Horsetail Falls, California


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.


  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?