Northern California Waterfall Hikes
With California receiving so much rainfall this past winter, we were treated to four fabulous waterfalls on our road trip through Northern California this year (2017). All four of these waterfall hikes were short trails with big payoffs. You could squeeze all four of these Northern California waterfall hikes into one day, but I recommend camping at McArthur-Burney Falls Campground (they have nice cabins too).
Hatchet Creek Falls
Starting from Redding, the first waterfall hike we stopped at was Hatchet Creek Falls. This was our favorite to play in mostly because we got there early so we had the place all to ourselves for an hour. By the time we left, there were quite a few people there. From Highway 299, turn left on Big Bend Road and one mile down the road you will see a big dirt pull out right before the bridge. Park here and follow the trail on the right side of the parking lot. This trail will only take you about ten minutes to reach the falls but is a little more difficult than the other waterfall trails as it does require climbing over and ducking under some fallen trees. Hatchet Falls gets its name from the large tree trunk sitting in the middle of the falls that has been notched to make it easier to climb up and jump off.
On a side note: If you are looking for a nice rock climbing crag on your way to the falls from Redding, stop by Burney Limestone. We enjoyed spending the morning climbing here before going to explore Hatchet Falls.
We were amazed by the beauty of this waterfall. We have seen a lot of waterfalls throughout our travels, but the way the water cascades down the mossy rock in so many spots reminded us of the beautiful falls in Plitvice National Park Croatia. This waterfall is located in McArthur-Burney Falls State Park. You do have to pay $8 per vehicle to enter the park. Instead, we just camped at this gorgeous campground ($35/night). The trail to the overlook for the falls is very short (1 minute), but I recommend walking the paved trail to the bottom of the falls to feel the significant drop in temperature and the cool mist coming off the falls. You can continue on this trail and do the one-mile loop around the waterfall. Try to make time to stay in the park and drive down to the lake that is fed by Burney Falls. While you can’t swim in the falls, the lake has a nice beach area for swimming. You can also rent kayaks, paddle boards, and motor boats at the lake too. This campground has a lot to offer with hiking and mountain biking trails. We enjoyed our three-night stay here A LOT!
We parked at Fowlers Campground (I wish we had camped here because this campground is beautiful and only $15/night) and started on the paved trail from the campground and headed east. At the east end of the campground, the trail turns from paved to dirt. Follow the dirt trail for about fifteen minutes to get to the middle falls. We enjoyed climbing over the rocks to get to the water. While it was a little more crowded than Hatchet Falls was, we found it fun having a crowd to cheer us on while jumping off the rocks into the freezing cold pool of snow melt. Stop by McCloud to grab food at Mountain Star Cafe or Kyody Coffee.
Hedge Creek Falls
We stopped at this falls on a previous road trip (2012), but still recommend this hike if you are in the area. It’s a very short hike to the falls and great for smaller children as the pools are easy to access. Make sure you fill your water bottles at the water fountain at the start of the trail. The water here is so delicious! I like that you can walk behind this waterfall. If you feel more adventurous, you can also check out Mossbrae Falls in Dunsmuir.
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