Hiking Horsetail Falls on August 26, 1999

Hiking Horsetail Falls on August 26, 1999

Before smartphones could take good photographs it was hard to use a camera while hiking.

Most cameras were big and bulky and inconvenient to fish out of a pack. I’m not sure what camera I used here, I salvaged these photos and text from my old site which was


I took these photographs on August 26th, 1999 along Horsetail Falls in El Dorado County, California.

The falls are about seventy five miles from Sacramento, Califonia, near the top of Echo Summit on Highway 50. Since temperatures in Sacramento were forecast to hit 108 degrees on that Thursday, a hike at the 6,000 to 7,000 foot elevation was a good way for me to beat the heat.

Cataract near Hiway 50 This cataract is less than a half mile from the Highway 50 trailhead.

Horsetail falls in the distance

Signs along the way

A maintained trail exists for half the distance up the trail. You’re on your own after that.

Desolation boundary

The sign post at the boundary of the Desolation Wilderness Area. This is about one mile and a quarter from Highway 50. Everyone must fill out a form for a day use permit which is free.

Forest trail

Woods line the trail for much of the way.


Gotta like them ferns! Ferns

More waterfalls

These views are all along the upper falls. No maintained trail exists beyond the halfway point. People make their way up as best they can. In many places the best path is still slippery and dangerous. Wear heavy hiking boots.

You can’t drink the water safely, so be sure to bring at least two quarts of water per person on your hike, along with plenty of food.

It’s an hour and a half for very strong hikers to get to the top. Plan on taking two and a half hours at an easy pace. At least an hour and a half to get down.

Halfway up the trail and looking down

Looking down the falls.

Avalanche Lake

Avalanche Lake is at the top of the falls. Now you have to climb down. Take your time and watch your step!

By thomasfarley01

Business writer and graphic arts gadfly.

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