Local Contacts: Eldorado National Forest, Forest Supervisor’s Office, 100 Forni Rd., Placerville, CA 95667; (530) 622-5061; www.fs.usda.gov/main/eldorado/home
Local Maps: USGS Echo Lake CA
Driving Directions: Directions to Horsetail Falls

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Apr 2018