Horse Tail Falls - Steep Climb, Beautiful Trail, Awesome Waterfall
Updated: Mar 2, 2021
Horse Tail Falls is a beautiful hike just above the city of Alpine Utah. The distance to the falls is a short 2.1 miles, but is fairly steep with an elevation gain of almost 1600 feet. The trail is wide and well marked and is a great destination for a group hike, horseback ride or a challenging trail run.
Distance: 2.1 miles (one way)
Trailhead Elevation: 5600 ft (Approx.)
Falls Elevation: 72oo ft (Approx)
Trail Head Name: Dry Creek
Location: Alpine, Utah
Rating: (moderate – due to steepness)
Horse Tail Falls is accessed using the Dry Creek Trail head that is just outside of the quiet town of Alpine Utah. From I-15 take the Highland/Alpine exit onto the Timpanogos Highway (SR-92). Take the highway to 6000 West and turn North, you’ll see a sign for Alpine. From here follow the road into town and through the round about. Turn onto Grove drive and then follow the signs to the “Rodeo Grounds.” Soon after you pass the Rodeo Grounds you will reach a dirt parking lot, this is where the Dry Creek Trail system begins.
The trail is on the East side of the parking lot and has good signage. This is a wilderness area, so no type of wheeled vehicle is allowed, which is a bit dissapointing because it would make for a great mountain bike ride. The trail starts out with a good climb, and maintains this grade for quite a bit of the trail, however there are just a few spots where the trail levels out for a moment giving your calves a bit of a rest.
After about 1/10 of a mile you will see a trail split off to the left. This trail crosses the river below and makes its way to the base of Horse Tail Falls. This trail is more narrow and there is a lot more up and down. I haven’t taken this trail all the way to Horse Tail Falls yet, but will update with new information once I get to it.
The main trail is about a roads width for much of the way and has a few spots where it splits and then rejoins. Much of the trail has good tree cover which is especially nice if you hike it during the middle of the day. About a quarter mile into the hike you will see a post with no sign and a trail that heads off to the right and up the hillside. This trail goes up the mountain to the top and is very steep.
The main trail continues up, up and up with a few stream crossings, all of which have small foot bridges, incase you don’t want to get your feet wet. At about the two mile mark will come to a fork on the trail. Head left to continue to the top of the falls, or you can head right to access the North Mountain or Deer Creek – Dry Creek Trail. On the left side of the trail you will notice a small game trail that heads down and through the bushes and trees. This small game trail will take you to the bottom of Horse Tail falls, but requires a little bit of bush whacking.
Continue on the main trail and you will climb just a bit more until you are up above the falls. From here you can get a decent look at the falls, but for the best view you may want to take one of many game trails down to the base of the falls. You can also head back down the trail to take the game trail to the base of the falls that is just across from the signed junction.
Horse Tail Falls is about 35 feet high and is well worth the hike up to see it. It is a little more spectacular looking during the run-off season as there is more water, but even in dry years it is a sight not to be missed. Just above the falls the river moves swiftly as it cuts through the canyon rock. If you do decide to explore around the falls, carefully plan your route down and up, as the rock can be a little slick due to the moisture and humidity of the falls.
Don’t forget to pack your ten essentials on this hike. Plan to take some food and water with you as it takes a little longer than a typical 2 mile hike because of its elevation gain – plus there are a lot of great spots to stop and eat a sandwich or your favorite snack by the water fall. If you have any questions about the hike or would like to comment on your trip to the falls please post below. If you found this article helpful and are planning other adventures in Utah consider signing up for our e-mail list (simply go to the top of page and click subscribe - it's free!) to get the latest adventure posts. You can also sign up to be a member here to share comments at the bottom of our posts and in our forums. Most importantly don't forget to get outside and find your adventure!