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Horsetail Falls, Lake Tahoe

A three mile round-trip hike gets you up close with this spectacular Tahoe waterfall.

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Rating: 4 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 3 miles
Duration: 1-3 hours
Family Friendly

Overview:  Late spring and early summer may be the best times to experience Horsetail Falls, but a hike up the Pyramid Creek trail to this... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Trailhead

The parking lot for this popular trail is often full, so we advise either getting here early or simply getting lucky. There's drinking water available here next to the restroom block, which you must pass to reach the head of the trail.

Begin your hike here, heading into woodland and almost immediately you'll reach the babbling Pyramid Creek. ... More

2. [JCT] Pyramid Creek Loop Junction

We recommend a right turn at this junction in the direction of Cascade Vista. Whilst this route isn't the most direct way of reaching the waterfall it does afford some great views and a little more variety.

3. Cascade Vista

There's much more to this trail than just Horsetail Falls, and Cascade Vista is a great example. Torrents of water rush past you down a smooth granite face before turning sharply down towards the valley.

Cascade Vista also has a stunning backdrop - a huge glaciated valley bowl which reminds us of Yosemite Valley, and the sharp point of Lovers... More

4. Follow Pyramid Creek Trail

Trail-finding can be difficult in this section of the hike since it traverses over bald expanses of granite. Our recommended outbound route roughly follows alongside the creek for much of the initial loop before meeting up with the out-and-back section of the trail.

5. [JCT] Pyramid Creek Trail

Trailfinding can still be difficult at this point, but with any luck you should be able to find this junction marker.

The good news is that the out-and-back route from here to the waterfall is fairly well defined, so should you come across it before you find the junction marker, then simply turn and follow it in the direction of the waterfall.

6. Desolation Wilderness

Day-hikes into the Desolation Wilderness require self-registration at this location. Permits and pencils should be readily available and there is no cost to register.

Once in Desolation Wilderness you will trek up the canyon towards the falls. The trail sticks close to the creek, so check yourself if you begin to stray to the West.

Nearing the falls, the canyon narrows and the terrain becomes much steeper forcing the rocky trail closer to the creek. The trail gets quite rugged and requires navigation over boulders, granite slabs and around unruly bushes.

There is no true end-point to this hike since you can continue as far up the falls as you wish (and as trail conditions ... More