Our visit to Burney Falls was not planned. Sometimes you get the unexpected beauty while not even looking for it. We were traveling for weeks and passing the Shasta County in California. We decided to stay the night in a nearby state park which happened to be McArthur Burney Falls Memorial State Park. In the morning, we woke up early and decided to check out the waterfalls. What we saw, blew our mind away. It was a gloomy winter morning. The gloominess of the day made the waterfall more dramatic, and we loved what we saw. In the 1850s, there was a pioneer and early settler named Samuel Burney lived in this area. This waterfall was named after him.
Burney Falls is huge- though the height is 129 ft, this waterfall is 250 ft wide. It never dries out and consistently flows with a rate of 100 gallons of water per day fed from an underground spring. So, unlike any other waterfall, you will see this waterfall flowing any time and day of the year and you can plan to visit this waterfall any season. The amazing fact about this waterfall is that it is easily accessible. You don’t have to hike much, and you will be able to see one spectacular waterfall. You have several options to view this waterfall. There is a Burney Falls Overlook within a very short walk from the parking lot. From this overlook, you will be able to see the falls and the creek bed it flows from. It gives a wide perspective from a distance. To get to the base of the falls, you have to continue a 0.3-mile paved path with an elevation change of 160 ft from the overlook. This paved trail will take you to the base of the waterfalls. From the base, you will see the amazing view of Burney Falls. I would recommend going to the base of this waterfall. There is another trail- Burney Falls Loop trail, a 1.2-mile loop, which will first lead you to the base of the waterfalls and then take you around the backside, which eventually takes you back to the parking lot. If you are taking this full waterfall trail loop, you will cross over two beautiful bridges in one mile. In total, this state park has five miles of hiking trails that pass through the beautiful greeneries including Burney Creek Trail and Pioneer Cemetery Trail. Pacific Crest Trail also passes through this park. This was the first thing that took my attention while entering the park.
In our case, we went during the winter month. The waterfall was still flowing, but it was very cold. At the base, there was ice on the rocks, and it was slippery. We had to be cautious while walking on the rocks. Any wrong-footing might lead to any kind of injury. So, if you are visiting the waterfalls during winter, please be careful while going to the base. Visiting this place during the summer month is more amazing. But the problem is that there will be a lot of tourists. If you want to avoid crowds, try to visit during the weekdays and early in the morning. If you have gone to the base of this fall, you know how amazing it looks from the bottom with all those misty atmospheres. This waterfall is full of drama. The water of the pool below the falls is always cold year-round, rarely the temperature rises over 42 degrees even in the summer month. As because the source of Burney Falls is an underground spring, the water is clean and clear. The vivid blue water looks gorgeous along with the waterfall.
Camping is available in this park. There are more than 100 family campsites where you can stay and enjoy the night in the park. In case you do not want to camp, you can still stay in the cabins (one- or two-bedroom options). During the peak season, it will be better if you reserve the campground or cabin in advance. You can reserve here:
Overall, visiting this waterfall and staying the night in the campground was a pleasant experience for us.
At a glance
- Activity: sightseeing, hiking, fly-fishing, boating, camping
- Address: 24898 Highway 89, Burney, California 96013
- Park Hours: Sunrise to sunset
- Best time to visit: April to October
- Entrance fee: 10 USD per vehicle. The Park only accept cash payment (September to May). So please bring cash and you have to pay the fee by envelope at the entrance booth.
- Contact: 530-335-2777
- Please note that vehicles over 32 feet cannot go through the entrance for day-use or camping areas. Only a limited number of parking spots are available for the oversized vehicle (less than 32 feet in length). Please check out the parking spots and specific days regarding the oversized vehicle.
- If you do not get parking inside the park, come back later. Please note that, if you park outside the park along Highway 89, there is a possibility that you may get a citation, or your vehicle may be towed.
- As always, please practice leave no trace principle. Each of our combined actions can keep any place wild, beautiful, and amazing.
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