English (UK)
Eugene Davidyuk

Chasing Waterfalls

 Spend two days discovering some of California’s most spectacular falls, from the tallest waterfall in North America to a trio of captivating cataracts.

Start:Redding
End:Deer Creek Falls
2 - 4Days,9Stops,221Miles
Redding
Brian Rueb/Getty Images
Dunsmuir & Hedge Creek Falls
George Ostertag/Getty Images
Mount Shasta City & Faery Falls
Alexander Spatari/Getty Images
McCloud & McCloud Falls
CampPhoto/Getty Images
Floyd’s Frosty
Debby Lewis-Harrison/Getty Images
McArthur Burney Falls Memorial State Park
Skylar Santeo/Getty Images
Lassen Volcanic National Park
Peter Hagenouw/Getty Images
Highlands Ranch Resort
Rachid Dahnoun
Deer Creek Falls
Hair Ballusa/Getty Images
Stop 1

Redding

777 Cypress Ave, Redding

Redding might be the Californian city you’re missing and it’s one you shouldn’t miss. Northern California’s biggest town offers much more than a quick stop off of Interstate 5, including lively culture, world-class kayaking and the only bridge in the world that functions as a sundial. Redding’s 217-foot/66-metre-high Sundial Bridge, open to walkers and cyclists (but not cars), was designed to minimise its impact on the Sacramento River’s salmon-spawning habitat. This city cares about its waterways and strives to protect their clarity, both for wildlife and the kayakers who take to the local rivers and lakes. But you don’t have to be paddle mad to have fun here. Hire bikes and pedal 10 miles along the Sacramento River Trail. Watch the sunset from the riverside deck at View 202. Spend the night or saddle up for the day at the Wild Horse Sanctuary. Learn about nature’s wonders at the Turtle Bay Exploration Park and McConnell Arboretum and Botanical Gardens. And of course, it’s only an hour’s drive to Northern California’s two spectacular volcanoes, Mount Shasta and Mount Lassen.

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Stop 2

Dunsmuir & Hedge Creek Falls

4131 Dunsmuir Ave, Dunsmuir

The mountain town of Dunsmuir, nestled in the pines of the Upper Sacramento River Canyon, is a mecca for train enthusiasts and travellers seeking a peaceful alpine getaway. Fifty miles north of Redding, this region offers some of California’s best fly-fishing and the town offers a big dose of Western railway history in its historic centre. The food scene is tempting, too. Yaks on the 5 is famous for sticky buns with a bourbon caramel sauce and over-the-top burgers (both veggie and beef). For fine dining, head to Café Maddalena, a Mediterranean bistro with an inviting outdoor patio. Catch live music at Sengthong’s Blue Sky Room, accompanied by sophisticated Thai and Vietnamese dishes. While you’re in town, don’t miss the quick walk to see Hedge Creek Falls tumble over a basalt precipice. Look closely and you'll notice that the waterfall’s curtain hides the entrance to a 12-foot/3.6-metre-high cave.

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    Stop 3

    Mount Shasta City & Faery Falls

    Mt Shasta

    Hulking Mount Shasta dominates the Northern Californian landscape, its volcanic cone capped with glistening ice and snow long into summer. At 14,179 feet/4,322 metres high, the mountain is the largest stratovolcano in the Cascade Range. It presides over the town that shares its name, Mt Shasta City, a charming mountain village with lots to see and do. Have breakfast and lattes at Seven Suns Café or lunch under the patio umbrellas at Lily’s. Snap a few selfies on the single-arch suspension bridge on the Lake Siskiyou Trail. Take a walk along the Ney Springs Canyon Trail, which travels to the ruins of an 1880s' resort and the 42-foot/12-metre-high Faery Falls, a misty wonder during its peak springtime flow. Drive up the slopes of Mount Shasta on the Everitt Memorial Highway to watch (or join) the mountaineers setting off to climb Mount Shasta.

