|Photo: Justin Rocha|
[ edit ]
|Distance||9 miles (14.5 kilometers)|
|Time Required||3-5 hours|
|Elevation Gain||1400 feet (430 meters)|
|High Point||2400 feet (730 meters)|
|Best Months||April - November|
|Nearest City||Oroville, CA|
This hike offers a smorgasbord of natural delights. You’ll walk through tall stands of incense cedar and ponderosa pine, along streams shaded by bigleaf maple and dogwood, and past a multitude of spring and early summer wildflowers to Feather Falls, where the clear waters of the Fall River drop 410 feet into a granite gorge.
Views through the trees of the middle fork of the Feather River and its steep canyon walls appear at 1.5 miles; look for the smooth granite head of Bald Rock Dome looming above the river’s west bank. From here, you descend for 1 shady mile and then begin a moderate climb to a trail fork at 3.2 miles. Stay left and follow the safety railings to another trail fork. Go left again to reach the overlook.
Take Highway 70 to Oroville, exit onto Oro Dam Boulevard, head northeast, and turn right after 1.5 miles onto Olive Highway. Go 6 miles and turn right onto Forbestown Road. Go another 6 miles and turn left onto Lumpkin Road. Follow Lumpkin Road 10 miles and turn left at a Feather Falls sign for the final 1.6 miles to the trailhead.
For the first 200 yards, the path travels past dozens of madrone trees, easily recognizable by their large, shiny green leaves and peeling red bark. Bear left at a trail fork, noting that you’ll return by the right fork. Near the 0.5-mile marker, look for the scarce California nutmeg tree, which has long, sharp needles.
Reach the cool canyon shade of Frey Creek at 1.1 miles. As you gradually descend near the gurgling water, look for a swimming hole at the bottom of a two-stage waterfall to the left at 1.4 miles.
From the overlook you have a magnificent view of Feather Falls, where the aptly named Fall River drops 410 vertical feet past sheer granite cliffs to the canyon far below before joining the middle fork of the Feather River and Lake Oroville.
After imbibing this broad view of the sixth-highest waterfall in the United States, go back to the last trail fork, turn left, and walk 0.2 mile to where a small trail leads to granite boulders at the lip of the falls. Those not afraid of heights can lean against a chain-link fence and watch the water plummet all the way to the bottom of the canyon.
This side trail continues another mile upstream along the Fall River. Summer swimmers will find good swimming holes, and overnighters will find several campsites. Near the end of the trail, you’ll see some old fruit trees and an old water ditch, which are all that remain of an old homestead.
The return portion of the loop is 1.2 miles longer than the route to the falls, but it has very little elevation change. This upper portion leaves from near the overlook and offers excellent views of Frey Creek and Bald Rock Dome. It connects to the bottom portion of the loop near the trailhead.
Length: 8.8 miles loop
Hiking time: 5 hours
High point: 2,400 feet
Total elevation gain: 1,100 feet
Water: available from Frey Creek and Fall River (purify first)
Maps: USGS 7.5′ Forbestown, USGS 7.5′ Brush Creek
Information: Feather River Ranger District, Plumas National Forest
None - just enjoy...
Parking lot is paved with bathrooms and drinking fountains. This trail is very "dog friendly" and owners are asked to kindly keep Fido on a leash and cleanup after any surprises...
There are a few spots along the way to get fresh water for the dog but its a good idea to bring some extra just in case as there are long sections with no available water.
Hikers and mountain bikers are encouraged to bring plenty of water as there are no water fountains along the trail...
The closest town is Oroville (about 15 minutes away from the trailhead) and there are plenty of eating options...
This part of Butte County was the home of the Maidu Indians long before the European-Americans reached this part of California. At the time of the arrival of the early settlers the Maidu group that lived in this forest were known as the "Foothill Konkow." The Feather Falls trail passes a Native American grinding rock at one point early on. The round depressions in the rock that served as mortars for grinding acorns and other nuts are easy to make out. (Acorns contain a bitter tanic acid and have to be ground up and leached with water before they can be eaten.)
Further along on the trail one gets several views across the valley to Bald Rock Dome rising up out of the canyon several thousand feet above the Middle Fork of the Wild and Scenic Feather River. (The Feather was one of the original eight rivers to be so designated in 1968.) At 3,509 feet above sea level Bald Rock dome is not as high as the more famous monoliths in Yosemite and Kings' Canyon but it is a similar formation that traces its origins back to molten rock in middle earth 140 million years ago.
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Trailhead (39.614188, -121.266591)|
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