Horsetail Falls - Hiking
A spillway of snowmelt from the peaks of Desolation Wilderness, Horsetail Falls is fullest in late spring/early summer. Crossing large granite boulders and walking beneath fragrant pines, the hike to Horsetail falls has something for everyone.
It is an approximate 3 mile round trip from the parking lot to the base of the falls. The climb to the top will add a vertical, three quarters of a mile, at minimum.
Destination Distance From Downtown
The trail crosses large sections of naked granite, making it easy to lose track of the trail. During the summer, when the area is well-traveled, the hike to the base of the waterfalls is a moderate hike. Those who continue forward following cairns up the left side of the waterfall are in for a ton of rock scrambling and a challenging climb.
Time To Complete
The hike to the base of the falls and back will take approximately 2 hours for the motivated hiker. If you take on the added challenge of climbing the approximate 800 feet (in less than a half mile) to the top of the falls, it will more than double your time. To be certain, it is a haul calculating at a 42% grade, but worthwhile for the hearty adventurer.
Summer and Fall
Peak season is late spring/early summer when much of the snow has melted away from the sloping walls of the u-shaped canyon, leaving the falls full and trails accessible.
On Leash Only
Dogs are allowed on the trail with a leash. However, we strongly recommend leaving your pup at home if you intend to get near the falls or hike to the top. The climb is intense and dangerous for dogs. On one trip, we saw a dog lose their footing on the slippery rocks and fall into the falls. This is not something you forget easily, and as a result, we leave our trail dogs at home.
Parking is limited and requires a $5.00, self-registered parking permit. There are pit and flush toilets at the trailhead. Day hikes into Desolation Wilderness require a self-registered wilderness permit, available by the information sign at the trailhead.