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!
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
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.
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.