Mary West: Exploring Pyramid Creek Loop Trail
Pyramid Creek Loop Trail is a 3.3-mile loop at the base of Horsetail Falls near Twin Bridges in El Dorado County. My husband Micah and I climbed to the top back in our 20s. We returned to the lake above the falls in our 30s. We celebrated our wedding anniversary with a hike in the area and found the perfect spot for our picnic lunch at one of the many small waterfalls that spill into pools with ample seating on the smooth granite stones.
If you have traveled Highway 50 around Twin Bridges you have probably seen the white ribbon of snow runoff floating majestically down the mountain side, maybe you have even thought about making the trip.
A $5 U.S. Forest Service day use fee for parking is required and parking is limited. The trail loosely follows Pyramid Creek straight up the mountain. The sound of running water and picturesque waterfalls guide you on your journey. You have reached your destination whether you make it to the top or find the perfect spot to put your feet up and just take in the view of the peaks that surround you as well as the creek alongside you.
The out and back trail is only 3.3 miles, but you are climbing so it’s at least moderate in my book. Not only are you going uphill but there are obstacles.
Rocks, roots and ruts are just a few problems, as well as poor signage. I was asked several times by first time visitors if they were going the right way.
There are places where you traverse granite slabs. The trick is to keep your eye on the waterfall and your ear on the creek. If you can see the falls and you can hear the creek, you are headed the right way.
I would not encourage any day hiker to attempt reaching the top unless you are skilled in rock hopping, mountaineering and technical rock climbing.
I may sound pessimistic, but granite is slippery, and a fall will result in injury and even death. Stay low and enjoy the loop and the creek.
On every trip, I see backpackers with proper gear who have made the summit and hike back to the lake that feeds the falls. It is worth the effort if you are able-bodied and equipped. Again, I would not encourage the average hiker to make the trip.
On my last trip, I found an artist painting one of the many bends in the creek. You can probably find the painting in one of the fine Tahoe galleries.
On the Pyramid Loop Trail enjoy the forested areas with shade, and the relief from the heat of the exposed granite of the mountain in the creek, but it does get hot so take plenty of water and all the usual precautions of sturdy shoes, sunblock and bug spray if you are so inclined.
Micah and I had a lovely pool to ourselves in the afternoon. We enjoyed our lunch and the view of the falls as well as the surrounding peaks. We talked about the next chapter and what trail we were going to hike next.
Mary West is author of the book series Day Hiker – Gold Country Trail Guide I, II and III (2nd edition Available on Amazon). The books are a collection of the Day Hiker columns where West shares her longtime love of the outdoors, favorite hikes in Northern California’s Gold Country and beyond. West was the recipient of the 2017 and 2019 CRAFT Award for Best Outdoor Column and the 2020 Craft Award for her second book in the series-Day Hiker Gold Country Trail Guide by the Outdoor Writers of California. You can follow West on Facebook and Instagram
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