In this blog I will
help you to plan your trip to Central Northern California.
The city of
Redding will be our “starting and ending point”; I will describe the places I visited
North and East of the city, in Shasta and Siskiyou Counties.
Loop” is a 200 miles road-trip that visits several waterfall locations, among
the most beautiful waterfalls in California, as well as other great outdoor hikes.
You can add to
this trip itinerary additional nearby northern California Parks or connect it to
your Oregon trip.
Below, I will
describe my recommended trip and short description and link to each location.
Addition North California blog posts:
- McArthur Burney Falls State Park
Lake Britton – The Bridge From the movie "Stand By Me”
- Potem Creek Falls, Shasta-Trinity National Forest
- Hatchet Creek Falls, Shasta County
- McCloud River Falls, Shasta-Trinity National Forest
- Lake Siskiyou and Faery falls, Shasta County
- Heart and Castle Lakes Hike, Shasta County
- Hedge Creek Falls, Shasta County
- Castle Crags State Park
I have been
here several times, on my way from California to Oregon vacations and also recently
(Oct. 2021) where I dedicate a weekend to explore this region and to do the “waterfall
As always in my
blogs, pictures are important part of my visiting experience and I have many
pictures in each blog.
The Road Trip Planner:
When coming to
plan your visit you should ask yourself few questions:
- How long you
plan to dedicate to this area?
- What are your
main interests (hiking, fishing, lake activities, only viewpoints,) and ability
How many days to plan for:
I will recommend
dedicating to this trip 3 full days.
My 3 days plan
for this “Waterfall Loop” does not take into consideration visiting the nearby Lassen
Volcanic National Park (2 days) or Lava Beds National Monument (1 day).
Yes, you can do
this 200 miles drive in one long day, starting early in the morning and drive
between locations, only come to each location for a very short visit and only enjoy
viewpoints with short walks without any hike.
attractions/parks in my recommendation list are open year-round.
month you must take into consideration the rain and also snowstorms that may
cause you to change your plans (this is especially relevant for high elevation
mountain parks like Castle Crags SP and Lassen Volcanic NP).
ideal for best rivers water flows and best waterfalls experience.
Warm Summer is
best time for swimming, Kayaking and lakes activities, but it can be very crowded,
especially at main attractions locations and parks.
The autumn or
early winter may be the perfect time to visit here, a lot fewer other visitors
so you can really enjoy your hikes and you will have yellow color leaves
1 day road-trip plan:
In one day trip this will be mainly driving to the different locations and viewing the
waterfalls with only short walks + one hike at the afternoon.
From Redding drive
east to McArthur Burney Falls State Park (during summer weekends it is better
to be here early morning before it gets crowded). Plan for 1 hour drive + 1
hour at the park, short walk down to the waterfall base.
Drive to McCloud
River Falls, visit all 3 waterfalls by driving their parking lot (no need to
hike) and enjoy the view, walk down to the Middle Fall base, this waterfall is
the most impressive of all 3 waterfalls. Plan for 1-2 hours visit.
River Falls drive east to Castle Lake and hike to Heart Lake, one of the best
hikes in northern California. This is 2-3 hours hike (total 2.4 miles), the view
from Heart Lake during the afternoon is worth the climb.
If you do not
want to hike to Heart Lake or it is already too late at the afternoon you can
visit Lake Siskiyou and the nearby Faery falls (short 1.5-mile easy hike) or visit
Hedge Creek Falls, this is 30-60 minutes stop on your I5 south drive back to
3 days plan:
In my 3 days suggestion
I will combine some driving, waterfall viewing, and hiking.
I describe the driving
loop counterclockwise, but it can be done also in the opposite direction.
directions I recommend spending 2 nights at the same place, Mount Lassen town (or
other nearby locations) just off I5.
If you are camping
than you are more flexible and can use the National Forest and the many available
Hatchet Creek Falls or Potem Creek
Falls side visit:
If you did road-trip
clockwise and you are driving from McArthur Burney Falls to Redding and you
still have time, I highly recommend visiting Hatchet Creek Falls or Potem Creek
Falls. I’m not recommending visiting them on your way from Redding to McArthur
Burney Falls because I want to make sure you are getting to Burney Falls early in
the morning, before the crowd and the traffic, and that you will have enough time
to properly hike and enjoy McCloud River Falls.
Day 1 (McArthur Burney Falls State
Park, McCloud River Falls):
From Redding drive
east to McArthur Burney Falls
State Park, this
is 63-mile-long drive (1hr 15 min). In Summer and weekends, it is important to
be here early morning before it gets crowded and waiting time. Plan for 1.5-hour
drive + 1 hour at the park, walk down to the waterfall base.
You can extend
your park visit by hiking one of the forest trails to the park large lake.
From McArthur Burney Falls Drive to McCloud River Falls, here we will
do our main hike for the day.
I recommend to
park at the lower waterfall parking lot (just follow the signs).
