Horsetail Falls, California

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Horsetail Falls in early June 2013

There are a number of waterfalls in the Lake Tahoe region, and I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface. When traveling by myself, I tend to visit those that are easy to find or are well traversed. And Horsetail Falls is both easy to find and well visited.

At ~800′ tall or so, that could explain why it’s relatively popular. When I arrived in late May, the sun was shining and the parking lot was full. So full that I had to park along a portion of dirt side-road to the east of the official parking area. Others were parked there, and there didn’t seem to be any signs indicating it wasn’t allowed (though if that changes, please follow posted signs). Even if you can’t find parking, you can still see the falls, as they’re so large!

And while there’s supposedly a clear trail to the falls, I must admit it felt more like most people wandered around the area. The trail that leads to the falls ends up at a wilderness boundary, and you must sign a book indicating you’re entering the wilderness area. That’s if you want to get up close and person with the falls. I decided after wandering around for a while that I had enjoyed the waterfall enough from afar, though in the future I might check it out closer now that I know the general direction to head. I felt that I had some pretty awesome views without getting truly up close and personal.

Directions:

  1. From South Lake Tahoe, take US-50 south. At the intersection of US-50 and CA-89, continue along US-50.
  2. After just a few miles, you’ll be descending pretty quickly and after a few rather sharp turns, on your left will be the parking area for the falls. (You’ll be able to see the falls even before you arrive, and the Horsetail Falls parking area is also clearly marked. (There may be a fee to enter the area.)
  3. From the parking area, head toward the falls, following the path toward the wilderness area if you’d like to see the falls up-close and personal.

Accessibility: 7/10
Height: ~790′
Hike: ~3 miles round-trip (I probably only walked 2 miles or so)

Where in the World is Horsetail Falls?

Kings Canyon Falls, Nevada

I love finding waterfalls in geographic locations that don’t necessarily conjure up the thought of waterfalls. I’ve mentioned before that Nevada is one of those places for me. There are waterfalls for those who look, though! There are a number in the area near Las Vegas (including First Creek and Lost Creek Falls), and one of my followers let me know about waterfalls in Lamoille Canyon near Elko (which I have added to my list of places to visit). If you live in the Reno/Carson City area, there are a few waterfalls near the cities, including the previously mentioned Hunter Creek Falls. In Carson City, there is also Kings Canyon Falls, a small, but beautiful and easy-to-visit waterfall.

It’s a very easy drive outside of Carson City’s downtown area (though you are still officially in Carson City based on boundaries). At the parking area, you hike up mildly steep switchbacks for just over 1/4 of a mile to reach the falls. After hiking almost 6 miles round trip in warmer conditions to see Hunter Creek Falls earlier that day, the short hike in the cool shade of the evening was very enjoyable. (I was a bit cold, actually!) It’s not a big waterfall, about 30′ or so, but it’s worth a detour. In late May, there was water flowing, though it might dry up as it gets warmer in July and August. When it’s flowing, though, I’m guessing it’s rather popular, as there were a surprising number of people hiking to the falls.

Directions:

  1. In Carson City, the main road running north/south is NV-529.
  2. The road that leads to the falls starts of as West King Street, but it doesn’t directly connect with NV-529. You first have to turn on a street running parallel to it (W Musser if coming from the north or W 2nd Street if coming from the south would work), and then you turn left or right on a road such as S Curry Street to get to West King Street. (Convoluted, I know…) Then turn heading west onto West King Street. (It helps to look at a map or have a GPS here.)
  3. Just keep going west along W King Street. It turns into Kings Canyon Road (which is also numbered as National Forest Road 39). You don’t keep driving on this road until it ends, but instead stop at the parking area for the falls, just under 3 miles from NV-529. This area is rather large, and there is signage indicating you’re in the correct area. (You shouldn’t be driving very far along dirt road…It’s mostly paved.)
  4. Hike to the falls. There was a dirt path with switchbacks that led up to the falls. (There may be another route that also leads to the falls.)

Accessibility: 7/10 (easy/moderate, mildly steep, but short!)
Height: 30′
Length of Hike: 0.5 miles round-trip

Kings Canyon Falls in late May 2013

Where in the World is Kings Canyon Falls?

Meeks Creek Falls, California

In the search for waterfalls, there are three main outcomes: 1) You find the waterfall you’re looking for; 2) You don’t find the waterfall at all; or 3) You find something different than what you were looking for. Outcome 1 has happened a lot, and Outcome 2 has happened more than one might expect. Option 3 happens every once in a while, and Meeks Creek Falls happens to be one of those examples.

The other waterfalls that were more popular were clearly more popular the weekend I visited the Tahoe area! Eagle Falls was extremely busy, so I didn’t stop, and instead decided to try Meeks Creek Falls. As I started on the hike, I can clearly remember that it was warm (without much shade) and that the horse flies (or whatever pest they were) were out in force. After about the first mile, though, you enter a more wooded area, it cools down, and the flies aren’t as abundant.

After that first mile, you start hiking uphill, and you’re very close to Meeks Creek. And apparently somewhere along the distance I hiked is a rather tall (85′ or so) waterfall. I had absolutely no luck finding this waterfall. I HEARD waterfalls, but couldn’t seem to find any trail that led to the main objective. (There are no signs to the falls.) So I kept hiking and hiking, probably more than I needed to. I’m one of those hikers that need to have a goal, and once I felt the goal was out of reach, I got bored. So I turned around.

I was still convinced to find something, though, and luckily Meeks Creek has a lot of drops on it! I found one ~20′ waterfall, and it might have continued on downstream, though I wouldn’t have any clue.  There was another ~8′ drop I found, though I don’t remember if it was above or below the first fall. I was just cool with finding something. The moral of the story…Who knows?

Directions:

  1. From South Lake Tahoe, take CA-89 heading northwest.
  2. About 16 miles from the point you started along CA-89, you will come to the Meeks Bay Resort (on your right). Just across from this is the Meeks Bay Trailhead (on your left).
  3. Park in this area, which has a lot of spaces along the highway. You’ll find the start of the trail pretty easily. I’m not sure how long the distance to the main waterfall is…I probably walked 5 or so miles round-trip.

Accessibility: 6/10 (moderate)
Height: 20′
Length of Hike: ~5 miles round-trip

A drop on Meeks Creek (late May 2013)

Another drop on Meeks Creek

Where in the World is Meeks Creek Falls?