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Stories from the valley

Bassi Falls: A Great Late Spring/Summer Hike for All Ages

Contributed by Carl Gwyn

With the snow gone from the Crystal Basin Recreation Area, it’s time to get out and enjoy some beautiful hikes. A particularly nice one leads to Bassi Falls. This Sierra masterpiece is putting on a great show due to the tremendous runoff from the melting high-country snows.

To reach the falls, take Highway 50 east past Pollock Pines and turn left onto Ice House Road. About 13 miles in, you’ll pass the Crystal Basin Information Station operated by the U.S. Forest Service, where you can get more information about this hike as well as other recreational opportunities in the area.

After another five miles, you’ll cross Big Silver Creek. Turn right at the first road past the bridge. It’s not marked but is across from the entrance to Big Silver Group Campground. Although the surface immediately becomes a dirt road, the road is suitable for regular vehicles as far as the trailhead, which is about 1.5 miles in. I recommend arriving early because this is a popular spot and the parking lot fills up quickly.

From the parking lot, you will walk down the road toward the dispersed camping area, and there you will see the sign to Bassi Falls. The trail is easy to follow, well-marked, and parallels Big Silver Creek and then Bassi Creek.

While traveling through a beautiful forest of mixed Ponderosa Pine and Incense Cedar, you’ll enjoy the sound of rushing water almost the entire distance. We encountered hikers of all ages. The trail is easily managed since the climb is gentle on the way out to the falls, with a roughly 500-foot elevation gain.

After about 1.3 miles, you will come to Lower Bassi Falls. Continue on the trail to the left around this grotto. In another mile or so, you will come to Bassi Falls, a beautiful 120-foot waterfall. As travel you near the falls, you’ll see water cascading over granite slabs, and then you will arrive at the base of the waterfall. We saw hikers of all ages enjoying the many refreshing pools. There is a trail to the top of the falls for the more adventurous.

Hiking out seems to go a lot more quickly because it is downhill, and you will soon arrive at the parking lot. The round-trip distance is only about 4.5 miles. You can find more information by clicking here. There is a shorter trail to the falls, which are accessible by turning left off of the main road to the regular trailhead. However, a four-wheel-drive vehicle with good clearance is recommended for travel on that access road.

I have lived in the area for years, and yet I had never made this trip before. It was such a nice hike with a super reward that my wife declared that it needs to become a yearly trek.