Horsetail Falls Hike: Alpine, Utah
The Horsetail Falls hike takes you to a majestic waterfall with beautiful views of the Alpine and Highland areas below. This steep hike through beautiful scenery of the Lone Peak Wilderness and Uintah National Forest to a waterfall that is well worth the work. This is great hike for families experienced in hiking.
Fun: ⭐⭐⭐ (out of 5)
Difficulty: Very Easy Easy Moderate HARD Very Hard
Distance: 4 miles
Elevation Gain: 1600 ft
Terrain: Dirt, large and small rocks, small stream crossings, water during certain times of the year. Trail is mostly shaded.
Time: 2 to 3 hours
When to Go: Spring, Summer, Fall
There are no bathrooms or water at the trail head. The nearest services are in downtown Alpine, about 10 minutes from the trail head.
THINGS TO BRING
Good hiking shoes
The Horsetail Falls hike follows the Dry Creek Canyon Trail just east of Alpine, Utah. The trail head is located at the end of Grove Drive in Alpine, Utah where there is large dirt parking lot that can fit at least 20 vehicles.
The trailhead is located at the end of Grove Drive in Alpine, Utah where there is large dirt parking lot that can fit at least 20 vehicles.
If the parking lot is crowded there is also street parking available. The trail begins on the north east corner of the parking lot with a map of the Dry Creek area.
The trail is well shaded for the majority of the hike except for the first and last quarter mile. We did the hike in June in the late afternoon.
The elevation change to the waterfall is 1600 feet, which is why I rate this hike as "Hard" for kids. We hiked this with two 10-year-olds, a 9-year-old, and 6-year-old, as well as a 2 year old in a hiking carrier. The 6-year-old did a good amount of complaining, but kept going with some treat bribery, haha. The 9 and 10-year-olds did very well, and of course the 2-year-old loved life in the hiking carrier.
There is a huge boulder to the south side of the trail that my girls had a fun time climbing. We always take advantage of fun things along the way. It breaks the hike up for the kids and makes it more fun for them.
There is also a small clearing on the way up that has a fork in the road. You can take either route. The two routes meet up with each other in a short time.
The terrain is very rocky with big and small rocks. There are a couple of small stream crossings which have logs and rocks placed so you don’t have to get wet if you don’t want to.
Dry Creek Canyon is for the majority of the time dry. However, due to the amount of spring rain when we did this hike, there was more than just a couple stream crossings.
There was actually water coming down on the trail for the last half mile, making the trail a small stream. This is just what my kids needed to help them through the last bit of upward hiking. The kids loved walking through the water and getting wet.
One stream crossing was surprisingly stronger than it looked. So, as always, watch the kids and help them across these areas.
On the way up there are a few areas that overlook a view of the falls.
If you would like to get a close up view of the falls, I suggest continuing upward to a sign on the ground with an arrow pointing north that says horsetail falls.
The sign on the ground is near a point on the trail that shifts right. This leads to a narrower trail directly left of the main Dry Creek Trail. This narrower trail descends rapidly and there is a rope to the left to help let you down if needed. Continue on this trail for another quarter mile or so.
The waterfall comes up fairly quickly after turning off the main trail and is pretty awesome to see. The area near the waterfall is steep, so be cautious of your little ones getting there before you. You will likely be able to feel the mist of the falls as you get closer. Due to the heavy spring rain and runoff the waterfall was a lot bigger for us than I have seen in other pictures.
The views looking down from Horsetail Falls are beautiful. Everything was so green and lush with the wet spring.
To get back to the parking lot, just turn back and go the way you came.
Overall, the hike was not too difficult for our family. However, we are a hiking family. I would not recommend this hike to a family new to hiking. Try a few shorter easier hikes first.
Here are a few easier hikes that might be good for your family if you're in Salt Lake or Utah County areas:
Rocky Mouth Waterfall
Draper Suspension Bridge
PROS & CONS
Hiking in water due to spring run-off possible
Steep incline for younger kids
To get to the Horsetail Falls trailhead put Deer Creek/Dry Creek/North Mountain Trail into your maps app. You can also use the search, Horsetail Falls Trail via Dry creek. This will lead you to a dirt parking lot at the end of Grove Drive in Alpine. You can also follow my map below.
All Trails: Horsetail Falls Trail
OTHER NEARBY ADVENTURES
Alien Tower Hike (30 minutes)
Draper Suspension Bridge (40 minutes)
Rocky Mouth Waterfall (45 minutes)
Hi, I'm Corrine! I'm an outdoor enthusiast, mother of four, wife, nurse and runner. I believe God gave us this beautiful earth to explore, enjoy and protect.
My goal is to inspire you to get outside and create your own amazing memories as a family. Life is precious and there are too many adventures to be had to spend life on the couch or in front of a screen.
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