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A bike ride across the Sundial Bridge in Redding, Ca
Two people hiking next to a lake at Lassen Volcanic National Park.
Kayaking and paddleboarding at Shasta Lake
Middle McCloud Falls
Kyle Sheppard
A family at Lake Shasta Caverns National Natural Landmark in Redding, CA.

10 Amazing Waterfalls to See in Northern California

By Redding CVB | 03/28/2019 | Family Friendly , Great Outdoors, Lakes, State & National Parks, Things to See and Do, Trails, Waterfalls


An international outdoor destination ringed by the Southern Cascades to the east and the much smaller range of the Trinity Alps to the west, Redding is a hotspot for waterfall chasers. It’s an area with both short and long winding trails to seemingly secret falls and popular cascades you can see right from the road.

Each spring and early summer the streams and rivers come alive, churning with snowmelt as it descends from the mountains to lower elevations. With landmarks like Mt. Shasta, Lassen Volcanic National Park, and the many lakes and rivers of this region, it’s a bold statement to say that the waterfalls surrounding the city of Redding are the area’s best asset. But it’s true. Here are some of the best falls in the area and how to find them.

1. Kings Creek Falls


Located in Lassen Volcanic National Park, about an hour east of Redding, Kings Creek Falls is one of the parks most popular attractions. While the 2.3-mile round-trip hike to the 46-foot falls is relatively moderate, keep in mind that you are starting out at an elevation of more than 7,000 feet. You’ll start by slowly descending through a wildflower-filled meadow before reaching the thick woods filled with pine and fir. In all, you’ll descend about 500 feet before reaching the overlook. The is one waterfall that may actually be prettier in the summer when there’s a lower volume of water, allowing you to better see the rocky tiers that jet out from behind the falls.

2. Whiskeytown Falls

Whiskeytown Falls
arunbulchandani on Instagram

One of the closest waterfalls in proximity to Redding, Whiskeytown Falls is also the tallest waterfall in the area at 220 feet. The waterfall was re-discovered in 2004 after being kept secret since 1967. This usually misty trail offers a change in climate which invites unique plants and animals. The James K. Carr Trail connects to the Mill Creek Trail and ascends steadily uphill through a ravine. When it levels out, you will arrive at a picnic area. The trail parallels the creek for a quarter-mile until it reaches the base of the falls and the stone steps to the left leads up to the cliff where you can use the handrails for safety as you climb to the vista points. 

3. Hedge Creek Falls


Located up a short, 0.7-mile trail with about 200 feet of elevation gain, Hedge Creek Falls offers a chance to get off the beaten path, go for a pretty walk, and see an even lovelier cascade. The falls are about 30 feet high, and where it truly stands out is the path that extends behind the waterfall and under the protruding basalt rock over which the water pours. If you are looking for a quiet place to contemplate nature, you can’t beat Hedge Creek Falls, and it’s located less than an hour from Redding.

4. Little Backbone Creek Waterslide

Also about an hour from Redding, Little Backbone Creek Waterslide is an amazing series of falls that form a natural waterslide. Not only does the turquoise water contrast dramatically and beautifully with the red rock of the small cascades, but the short, 20-minute hike up from the Shasta Lake’s edge is a fun exploration of the area. The waterslide is located on the McCloud arm of Shasta Lake and is most commonly accessed by boaters coming from the lake.

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5. Burstarse Falls


If you are looking for more of a hike and crave the solitude of the surrounding woods, Burstarse Falls is where you should go. Located in the Castle Crags Wilderness about an hour from Redding, it’s about a quarter-mile off the Pacific Crest Trail. Many hikers stop at the lower falls by mistake, thinking they have reached the main event. But Burstarse Falls proper is a 50-foot waterfall with a few smaller cascades scattered below. The trail to reach it will get the blood moving–it’s five miles round trip along the PCT and features about 1,000 feet of elevation gain.

6. Root Creek Falls

Root Creek Falls
Photo courtesy of Instagram -- @lyss.berg

Another waterfall in the Castle Crags area about an hour from Redding, the Root Creek Falls also features a five-mile hike with about 700 feet of elevation gain. The trail is moderate, climbing gradually through dense forest before meeting up with Root Creek and running parallel to the water’s edge up to the base of the falls. Watch your footing when you arrive at the fall’s vista point–it can be quite precarious. But the view of the cataract tumbling down below the iconic Castle Dome is well worth the effort.

7. Potem Falls

Potem Falls

If playing in the water sounds like fun to you, then Potem Falls is definitely worth a visit. This waterfall lies in a deep canyon and reaches 45 feet from its base. Enjoy swimming in the pool at the base during the summer months, and don't forget to check out the rope swing!

8-10. McCloud Upper, Middle, and Lower Falls


Lower McCloud Falls


Middle McCloud Falls


Upper McCloud Falls

Featuring a series of three falls visible from the road, the McCloud River is located about an hour and a half from downtown Redding. The Lower Falls spill into a very popular swimming hole with a cliff jumping platform, so it’s common to see adrenaline junkies and their fans gathering here in warmer months. The Upper and Middle Falls, on the other hand, are most commonly and safely observed from lookouts above, but both feature lovely pools below the falls. A 5-minute walk will take you to both the Upper and Middle lookouts, or you can hop on an easy 4-mile trail that winds along the river to take you to all three.

Written by Jill Sanford for Matcha in partnership with Redding CVB.

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