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The Lost Falls of Whiskeytown

By | 06/06/2013

Picture yourself reclining in the soft crook of a fallen mammoth Douglas fir, and gazing up at a natural stained-glass window of brightly colored leaves and dappled sunlight. Warm breezes, cool mist, and the soothing rhythm of crashing, splashing, and trickling water meet you. Welcome to the waterfalls of Northern California! 

Waterfalls never cease to amaze and with over 70 within 100 miles, Redding is the perfect place to begin or continue your waterfall exploration! Take the Whiskeytown Waterfalls Challenge and hike or bike to all four of the Whiskeytown National Recreation Area waterfalls. If you're up for the challenge then complete all four hikes and receive a free I Walked the Falls bandana from the Whiskeytown Visitors Center. Get started by printing your Waterfalls Passport! Before you embark on this exciting adventure, read ahead to learn a bit about each of these waterfalls. 

The recently rediscovered addition to the waterfalls of Whiskeytown National Recreation Area is Whiskeytown Falls. After 37 years of shhh..., the secret's out! A magnificent 220 foot waterfall is ready for you to explore. This hidden gem was rediscovered in 2004 by park biologist Russ Weatherbee and was opened to the public soon after. Discover this natural masterpiece for yourself with only a 3.4 mile round trip on a former logging trail. Behold the visual delights created by the trail's unique climate including a variety of flora and fauna. This trail is named James K. Carr Trail and is a moderate hike mostly uphill (and completely worth it) to the waterfall. 

Brandy Creek Falls is one of the widest waterfalls in the area with five 20 foot cascades that rush over the granite rock of the canyon. Here you will find the unique Indian Rhubarb along the creek, displaying bright colors in spring and fall. In 2005 the trail to the falls was updated to make it safer and more enjoyable for explorers. This 3 mile round trip trail is named Brandy Creek Falls Trail and is a moderate hike with many portions alongside the creek. If you've got the right type of footwear (like toe shoes or water shoes) then do what I enjoy and hike up the giant boulders scattered across the creek side for a whole different experience. 

At over 138 feet tall, Boulder Creek Falls was thought to be the tallest waterfall in the park until the re-discovery of Whiskeytown Falls in 2004. With three cascades down a canyon covered in moss and ferns, you'll feel like you're in a dream. This 5.5 mile round trip trail is named Boulder Creek Falls Trail and is a strenuous hike with fantastic views. If you feel like taking the shorter route of only 2 miles round trip then use the Mill Creek Road Access to enjoy this splendid waterfall. 

Crystal Creek Falls is the only manmade waterfall in Whiskeytown National Recreation Area at a height of 40 feet. It was created to divert water from Trinity River to Whiskeytown Lake and finally to Sacramento River and in this process Crystal Creek Falls was created. This 1 mile round trip trail is named Crystal Creek Falls Trail and is an easy hike to the waterfall. This is a popular place to swim and relax on a summer day. 

Now that you are equipped with your Waterfalls Passport and some great information about the four Whiskeytown Waterfalls, you are almost ready to begin your adventure! Here are some recommended items to make your waterfall excursion complete. Don't forget to pack some snacks or a picnic to enjoy by the waterfall. Be sure to bring your camera; a waterfall is a unique backdrop for a photo opportunity and youre sure to see some local wildlife during your journey. 

The pools at the falls also make great swimming spots so be sure to bring your swim suit and take a dip in the refreshing cool water before you make your way back from the waterfall. Be safe and bring more drinking water than you expect to use, if you dont use it all then you will have gotten an extra work out! Use sunscreen, the sun that comes through the trees more than you may think. Lastly, parking in Whiskeytown National Recreation Area requires a pass. To avoid a ticket be sure to purchase a Park day pass for $5 or an annual pass for $25. For printable trail guides and directions visit the Whiskeytown Recreation Center website. Now its time to get out there and hike, enjoy the great outdoors, and make lasting memories!



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