Horsetail Falls Trail

This trail is a very easy and features boardwalk for 90% of the trail.  It is a steady climb the entire way, but nothing to wind either Claimjumper or me.  The boardwalk gives the entire trail a Swiss Family Robinson feel.  The makers of this trail used cedar in some sections which did not withstand the shifting of the ground beneath.  Consequently, there are spots where one must be very careful due to the possibility that the broken wood may give out underneath somebody.  This is Indian Jones style adventuring!  The trail is less than a mile long and took us a half an hour to reach the top.

Enter Whittier through the tunnel.  After crossing the bridge over Whittier Creek turn right on Whittier Street and cross the railroad tracks.  Pass the Anchor Inn and go straight at the stop sign up the hill that curves to the left toward the old barracks.  As you pass the old cement barracks turn right off the paved road and follow the dirt road up the hill.  There will be a fork in the dirt road with a sign directing either straight ahead to the Horsetail Falls Trail or left to the Emerald Bay Trail.  Drive to the parking area in front of the red gate and leave your vehicle.  Walk through the gate and up the hill.  The trail begins on the right side of the road at the top of the hill.

There are no facilities at either end of the trail.  Consequently, there is also no cost to use it.  At the top there is a deck built large enough to support one tent.  This is about the best camp spot we found in Whittier.  But before packing up all your gear we recommend first checking to make sure nobody else had already taken it.

Bug dope is definitely a necessity on this trail.  There are two biters that hikers need to be wary of encountering.  Gnats dominate the lower half of the trail.  On the upper half they disappear… but only because the mosquitoes are so ferocious that they don’t leave any blood left for the poor gnats.

The view of Whittier and Passage Canal from the deck is phenomenal!  It is amazing how many boats dock in the harbor.  We learned during one of the tours that there is a five year waiting list for slips in the harbor.  Hmm,… smells like an opportunity.  Learnard Glacier sparkles atop the mountains across the canal.

The trail passes through a bowl where a number of falls cascade down the slopes, joining into what becomes Whittier Creek.  We ascended in the evening after the sun no longer shone into the bowl.  We would recommend morning to afternoon climbs to get the most enjoyment out of viewing and photographing the falls.  There are blueberries all along side the lower trail and salmon berry bushes all over once you climb above tree line.

Last Visited: September 2000.


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