California’s finest waterfalls are legendary for their magnificence. If you like chasing waterfalls, you’ll definitely want to add some of these beautiful California cascades to your itinerary for the Golden State, particularly if you go to within the spring or early summer season, when the falls are at their most majestic!
From dramatic cascades within the mountains to picture-postcard coastal falls that tumble onto pristine seashores, you can see waterfalls in California in all places you go. In truth, there’s a waterfall even at the fringe of the driest place in the country: Darwin Falls in Death Valley National Park.
So no matter which a part of the Golden State you intend to visit, you will discover a number of waterfalls to admire!
Best Waterfalls in California
Some California waterfalls are easily viewed from the aspect of the street, or require just a brief walk to a viewing area, however others require average to strenuous hiking, or even multi-day backpacking.
In our round-up of one of the best waterfalls in California, we’ve included a combine of falls which may be simple to entry versus falls that are challenging to succeed in. We’ve included brief particulars on how to get to every waterfall, so you can determine whether it’s suited to your hiking functionality.
As a cautionary observe, some of these waterfall trails are in wilderness areas. Before venturing onto any trail, go to the official web site of the entity managing the wilderness, for current info on trails, entry roads, particular closures, and safety tips, and to evaluate whether a trail is suitable for you.
Ready to find the most stunning waterfalls in California? Let’s dive in!
Burney Falls, McArthur Burney State Park
Possibly essentially the most lovely waterfall in California, the 129-foot Burney Falls contains a curtain of cascades framed by lush greenery. Located in McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park, the waterfall is greatest viewed between April and October. Visit early or late in the day to avoid crowds!
The best part about Burney Falls is that water move persists through the summer time, when other California falls dry up. The straightforward to moderate Burney Falls Loop Trail brings you to an overlook above the falls earlier than taking you to the foot of the falls for the grand up-close view.
The green moss and lichen around the water make for beautiful photographs, and in the fall, leaf colors are a bonus. Burney Falls is certainly one of our favorite California waterfalls, as a outcome of it is each beautiful and simple to access!
Yosemite Falls, Yosemite National Park
Yosemite Falls drops an unimaginable 2,425 feet to the bottom! It is among the tallest waterfalls in the world and Yosemite National Park’s most iconic waterfall. Yosemite Falls is generally at peak flow in May, however you will discover some circulate between November and June or July.
You can view Yosemite Falls from many places in Yosemite Valley. An easy and flat one-mile loop trail results in the bottom of Lower Yosemite Falls, and a part of this trail is accessible as nicely. The spray-in-your-face viewpoint allows you to see both Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls.
For guests up for a challenge, a steep trail results in the top of Yosemite Falls. The 7.2-mile round-trip hike comes with an elevation gain of two,700 ft. The payoff? An up-close have a glance at Upper Yosemite Falls, plus excellent views of Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, and Sentinel Rock.
McWay Falls, Big Sur
McWay Falls doubtless options on the want record of each nature lover that’s planning to go to California. One of the most popular attractions in Big Sur, the delicate ribbon spills over a granite cliff onto the gorgeous beach (or ocean, relying on tides). It is the last word picture postcard!
You can view McWay Falls from California Highway 1, by pulling over and parking (safely!) on the aspect of the street. For an unobstructed view, hike the quick McWay Falls Overlook Trail in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.
The stroll to the “Big Sur waterfall” is simply 0.5 mile round journey, and one of the best hikes in Big Sur you are capable of do.
At the time of writing, the McWay Falls Overlook Trail is closed at about the half-way level as a outcome of erosion, but you’ll have the ability to nonetheless view the waterfall. There isn’t any entry to the waterfall or the beach below, however the views from afar are magical.
McCloud Falls, McCloud
The McCloud River creates three lovely waterfalls because it makes its means by way of a basalt canyon. All three waterfalls are value viewing, and fabulous picture spots. There are picnicking areas at Lower McCloud Falls.
Swimming is in style at Lower Falls and Middle Falls, however leaping in just isn’t suggested due to submerged boulders. A stone staircase at Lower Falls takes you to the edge of the water.
Start at Lower Falls and hike the River Trail to the other falls. The first zero.7 mile of the trail as much as Middle Falls is sort of flat, but then climbs by way of switchbacks to an overlook over Middle Falls, from where one other flat stretch takes you to an overlook for Upper Falls. There is not any official access to the bottom of Upper Falls.
If you’d quite not hike, you’ll have the ability to drive to the overlooks for Middle and Upper Falls after you are accomplished exploring at Lower Falls.
