Lake Tahoe is one of the most beautiful natural structures in the world. Surrounded by snowcapped mountains and its crystal clear water, brings millions per year to see its priceless views. From the cliffs at Emerald Bay and the beaches around the lake, Tahoe provides the top of line sights just steps from its shores. There is however one exception to this, waterfalls. Emerald Bay and South Tahoe both have spectacular waterfalls. Neither, however, compare to Horsetail Falls.
Just a few miles west of South Lake Tahoe on U.S. Highway 50, you will find the best waterfall in the Lake Tahoe area. If you are traveling to the falls you will find a turnout and parking just past Twin Bridges, near Sierra at Tahoe Ski Resort. The trailhead to Horsetail Falls along Pyramid Creek and is just east of the parking lot. There are multiple paths that can be taken to get to the base of the falls. Be aware the trails to the base are busy with visitors from Sacramento and the Bay area. I have taken multiple paths, both marked and unmarked, and each has its own excitement. You have to make sure however you stay on the west side of the creek during your ascent.
The trail to the base of the falls is about 1.5 miles. On your way up make sure to explore and to stop at the wire bridge. When you reach the base this will be a busy area because most think this is where the trail ends. I suggest however you go further and go all the way to the top. There are two ways to get around the 9ft rock wall, which marks the end of the traditional trail. You can either climb the wall in multiple areas or go right and walk around it. If you chose to go right be careful because this is next to the edge of the falls and is usually wet. Once you get by the wall, there is a trail but if you can’t find it, just head up the mountain and make your own.
The trek up the mountain should not be taken lightly. It is only a few miles long but it is very steep with constant bouldering. This is rated moderate/difficult but it is more difficult than most difficult trails in the area. On your way up be sure to stay hydrated and wear sunscreen because there is little to no cover from the sun. The hike up the mountain will take you anywhere between 40 minutes to an hour and a half. You will be exhausted when you reach the top but, the views are worth it.
The view at the top looks over the whole valley and you can see “Lover’s Point” and Sierra at Tahoe. This is one of my favorite views in the Sierras. In addition, at the top of the mountain there is a small lake and creek that flow into the waterfall.
You can swim here but be safe and stay a good distance away from the fall. If you would like to keep going keep falling the creek and you will reach the Tahoe Rim Trail. If you are backpacking there are some great areas to camp for the night.
Photos are my own