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Northern California Waterfall Hikes Between Redding and Mt Shasta


Driving along Interstate 5 in Northern California can feel monotonous, but these 3 waterfall hikes are easy to do and are a wonderful way to break up your West Coast road trip.

A detour between Redding and Mt. Shasta offers stunning mountains, forests, lakes, and waterfall hikes. It transforms a dull road trip into an exciting adventure, making unforgettable memories along the way.

If you’re traveling north through California, Redding stands as your last major resupply point until Oregon. Along highways 299 and 89, there’s a scarcity of gas and grocery stores. However, this route boasts incredible waterfall hikes.

Hatchet Creek and Hedge Creek Falls are brief stops on the trail. However, for waterfall hikes, Burney Falls and McCloud Falls stand out. They boast excellent campgrounds—Burney even offers cabins. These falls could serve as a delightful destination for a few days’ getaway.

Hatchet Creek Falls

Hatchet Falls earned its name from a notched tree trunk at its center, perfect for climbing and jumping. It quickly became our favorite spot during the hike, especially since we had it all to ourselves for an hour, having arrived early. This was one of our cherished experiences on waterfall hikes.  

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.

jumping into water at Hatchet Creek Falls
Hatchet Creek Falls
Gabi jumping into water at Hatchet Falls on summer adventure road trip
Gabi jumping into water at Hatchet Falls

Burney 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 here reminded us of the beautiful falls in Plitvice National Park Croatia.  

Family photo at Burney Falls

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.  

Burney falls

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, you can play in the lake, which has a nice beach area for swimming.  You can also rent kayaks, paddleboards, and motorboats at the lake.  

This campground has a lot to offer with hiking and mountain biking trails.  We enjoyed our three-night stay here a lot.

McCloud Falls

Like Hatchet Falls, this is a great waterfall for jumping into and also nice for swimming in. The kids enjoyed climbing over the rocks to get to the water even though it was a little more crowded than Hatchet Falls was. But that meant we had a crowd cheering us on while we jumped off the rocks into the cold pool of snowmelt.   

We parked at Fowlers Campground (I wish we had camped here because this campground is beautiful and only $15/night) 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. Stop by McCloud to grab food at Mountain Star Cafe or Kyody Coffee.

Hedge Creek Falls

We first discovered these falls on a previous road trip in 2012.  It’s a very short hike to the falls and great for smaller children as the pools are easy to access.  The kids loved that you could walk behind this waterfall. If you feel more adventurous, you can also check out Mossbrae Falls in Dunsmuir, however, it may be permanently closed now.

Make sure you fill your water bottles at the water fountain at the start of the trail.  The water here is so delicious!   Dunsmuir is a really cute town that is worth a few hours exploring or head up to Mt Shasta for some great hikes and food.

Did we miss your favorite waterfall?  Let us know in the comments or share any questions you have about this Northern California waterfall road trip.

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