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Burney Falls in Northern California

This beautiful state park is situated at the south end of the Cascade Range of Northern California. It is a one hour drive north east of Redding, on Highway 89 near the town of Burney itself. The Burney Falls, at the very heart of the park, are among the most attractive in the World. Theodore Roosevelt described them as ‘the eighth wonder of the World’. They have a double cascade of water thundering down a 129-foot drop into the Burney Creek Gorge. The creek flows from the falls towards Lake Britton, about a mile downstream, getting wider all the way. The supply of water to this creek is year-round as it is not dependent on surface water but is supplied from underground. At the bottom of the falls, the spray creates a mist-filled basin that is refreshingly similar to air-conditioning and has rainbows dancing on the surface. Like much of this region, the falls were formed by previous volcanic activity. In this case molten lava had risen from the earth underground and water can still seep out through the porous rock around the creeks and lake. Looking closely at the falls reveals much of the water pouring from inside the cliff behind.

Parking is available at the Falls Overlook and costs $6 a day. The Overlook is above the falls as its name suggests. From below it can seem that people are stepping off the edge of the falls. In front of the falls there is a viewing area and there is a trail which loops around the falls from the Overlook to the viewing area which is only 2.4 miles long.

Burney Creek itself is where fishing opportunities are available, although there are streams and creeks all around to explore. Be careful to check which ones are within fishing limits. Varieties of bass, catfish, crappie, rainbow and brown trout are in abundance here and the fishing can be challenging. The rarely seen shy river otters live on the trout. It is possible to fish right at the base of the falls, as long as you don’t mind getting wet or having, at times, very short-distance visibility. The best time to fish here is in the spring and summer months although it is possible to get a catch into the fall as well.

There is also fishing at the Lake Britton Marina with excellent accessibility along a newly-built fishing pier. Boats can be rented and it is possible to pre-book a boat slip before arriving. Lake Britton offers many outdoor activities such as swimming, boating, canoeing and a beach as well as the fishing. It is possible to walk around the edge of the Lake for a distance of about two miles.

Several choices of campsite are available inside or near Burney Falls State Park. Most of these have been designed with accessibility for RV’s in mind. Within the park there are twenty four basic wooden cabins for rent which, with the park’s attention to environmentally friendly detail, do not have electricity or furniture, apart from bunk beds. It is suggested that campers bring their own camp table and chairs, although a picnic area is available outside the cabin. There are excellent bathroom facilities nearby. There are one hundred and twenty four campgrounds within the Burney Falls State Park too.

The park has a recently opened visitor centre (open from twelve noon till three pm) where park volunteers and rangers can answer questions. The history and geology of the park is explained and many photographs are on display. A shop stocks groceries and souvenirs and serves snacks from April through to September.

Hiking and trail-walking is a major attraction here, with plenty of walks to follow, depending on time available and capability. Five miles of hikes include part of the Pacific Crest Trail. Walks are color-coded for ease of use. Accessibility for the disabled is very good on much of the walkway.

One of the highlights of the year at Burney Falls State Park is the Heritage Day celebration. This takes place on the Sunday of Columbus Day weekend and includes demonstrations of activities, crafts and traditions dating back to the late nineteenth century. Some of the activities on display are candle making, quilting, spinning and weaving, black smithing, apple pressing, and more. The 2009 date for this event will be October 11th.

For children, there are various interactive shows arranged by Park Rangers after dark including campfire safety, videos of the Burney Falls Forest Fire of 1986 and other educational talks.

Here are some of the RV parks in the area.
  • Burney Falls Campground
  • Burney Falls Trailer Resort
  • Hat Creek Resort
  • Hat Creek Hereford Ranch RV Park & Campground
  • Lassen Pines RV Park
  • Lassen Volcanic National Park
  • Rancheria Rv Park
  • Clark Creek Lodge & Rv Resort


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