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      Stop 4

      McCloud & McCloud Falls

      McCloud

      Once a logging town, McCloud has reinvented itself while keeping close to its heritage. The 1897 McCloud Mercantile, built as the company shop, now houses a hotel, two restaurants and a mercantile store selling kitchen gifts, old-fashioned sweets and toiletries. At the yellow and white McCloud Hotel, the original 1916 registration desk still welcomes guests to its 16 sumptuous rooms. Nature lovers have plenty of options: walk or cycle the Great Shasta Rail Trail, an 80 mile long path that travels from McCloud to Burney. Visit a triumvirate of waterfalls on the McCloud River. Middle McCloud Falls steals the show with its commanding 50-foot/15-metre wall of water, and Lower McCloud Falls’ deep pool is best for swimming, but see them all by walking a 3.5-mile connecting trail or driving the McCloud River Loop.

      Stop 6

      McArthur Burney Falls Memorial State Park

      24898 Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway, Burney

      Burney Falls, the 129-foot/39-metre-tall, fern-draped cascade, 60 miles north-east of Redding in McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the western US. It’s no wonder 26th President Teddy Roosevelt dubbed it 'the eighth wonder of the world'.

      As you approach the main viewpoint, you’ll have to raise your voices to talk (or be happy in silence)—the broad wall of water faces you head on—splashing down the fern-covered face, tossing spurts and shards of rainbows left and right before finally plunging into a clear pool.

      Continue down the path to the pool, where you are likely to look but only briefly touch: the water never goes much above 42°F/5°C. Fishermen don’t seem to mind; the big pool at the base and Burney Creek above and below the cascade, are popular for catch and release fly fishing.

      Stop 7

      Lassen Volcanic National Park

      21800 Lassen Peak Hwy, Mineral

      Steaming sulphur vents, splattering mud pots and boiling springs, these lively features at Lassen Volcanic National Park prove that our planet is a living entity. Start at the outstanding Kohm Ya-mah-nee Visitor Center, then head out to explore some of the park’s remarkable and safely accessible features, such as the geothermal site Bumpass Hell (open seasonally, check website for details). An easy, well-marked trail travels past roaring fumaroles and hissing vents (the 3-mile round trip is worth the effort). Along the way, a short spur trail leads to a stunning panorama of peaks, actually the remnants of a massive volcano called Mount Tehama, which exploded some 500,000 years ago. The park’s signature volcano Lassen Peak, last blew its top in May 1914. Today, things have settled down, and trails and viewing points let you safely see and learn about volcanic activity. In the park’s southern reaches, you’ll find two easy-to-reach waterfalls: 50-foot/15-metre-high Kings Creek Falls which can be accessed by a downhill walk through a verdant meadow and then a descent down a rocky staircase alongside Kings Creek. Mill Creek Falls plunges 75 feet/23 metres over a moss-covered cliff (to see it, walk 1.5 miles from Southwest Campground).

      SPOTLIGHT

      Highlands Ranch Resort

      41515 Hwy 36 E, Mill Creek

      Swing by Highlands Ranch Resort just 10 miles south of Lassen Park and relax by the fireplace with a ginger lemon martini, before spending the night in a rustic-chic cabin.

      Stop 9

      Deer Creek Falls

      Deer Creek Falls

      If you’re not into camping, you’ll be searching for a warm bed and a hot meal after a day of exploring Lassen Volcanic National Park. You don’t have to search far—the tiny community of Mineral (population less than 200) lies only 13 kilometres from the park’s south-west entrance, where the Lassen Mineral Lodge offers clean, no-frills rooms, plus hearty burgers and freshly caught trout. More luxurious digs can be found at the rustic-chic Highland Ranch Resort on Childs Meadow in nearby Mill Creek. Wherever you sleep, plan a quick trip to Deer Creek Falls in the morning. This short, snow-melt-fed waterfall drops into a punchbowl swimming hole. Don’t forget your swimming gear.

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        Road Trip Snapshot

        Find out more about the amazing locations featured in this road trip. Ready to plan your trip? Print the itinerary or map your adventure to get started.

        Stop 1Redding
        777 Cypress Ave, Redding
        Stop 2Dunsmuir & Hedge Creek Falls
        4131 Dunsmuir Ave, Dunsmuir
          Stop 3Mount Shasta City & Faery Falls
          Mt Shasta
            Stop 4McCloud & McCloud Falls
            McCloud
            Stop 6McArthur Burney Falls Memorial State Park
            24898 Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway, Burney
            Stop 7Lassen Volcanic National Park
            21800 Lassen Peak Hwy, Mineral
            Stop 9Deer Creek Falls
            Deer Creek Falls

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