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General Information: This is a popular summer destination for hikers coming from Sacramento or the Bay Area. It is a short, but ever steepening hike along the Pyramid Creek drainage toward the magnificent Horsetail Falls. It is a short hike unless you are confident enough to tackle the steep rock slabs as you approach Horsetail Falls. People have been hurt here trying to reach the actual falls, so caution is advised. The shortness of this hike prevents us from giving it a higher rating as a a day hike, but it certainly has fine views and is worth visiting. It is also one of the possible routes up Pyramid Peak.

Where To Start: The hike starts at the sweeping curve at Twin Bridges just past the tiny town of Strawberry on Highway 50. Caltrans has just finished building a large parking area just to the west of the trailhead.

Trail Description: Pick up the trail just west of Pyramid Creek. There are several options, including a gentle view loop perfect for families, but to get as close to Horsetail Falls as possible, choose the "Wilderness Boundary" trail. A few hundred yards further you will have to stop and fill out a wilderness permit (no fee for day hikes).

Click here to view a map and elevation profile.

There are several splinter trails here and some are better than others, although they all lead to the same place. Try to follow the largest trail. In the late summer and fall when the creek is lower, the trail close to the stream is very pleasant and gives you some spectacular views both up towards Horsetail and back to the south across the American River Canyon. There are several deep, cold pools to swim in when the water is low, but do not attempt to swim if the water is flowing fast!

The trail will eventually disappear into steep rock slabs and for most people that is as far as you can go. If you are confident in your climbing abilities, it is possible to continue up to the top of the waterfall and even back to the fine lakes above Horsetail, including Avalanche, Ropi, Pyramid, Desolation and even Lake of the Woods. This is fantastic, mostly off-trail hiking not recommended for anyone but advanced hikers competent in back country travel.

Environmental Concerns: This trail is popular and gets a lot of summer use. Please dispose of waste at least 200 yards from any water being sure to bury it at least 6 inches deep. Giardia is a common water parasite that is present in all Sierra lakes and streams so be sure to filter, treat or boil water.

Advisory: People are seriously injured every year when they overestimate their climbing ability and fall down the rock slabs. The rock near the stream and especially near the falls is often treacherously slippery even if it is not wet. In the spring, Horsetail Falls is a thundering torrent and if you fall into the river, you will die.

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