Short waterfall hikes are the perfect pitstop for road trips. I get to stretch my legs, feel refreshed from the mist, and check out new places I typically would not drive to. On my drive from SoCal to Portland, I took a detour to check out two popular Northern California waterfalls – Burney Falls and McCloud Falls. Both were impressive in their own ways, either by how big the falls were or how pretty it looked with the foliage, and definitely worth the extra hour’s drive.
The first waterfall on the drive north was Burney Falls. After paying the $10 park entrance fee, we parked in the lot right next to the trailhead. From here, it’s an easy half mile walk down to the base of the fall. There’s not really a designated viewing area and we scrambled over some rocks to get closer to the falls.
Burney Falls isn’t the tallest waterfall I’ve seen, but it’s one of the wider ones spanning across a wall of rocks. The water was a dark turquoise blue that contrasted nicely against the green moss and the hazy sunlight. But my favorite thing about Burney Falls was the numerous streams and layers within the waterfall that make it look like water is flowing out of everywhere.
The next waterfall I visited was McCloud Falls and it was just a quick drive down the road. It was split into Upper, Middle and Lower Falls which are connected via a trail, but for the sake of time we opted to drive directly to the viewpoint for each fall. McCloud Falls isn’t as grand or as powerful as Burney Falls, but it was surrounded by colorful trees and foliage. I was able to get to the water at Lower Falls and capture the entire stream and waterfall with fall colors in the background.
Both Burney and McCloud Falls have actually been on my NorCal bucket list for a while, but I couldn’t justify driving 4 hours just for a waterfall. So I’m glad I got to see them on my drive up to Portland, especially around this time of the year when the leaves are turning color.