Mary West: Exploring the Pyramid Creek Loop Trail

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Pyramid Creek Loop Trail is a 3.3 mile loop located at the base of Horsetail Falls near Twin Bridges in El Dorado County. My husband Micah and I climbed to the top in our 20s. We returned to the lake above the falls in our 30s. We celebrated our anniversary with a hike in the area and found the perfect spot for our picnic in one of the many small waterfalls that flow into the pools with plenty of seating on the smooth granite stones.

If you’ve ridden Hwy 50 around Twin Bridges you’ve probably seen the white ribbon of snow dripping majestically floating along the mountain, maybe you’ve even thought about taking the trip.

A daily usage fee of US $ 5 Forest Service 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 reach the top or find the perfect place to get up and take in the view of the peaks around you as well as the cove next to you.



The out and back trail is only 3.3 miles, but you go up so it’s at least moderate in my book. Not only are you going up, but there are obstacles.

Rocks, roots, and ruts are just a few issues, along with poor signage. First-time visitors have repeatedly asked me if they are headed in the right direction.



There are places where you cross granite slabs. The trick is to keep an eye on the waterfall and your ear on the stream. If you can see the falls and hear the stream, you’re on the right track.

I wouldn’t encourage any day hiker to attempt to reach the top unless you have mastered rock jumping, mountaineering, and technical climbing.

I may sound pessimistic, but the 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 making it to the top and returning to the lake that feeds the falls. It is worth it if you are able-bodied and equipped. Again, I wouldn’t encourage the average hiker to take 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 Tahoe’s beautiful galleries.

On the Pyramid Loop trail, enjoy the shaded wooded areas and the relief of the heat of the exposed mountain granite in the creek, but it’s hot so take plenty of water and all the usual sturdy footwear precautions, sunscreen 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 the trail we were going to hike next.

Mary West is the author of the Day Hiker – Gold Country Trail Guide I, II and III book series (2nd edition available on Amazon). The books are a collection of Day Hiker Columns where West shares his longtime love of the outdoors, his favorite hikes in Northern California’s Gold Country and beyond. West received the 2017 and 2019 CRAFT Award for Best Outdoor Column and the 2020 Craft Award for his second book in the Day Hiker Gold Country Trail Guide series from the Outdoor Writers of California. You can follow West on Facebook and Instagram

An artist painting one of the stream’s many meanders.
Photo by Mary West
Pyramid Creek Loop Trail is a 3.3 mile loop located at the base of Horsetail Falls near Twin Bridges in El Dorado County.
Photo by Mary West
The out and back trail is only 3.3 miles, but you climb so it’s at least moderate.
Photo by Mary West
The trail loosely follows Pyramid Creek straight up the mountain. The sound of running water and picturesque waterfalls guide you on your journey.
Photo by Mary West
A daily usage fee of US $ 5 Forest Service for parking is required and parking is limited.
Photo by Mary West


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