Bridalveil Fall, Yosemite National Park
Bridalveil Fall is the waterfall you see from Tunnel View, certainly one of Yosemite National Park’s most famous viewpoints. The 620-foot fall is tremendous highly effective within the spring, with a gentler cascade at other instances. This waterfall flows year-round.
A quick, straightforward (but uphill) trail leads to the underside of Bridalveil Fall, where you’ll find a way to really feel spray in your face. In the spring, you are likely to get wet, so a water-resistant jacket is a superb thought. This paved walk is just 0.5 mile spherical trip, for an attractive payoff!
Rainbow Falls, Mammoth Lakes
Named for the beautiful rainbows that seem throughout the falls on shiny sunny days, Rainbow Falls is a free fall curtain that tumbles a hundred and one toes to the waters below. Rainbow Falls is created by the center fork of the San Joaquin River and is half of the Devils Postpile National Monument.
From the trailhead in Reds Meadow, an easy to low moderate 4-mile trail takes you to Rainbow Falls (Upper Falls) at 1.3 miles out, and to the lesser visited Lower Falls after another zero.7 mile. The Lower Falls are additionally stunning, though the drop is just 15 toes.
During the summer time, you must take the necessary shuttle from Mammoth Lakes to Red Meadows, but at different times of the 12 months, you’ll find a way to drive as a lot as the Red Meadows car parking zone. Hiking to Rainbow Falls in Mammoth Lakes is amongst the greatest things to do in Mammoth Lakes, and maybe even in the whole Eastern Sierra!
Escondido Falls, Malibu
One of the prettiest Southern California waterfalls when flowing nicely, Escondido Falls is about the journey in addition to the vacation spot, as a end result of the hike to reach it’s shaded and exquisite. The Lower Falls are simple to achieve with a 2-mile round journey hike. This is probably considered one of the greatest waterfall hikes near Los Angeles you can do!
The Winding Way Trail to Escondido Falls is accessed off the Pacific Coast Highway. The trail goes alongside somewhat creek in Escondido Canyon, and you will notice lots of wildflowers if you hike it in spring. The riparian panorama is beautiful.
Lower Escondido Falls is a 50-foot drop into a lovely pool. The energy of the flow is dependent upon how a lot rain the area has received. Beyond the bottom of the Lower Falls, the trail is not officially sanctioned, though skilled hikers go up the bottom (or even the top!) of the Upper Escondido Falls. The Upper Falls drop about 150 ft.
Alamere Falls, Sonoma Coast
Alamere Falls is located in the Phillip Burton Wilderness Area, part of Point Reyes National Seashore. The tidefall drops over a 40-foot cliff onto the sand at Wildcat Beach, making for a spectacular sight, especially when the move is full.
The dangerous news is that the spherical journey hike to Alamere Falls is thirteen miles long, from Palomarin, the closest trailhead. From the trailhead, hike to Wildcat Campground, and from there, stroll one mile south on Wildcat Beach during low tide to view the waterfall.
Alamere Falls and McWay Falls are the only two tidefalls on the California Coast, and Alamere Falls is an enormous draw despite the lengthy hike to get there. Amenities on the falls are minimal to none, requiring preparedness on the a half of guests.
Kings Creek Falls, Lassen Volcanic National Park
Kings Creek Falls is amongst the top sights in Lassen Volcanic National Park, one of the less visited of California’s nationwide parks. The massive 30-foot waterfall roars over the cliff, framed by moss and ferns and different greenery that make for a spectacular sight from the overlook.
The three-mile loop to Kings Creek Falls is rated reasonable, primarily as a end result of the return is via a steep stone staircase. You can even select to return the way in which you descended seven hundred feet to the overlook.
The trail passes through a meadow on the way in which in, and you could even see wildflowers in bloom if you go to in season. Wear correct hiking boots with good grip, as a end result of the trail could be muddy and the steps slippery, and you could encounter snow into the summer season.
Darwin Falls, Panamint Springs
Darwin Falls is a picturesque waterfall that may be found on the western edge of Death Valley National Park, one of the driest locations on the planet. Better nonetheless, the waterfall flows yr round!
Located in a lush oasis that can be accessed via a 2-mile spherical journey hike, Darwin Falls features lush vegetation, birds, bugs, and frogs. It is an incredible sight in the desert! The hike is comparatively easy, with lower than 300 toes of elevation change, however involves some creek crossings.
The trailhead is reached via a considerably tough, unmarked dust road about one mile west of Panamint Springs Resort. The street is taken into account generally satisfactory for sedans, but take it gradual.
Nevada Fall, Yosemite National Park
One of Yosemite’s large waterfalls, Nevada Fall is fashioned by the Merced River, and tumbles 594 feet down a granite cliff. You can see Nevada Fall from Glacier Point if you don’t wish to hike.
