Located in the Crystal Basin area of the El Dorado National Forest, Bassi Falls is a popular hiking trail that leads to an incredible 109-foot cascading waterfall. This hike is beautiful in every season, but the best time to catch the waterfall in full flow is late-Spring and early-Summer when the snowmelt is flowing steadily through the Sierra Nevada mountains. Pack a lunch and enjoy the many swimming holes nestled within the massive, flat slabs of granite. This is a great place to cool off in the summer heat, take in the alpine scenery, and snap some epic pictures. This hike is certainly doable for children and is also dog friendly.
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Bassi Falls Hike
This moderate 3.6-mile out-and-back trail meanders through towering pines and ends at a majestic cascading waterfall. The trailhead starts at Millionaire Camp off of Ice House Road. You will reach lower Bassi Falls before you make it to the main falls further along the trail. There are some uphill sections, but this trail is very accessible to children and seniors.
If you are eager to see Bassi Creek from the top of the falls, you can brave the steep (and sometimes slippery) climb up the granite rocks.
There is a small parking lot available off of Ice House Road near the Union Valley Reservoir, as well as additional parking along the main road. When there is snow, it is best to park along the main road if you don’t have four-wheel drive.
The dirt road off of Ice House Road leads to another parking area that will put you within earshot of the waterfall. Taking this road will allow you to bypass most of the trail, but this road is inaccessible in the snow. In my opinion, it’s much more of a fun day activity walking the entire trail. Plus, you also get to see the smaller falls below the main cascade.
Parking fills up quickly in warm weather months, so make sure to arrive early!
Best Times to Visit Bassi Falls
In my opinion, late spring and early summer are great times to make the trek out to Bassi Falls. Not only are the falls in full flow, but you will be able to find beautiful alpine wildflowers along the trail. There may still be a bit of slushy snow on the trail in April, which makes the trail somewhat difficult to follow in spots. If you find yourself getting lost, all you have to do is follow the river upstream until you hit the trail again. In early spring, the water will be running swiftly and be icy cold.
In the winter, there will be plenty of snow on the ground, so bring a pair of snowshoes and layer up.
When hiking to the actual falls, it’s hard to believe all this water comes from the seemingly trickle farther up. This has some great swimming holes in the summer. If you visit in late summer, however, you may only be able to catch a small trickle of water cascading down the falls.
- Shoes with good grip
- A swimsuit and towel in the warm months
- Plenty of water
- Insect repellant
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