McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park certainly isn’t easy to get to. It sits on the eastern edge of the Cascade Range, between Mount Shasta and Lassen Peak.
The park’s centerpiece is the 129-foot Burney Falls, once proclaimed by President Theodore Roosevelt as “the eighth wonder of the world.” Burney Falls isn’t the highest or largest waterfall in the state, but it’s arguably the most spectacular.
|The view from the base of Burney Falls|
Why? Because the water isn’t just flowing from the creek that feeds it from above. It’s actually flowing through the surface of the rocks behind, fed by an underground river. Which makes it ultra wide and produces a flow of some 100 million gallons of water a day, year round.
During the few hours we had slated to spend in the park, we planned on hiking the Fall Loop Trail. But once we got to the base of the falls, the kids wanted to climb on the rocks down to the waters’ edge. Change in plans.
The hike: Follow Falls Trail past the first lookout point. The trail is paved for a couple hundred yards with a few switchbacks down toward the falls. A few tips for visiting with kids:
- The trail is a bit steep, making it tough on little legs on the return (totally doable, just be prepared)
- If you only have a few hours, skip the other trails & spend your time on the rocks in front of Burney Falls – the view is breathtaking
- We dare you to put your toes in the water!
- Take a look around at the wildlife along the waters’ edge – we spotted spiders, squirrels, moths & more
- Summer visits to the park can be hot & crowded, but temperatures in the canyon at the base of the falls are usually cool & misty
|Think he liked it?|
- The main draw here is the short trail to the base of Burney Falls
- Visitor center, which includes displays of wildlife through the seasons, plus a short film on the history of Burney Falls
- There are five miles of hiking trails (plus, the Pacific Crest Trail passes through the park)
- Fun family “Discovery Quest” invites visitors on a park treasure hunt; answer 14 questions to earn a patch
- Water activities such as fishing, swimming & boating are popular on nearby Lake Britton (as is fishing at Burney Creek)
|Side view of the falls|
- For McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park hours, call (530) 335-2777
- There is an $8/day fee to enter the park
- Download the official McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park brochure here
- Summer & spring are warm or hot; fall & winter can be cool
- More than 100 family camping sites are available – plus a number of one- & two-room cabins (sans electricity, but complete with propane heaters & platform bunk bends); for pricing details, see the McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park page at Reserve America
- General store provides camp supplies
- Nearby state parks: Ahjumawi Lava Springs State Park & Castle Crags State Park
McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park is 65 miles east of Redding, 6 miles north of Highway 299 on Highway 89, about 11 miles north of Burney, CA.
For more on our 2012 Northern California road trip adventures, check out:
- 4 Family-Friendly NorCal Pit Stop Adventures
- Exploring Humboldt Redwoods State Park With Kids
- Exploring Lava Beds National Monument With Kids
Interested in learning about other California State Parks? See the list of spots we’ve visited at exploring California State Parks with kids.