Some go hiking for peace of mind, some do it for exercise. Some go hiking to gain knowledge of their surroundings, while others do it to reconnect with their natural world. Our family hikes for a combination of these reasons and we do it because it gives us a chance to spend time with one another, away from the distractions of everyday life.
Our latest hike took us to Boulder Creek Falls, near Whiskeytown Lake. Meandering along the well worn trail, only the sound of our feet crunching on the hardened clay interrupted the mountain silence. Spring-like breezes teased our hair, while dappled sunlight warmed our skin. Dropping down from manzanita scrub into the lush forest of mossy oaks, pines, and ferns, white noise from the falls filled out ears with a steady tempo. With newly aroused excitement and expectation, we picked up our pace.
As we descended into the bottom of the canyon, the sun crept over the ridge, lighting the swirling waters of the creek below. Carefully, we crossed the single plank bridge to the trail on the other side. Once there, we climbed the steeply set wooden steps leading into the cool hollow. Within minutes, we spied the eighty-one-foot high falls. Amazed by their beauty, we stood admiring the gift that Mother Nature had given us.
Venturing higher into the forest, we made our way past crystal clear pools to the pinnacle of the falls where we challenged gravity, leaning over the edge, to view the creek from the fall’s perspective. We stayed up top for a while, exploring and contemplating the beauty of the green gulch. The deafening silence of the waterfalls quieted out spirits, while the misty mountain air renewed our lungs.
We descended the canyon, by way of a lower, barely used trail, and edged our way along the creek bank with a thick mat of pine needles, oak leaves, and twigs to cushion our steps. With the sun directly overhead, reflecting beautifully on the smaller waterfalls, we took the opportunity to snap a couple of photos. The way the light fell on the water was dreamlike, causing us to want to bask in the magic of the forest a little longer.
As always, we enjoyed the return hike as it gave us a chance to see our surroundings from a different perspective. We noticed things we had not seen on the way in: ground cover, in shades of rust and ochre, carpeting open sunny slopes, and grey-green creeping sage happily blanketing the feet of manzanita.
This simple 2.5 mile trek is one that can be enjoyed by most anyone at any time of the year. During spring, look for dogwoods and wildflowers in bloom. Get out of the valley heat during the summer months and dip your feet in the refreshing mountain pools. In the fall, let the golden foliage of black oak and redbud take your breath away. And, if you are like our family, use this hike as a way to get out of a stuffy house and into the crisp winter air. Any season is a good reason to enjoy nature. Happy hiking!
Directions: From Redding, drive West on the 299 toward Eureka for approximately 8 miles. Turn left on Kennedy Memorial Drive, then take an immediate right into the parking lot at the Visitor Center. This is where you will purchase your day use pass for the National Whiskeytown Recreation Area. Once you have your pass, make your way back to the 299 and turn left. Proceed west for about 7 miles until you reach Carr Powerhouse Road. Turn left and follow the road for .5 miles where you will see Mill Creek Road to the right. Turn here and follow this dirt road for about .5 miles. Bear right and ascend this steep road for another 1.5 miles. Once, you reach the end, you will see a gate with a sign that reads Boulder Creek Falls. Park here and and take the upper road for an easy day hike.