To get up-close views of the drama of Nevada Fall, you’ve a choice of two trails: the Mist Trail, or the John Muir Trail. While the hikes are difficult, you’ll have the ability to see each Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall on the hike, along with some of the park’s breathtaking scenery.
You can also go up Mist Trail and return via John Muir Trail for a much less steep descent. Mist Trail is about 5.four miles round journey, and steep, with an elevation achieve of two,000 ft via a series of 600 steps set at spray-in-your-face distance from the falls, adopted by a series of steep switchbacks.
Vernal Fall, Yosemite National Park
Vernal Fall is a large waterfall located in Yosemite National Park. Mist Trail, additionally called the Giant Staircase, is one of Yosemite’s hottest challenging trails, and this trail takes you to both Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall.
On the Mist Trail, you trek up right alongside the falls, enjoying breathtaking views, and a great drenching from the spray in spring and early summer. While hiking the complete Mist Trail is challenging, most visitors can hike the beginning zero.8 mile to a footbridge for a wonderful view of Vernal Fall.
From the footbridge, hike up as far as you want after which turn again, or continue to the highest of the fall for views of Emerald Pool and Silver Apron after which on to Nevada Fall!
Whiskeytown Falls, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area
Whiskeytown Falls is a three-level waterfall that tumbles 220 ft all the way down to the bottom. Located within the Whiskeytown National Recreation Area near Redding, Whiskeytown Falls was solely discovered in 2004.
The James K. Carr Trail, one of the in style trails in the park, leads to the falls. The trail is rated strenuous, at about three.four miles spherical trip, with an elevation achieve of about 700 toes.
The trail is shaded, making its method by way of coniferous forests, and has some steep sections. From the bottom of the waterfall, you possibly can climb stairs to access an higher viewing platform.
Horsetail Fall, Yosemite National Park
Horsetail Fall, which flows over the face of El Capitan in Yosemite Valley, comes into its personal for a couple of weeks in February every year, when it glows a fiery orange at sundown when conditions are proper, with a clear sky.
Photographers flock to the spot in the course of the present, to seize the distinctive sight of the pure Firefall. Because of the crowds, parking restrictions are imposed on the site by the park in the course of the couple of weeks in mid to late February. From the parking lot to the viewing space near El Capitan Picnic Area, it’s a few 3-mile stroll round journey.
Horsetail Fall only flows through the winter, and even then, you may miss it, because it isn’t very obvious aside from when it glows like an orange ribbon of fireside.
Feather Falls, Oroville
Feather Falls is a spectacular year-round waterfall positioned in the Plumas National Forest. The cascade plunges 410 ft, making for a dramatic sight. Feather Falls is widely thought-about to be top-of-the-line massive waterfalls in California outside of Yosemite National Park.
The hike to the falls additionally contains fabulous views of Bald Rock Dome and Bald Rock Canyon. The higher trail to the falls, which is easier than the decrease trail, is available in at about 9 miles round journey, and is rated reasonable. Allow loads of time and carry meals and water.
Feather Falls is finest considered between spring and fall. In the spring, you will note manzanita in bloom, and many wildflowers, making it an attractive time to visit.
Note: As of the time of writing, the trail has been damaged by wildfire, and is probably not open.
Frey Creek Falls, Oroville
Along the best way to see Feather Falls in the Plumas National Forest, you’ll find a way to see one other stunning waterfall! The 30-foot Frey Creek Falls come up on the higher trail to Feather Falls, about 1.7 miles from the trailhead.
A footbridge over Frey Creek lets you see, and photograph, Frey Creek Falls from the trail. In the winter, typically between November and march, tens of millions of migrating ladybugs may be found at Fern Creek.
Potem Creek Falls, Round Mountain
Potem Creek tumbles 70 ft into a wonderful swimming hole. Located within the Shasta Lake National Recreation Area of Shasta-Trinity National Forest, Potem Falls is an off-the-beaten-track gem price looking for out if you’re within the area.
Although the flow of Potem Falls is strongest within the winter and spring, you’ll love visiting in the summer or early fall, to chill off within the pool. You’ll get sun if you visit around mid day.
The hike to Potem Falls is each short (0.6 mile round trip) and straightforward. From the trailhead, the trail goes right down to the base of the falls gradually via a few switchbacks.
Grizzly Falls, Sequoia National Forest
Located within the Sequoia National Forest, Grizzly Falls may be partially viewed from Generals Highway, the scenic street that connects Sequoia National Park and King Canyon National Park.
A tremendous quick and straightforward trail takes you from the Grizzly Falls Picnic Area to the bottom of the falls. The walk is simply 0.1 mile round trip! Grizzly Falls plunges 80 feet over a granite cliff and you will get close sufficient to feel the mist in your face.
During the spring and early summer season, Grizzly Falls has a torrential flow from snow soften. At different instances of the 12 months, it’s extra sedate, but still beautiful. The street isn’t open within the winter.
Brandy Creek Falls, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area
Another of the several stunning waterfalls near Redding, Brandy Creek Falls is located within the Whiskeytown National Recreation Area. Brandy Creek Falls has five tiers, with the Upper Brandy Creek Falls tumbling down in a split style.
The trail to Brandy Creek Falls is rated as reasonable, at 3 miles spherical journey and an elevation acquire of over 2,000 toes. The forested trail makes its means along an old logging road and arrives at a viewing level for Lower Brandy Creek.
You can stroll additional, over two plank bridges constructed over the creek, to a viewing point for Upper Brandy Creek Falls. Adventurous hikers can even make their way to the upper falls, using footholds carved into the rock face.
Salmon Creek Falls, Big Sur
Located within the Los Padres National Forest in Big Sur, Salmon Creek Falls is a 120-foot waterfall that can be seen by way of an excellent brief hike off California Highway 1, about zero.3 mile each way. The falls are break up at the high, but be part of midway to create one cascade that tumbles down the rockface.
Some scrambling and walking over a fallen log are required to get to the base of the falls, but you probably can view the falls from the tip of the trail. The falls are powerful after winter rains, at which era you might not be capable of get to the base.
Poison oak is rampant along the slim trail so wear full pants and a long-sleeved prime, and watch your step.
Located within the Shasta Cascade space near Dunsmuir, Mossbrae Falls is certainly one of the most picturesque waterfalls in California. Landscape photographers love this waterfall, and with good reason! The 175-foot-wide weeping wall of water falls about fifty two toes to the bottom.
As of the time of writing, there is no legal public hiking trail to the falls, and strolling beside the railway tracks to get to the fall is in opposition to the regulation. Reportedly the Hedge Creek Falls Trail is being extended to offer safe access to Mossbrae Falls, so put this one on your listing for the longer term.
Illilouette Fall, Yosemite National Park
Yet another of Yosemite National Park’s beautiful waterfalls, Illilouette Fall could be seen from the Panorama Trail. The waterfall is fullest within the spring and early summer time, and at these times, you can see plenty of wildflowers alongside the trail.
The Panorama Trail begins at Glacier Point, and the hike to the viewpoint for the falls and back is four miles. This hike is strenuous: you start by descending about 1,200 toes and should climb back all that way to get again.
Along with Illilouette Fall, you probably can see Half Dome, and Vernal and Nevada Falls on this hike. If you hike all the best way all the means down to the underside, it’s about 5 miles round journey. The trail ends at some fairly creeks, the place you presumably can chill out and have a picnic meal.
Tokopah Falls, Sequoia National Park
Tokopah Falls is a cascade in Sequoia National Park that tumbles 1,200 toes to the underside. Formed by the Kaweah River, the waterfall is fullest in spring and early summer time, and is substantially decreased in the summertime: in dry years, you could not even see it by late summer season. But when in flow, it is gorgeous.
The trail to Tokopah Falls is both straightforward and scenic, and subsequently extremely popular. The granite canyon, carved by glaciers, is scenic even with out the waterfall. The trail is about four miles out and again, with an elevation gain of about 530 feet. The climb is gradual, although, so it’s not troublesome.
Crystal Creek Falls, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area
Crystal Creek Falls is located in the Whiskeytown National Recreation Area near Redding. The solely man-made waterfall in the park, Crystal Creek Falls was created by a diversion of the Trinity River into Whiskeytown Lake.
Crystal Creek Falls is full and fast flowing in the winter and spring, however turns into extra sedate in the summertime. There is a small swimming gap on the base of the falls.
The hike to the falls is flat, straightforward, and quick at zero.5 mile spherical trip. It is paved, and due to this fact accessible. The trail provides lovely views of the mountains. It may be very well-liked so arrive early to beat the crowds on good weather days.
Hedge Creek Falls, Dunsmuir
Located within the Shasta Cascade space, Hedge Creek Falls is a beautiful waterfall that could be accessed through a brief and really scenic hike. There is a small cave behind the waterfall that hikers can entry. The out and again trail is simply 0.6 mile in length.
In the fall, you have the added bonus of beautiful foliage shade, and you can proceed on to the Sacramento River if you wish. There is a viewing platform on the river, from the place you can get a great view of Mt. Shasta.
The trailhead is situated close to Interstate 5, making Hedge Creek Falls a popular stop. Arrive early to beat the crowds!
Map of the Best Waterfalls in California
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