From here you
will hike 4 miles along the river to see Middle Fall (this waterfall is the most
beautiful of all 3 waterfalls), climb the trail and keep hiking all the way to
Upper waterfall. Plan for 3-4 hours visit here.
visit drive west and sleep at Mount Shasta (you will have 2 nights here).
Day 2 (Faery falls, Lake Siskiyou, Castle Lake, Heart Lake):
Start your day
visiting Faery falls, a short 20-minutes’
drive to the trailhead and 2 hours of easy-going hike to the waterfall and back.
From here you
can go and spend some time at Lake Siskiyou or drive up to
After enjoying the
lakes activity, the day highlight will be the hike to Heart Lake.
Lake parking the trail will take you up into the mountains above Castle Lake,
plan for 1 hour hiking up, additional 1 hour at the top and 1 hour hiking back
down. If you can plan your visit to the afternoon just before sunset, you will
get the best view of mount Shasta glowing with sunset light.
visit drive back to your hotel at Mount Shasta.
Day 3 (Castle Crags State Park, Hedge
Creek Falls, Mossbrae Falls):
Shasta drive south on I5, day 3 main attraction is visiting Castle Crags State Park and hiking to Castle
On your way
south you can have a short 30-60 minutes stop and hike at Hedge Creek Falls.
You can also
hike to Mossbrae Falls, I did not visit
here yet, so I do not have a dedicated Blog. The hike along the train tracks can
be dangerous but the waterfall view is worth it.
The Castle dome
hike (5.2 miles with elevation gains of 2,200 ft.) is long and with a lot of elevation
gain, plan for half day visit, the surrounding mountains and gorge view from
the top of the mountain worth it.
After your Castle
Crags State Park visit you will drive south on I5 to Redding.
If you have enough
time and energy on your way south, you can visit Lake Shasta Caverns National Natural Landmark (located north
of lake Shasta bridge crossing).
Lassen Volcanic National Park:
I do not
describe here visit at this beautiful park. From McArthur Burney Falls State Park it is only 40
miles south and you are reaching Lassen Volcanic National Park entrance.
You need to
dedicate at 2 more day just to this park visit.
The Park main
road (highway 89) is close during winter month and depending on slow level it may
be open only at late summer.
Coming from Oregon:
description I started my road-trip loop recommendation from the city of Redding.
road-trip planner is located at the northern part of California you can start your
visit here by coming from the north, from Oregon.
You can drive
south on the main I5 or approach this area from the east, driving south on
highway 97 (from Bend and Klamath Falls).
If you are
coming/going to Klamath Falls or Bend Oregon I highly recommend adding 1
day visit at Lava Beds National
Things I do not cover in my blogs:
I do not cover
in my blog accommodations arrangements as I mainly sleep in campgrounds and in
with a link to the detailed blog post:
Crags 6000-feet tall granite spires are located above Castle Crags State Park.
The Park offers a variety of camping, picnicking, hiking, and fishing
The Park is
located just off highway 5, 14 miles south of the City of Mount Shasta and 21
miles north of Shasta Lake.
A very short 5-minute
walk will take you to a 30-foot-high waterfall and access to the Sacramento
The trail is
located at the town of Dunsmuir, north of Redding on highway I5, exit 732.
heart-shaped lake located above Castle Lake. A short but highly rewording 1.3
miles hike (800 feet elevation gain) climb up from Castle Lake will bring you
to the high ridge with a clear view of Mt. Shasta and Castle Lake below you.
One of my most
recommended hike in this area.
is a reservoir formed by Box Canyon Dam on the Sacramento River, located just
2.3 miles from Mount Shasta, in Siskiyou County, near Pioneer, CA.
Fall hike is highly recommended, a short 1.5-mile hike will take you to the 50-foot
River has three impressive waterfalls along a short river gorge section, you
can enjoy the waterfalls viewpoints or hike the 4 miles trail that is
connecting all 3 waterfalls.
are located 5 miles east of McCloud on
highway 89 in Shasta-Trinity National Forest.
Falls State Park attraction is Burney Falls, probably one of the most beautiful
waterfalls in California. Short trail will take you to the waterfall viewpoint
and to the bottom of the waterfall.
The Park is
located northeast of Redding, six miles north of Highway 299 on Highway 89 near
Falls, or known also as Lion Slide Falls, is a popular swimming hole and cliff
jumping destination in Shasta County. The trail and the waterfall are on
private property, visiting here is at your own risk.
Located just off
highway 299 on Big Bend Road, between Redding and Burney.
You can visit
here on your way to/from McArthur Burney Falls.
Located east of
Redding on highway 299 in Shasta-Trinity National Forest the 70-foot-tall Potem
Creek Falls drop is impressive, and it has a large swimming pool. 7 miles forest
road and a short walk will lead you to this hidden gem.
You can visit
here on your way to/from McArthur Burney Falls.
Additional nearby attractions:
On top of the recommended
loop you can visit several other National Parks and
nature attractions at the Central Northern California.
I still do not have dedicated blog post for the below nearby location: