Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Horsetail Falls

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Hiking to Horsetail Falls, Utah, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
Horsetail Falls is one of my favorite hikes to do with the dogs. I always do this hike in the spring time because I love seeing the spring run off gushing over the falls. This time, I wanted to see it frozen and in snowy conditions. To be honest, I love seeing these falls year round - the views never fail to amaze me. You can't tell by the photo, but Horsetail Falls is roughly 100 ft high.

 From I-15, take exit 289 for 138th South/Bangeter, and head East past Harmon's grocery store. Stay on Bangeter up the hill as it turns into Traverse Ridge Rd. At the first stop sign near the top of the hill, turn left onto Suncrest Drive, and drive down the other side of "Point of The Mountain" as the locals call it. Turn left on W 118th N, and drive past the LDS church. Turn Right on W 200th N. At the 2nd stop sign, turn left onto Grove Drive. You will drive through a small neighborhood, and the speed limit is 25 mph, then around a corner it will be 5 mph. When you come to a T, turn right, and follow the road up, past the Rodeo Grounds sign, and you'll see the Dry Canyon TH sign. Pull into the large parking lot. I would say that 30 cars can fit here. I like driving this way better than taking Hwy 92, because it's more scenic and it's the same drive time.

Distance: 4.5 miles RT
Elevation gain: 1700 ft
Time: 3-4 hours
Dog friendly? Yes, off leash
Kid Friendly? Yes

Hiking to Horsetail Falls, Utah, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 This is what the parking area and TH look like.
Hiking to Horsetail Falls, Utah, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 The first part of the trail will be open, with no shade. You will hear the river down to the left. You can actually walk down to it, following the small trail off to the left. The area by the river is a popular backpacking spot for boyscouts and those looking for a quick, over-nighter.
Hiking to Horsetail Falls, Utah, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 15 minutes into the hike, you will now be walking through a forested area. The trail is a steady incline.
Hiking to Horsetail Falls, Utah, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
At 1.2 miles, you will reach Shingle Mill Flat, which is a nice forest meadow popular, again, for boy scouts. When it isn't populated with people, you will often see wildlife running about. Near the upper part of the meadow the trail will split, but they merge quickly. A few times I have hiked here, I have seen people put sticks blocking the right path, encouraging hikers to stay left. My guess is the forest service is trying to let that section have some time for regrowth.

Hiking to Horsetail Falls, Utah, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 Parts of the trail were a complete ice sheet under some fresh snow. Always carry microspikes with you in winter! They have saved my life a few times from slipping and hurting myself.
Hiking to Horsetail Falls, Utah, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 Our first stream crossing. Along this hike you will pass over several dry stream beds (in fall/winter). However in spring, I have seen these streams fairly high.
Hiking to Horsetail Falls, Utah, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 Around the corner from the first stream crossing you will get a nice overlook of the canyon, and can finally see Horsetail Falls. They look small here, but wait until you get to the base of them!
Hiking to Horsetail Falls, Utah, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 Cross the 2nd stream
Hiking to Horsetail Falls, Utah, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 Just after the 2nd stream, you will come to a fork. Though both of these trails head right, you will want to turn left.
Hiking to Horsetail Falls, Utah, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 To get to the base of the falls, you actually need to do a little bush whacking and get off trail. The best point to access this is about 20 ft from the trail split sign. It will be very noticeable - there is a rock, and several bushes that have been cleared from others hiking the same way. It is steep for only 10-15 ft. 
Hiking to Horsetail Falls, Utah, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 After you get down the steep part, you will then cross through a very swampy/muddy area, with low hanging branches. Watch your footing and face, as you follow the small trail. It will open up very quickly, so don't let this nasty section make you turn around. Once it opens, you will hear the rush of water as the trail turns a corner and leads you to the base of the falls.
Hiking to Horsetail Falls, Utah, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
At the base of the falls! You can actually hike up to the top of the falls from here. Be careful where you step - there are several drop offs down to the falls. A few people have even died here, and if you explore these rocks, you will find an old plaque of a boy who died here. This is one area you will want kids to stay close by. These rocks near the falls are slippery year-round, so again, be careful.
Hiking to Horsetail Falls, Utah, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
Here is what the falls looked like in April 2015. Can you find me? This shows how big the falls really are.
Hiking to Horsetail Falls, Utah, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 Here is a route overview, looking East.
Hiking to Horsetail Falls, Utah, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
A closer view of where the trail comes to a T, and where you need to get off the trail and do a little bush whacking to get to the base of the falls.



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Hiking to Horsetail Falls, Utah, Hiking in Utah with Dogs

8 comments:

  1. It was a great time with a great group of people and canines.

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    1. Thanks! Charlie and I had a blast too :)

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  2. Brrr!! Sure looks cold but so much fun:) Beautiful fall!! Question...don't the dogs get frostbite walking in the water than the snow? I noticed they didn't have boots.

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    1. No the dogs that come on this hike are "regulars" and hike often, so the dogs are used to these conditions. My opinion on those dog boots is that they don't actually need them. For thousands of years they've survived without boots, so to me those boots are a marketing/sales tool. *However* I have known older dogs that tend to slip on ice or even in their home on wood floors, and that's where I feel they are useful. One thing I do do, is after a hike in the snow or really scratchy rock, is apply Musher's Secret to my dogs paws. Mushers Secret is a salve to help re-moisturize paws. Developed in Canada for use with sledding dogs, it provides tenacious protection even in the most extreme conditions and find it very helpful on Charlie.

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    2. Thanks! I was just curious. The dogs seem to be having a great time:)

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  3. Brrr!! Sure looks cold but so much fun:) Beautiful fall!! Question...don't the dogs get frostbite walking in the water than the snow? I noticed they didn't have boots.

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  4. Gorgeous love the pictures in the winter! It was so HOT the day I went!

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    1. I saw your post! I can believe that is was super hot during that month! Good thing there's water on this trail to play in and for the dogs to drink from.

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