Boulder Creek Falls

Boulder Creek Falls
Boulder Creek Falls

NPS

Note: due to post-Carr Fire environmental hazards and safety concerns, this area of the park is closed. The trail is not open at this time.

Difficulty level

Moderate
Suitable for hikers, bicyclists and equestrians

Length

5.5 miles round trip using South Shore Drive access
2 miles round trip using Mill Creek Road access NOTE: a 4X4 vehicle is recommended on Mill Creek Road

Elevation

1,270 to 2,250 feet South Shore Drive access
2,170 to 2,250 feet Mill Creek Road access




Enter at your own risk

The Carr Fire burned through 98% of the park’s forested lands in the summer of 2018. Be aware of hazards created by the fire, including falling trees and limbs, burned out stump holes, abandoned mine features, and loose rocks. Watch the weather and do not hike if rain is forecast. Rain storms present the possibility of flash flooding, landslides and debris flows in the fire area. Stay on established roads and trails and report hazards to park dispatch, (530) 242-3431.

Directions

South Shore Drive Access: Starting at the Whiskeytown Visitor Center drive 7 miles west on Hwy 299. Turn left at the Carr Powerhouse, and follow the road all the way past the powerhouse itself. When the paved road ends take a sharp left onto South Shore Drive. Continue 2.7 miles to the trailhead which is located on the right side of the road. Limited parking is available across the road. The same trailhead can also be approached from Kennedy Memorial Drive. From the dam, drive west 4.3 miles. Just before the gate at Dry Creek Group Campground, turn left. Follow South Shore Drive 2.7 miles to the trailhead.

Mill Creek Road access: From the Visitor Center, take Highway 299 west for seven miles to the Carr Powerhouse turnoff on the left. Take Carr Powerhouse Road to Mill Creek Road, located on the right ½ mile from the highway. Mill Creek Road is a dirt road that may be closed after the first winter storms and reopened in late spring. At the road crossing just past the big tank, stay to the right. You will follow Mill Creek Road steadily uphill for 1.3 miles until you reach the trailhead. At the end of the road, you will see a wide spot for parking and two paths.

Trail Description

South Shore Drive Access
The first mile of the trail follows a wide, exposed logging road through a thicket of white leaf manzanita, knobcone pine, redbud, wild grape and poison oak. Near the creek this brushland transitions into a forest of ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, and canyon live oak. Look for ladybugs in a clearing just before the first creek crossing. Thousands have been seen next to the side of the trail on sunny days in fall, winter and early spring. The trail follows the creek for the next half mile, crossing Boulder Creek and a seasonal creek four times. Bracken and sword ferns abound along the creek. Just past the third crossing, on both sides of the trail, are the deteriorating foundations of a residence last occupied in the 1960s.

A little farther on, the trail forks; take the right fork. You will come to a nice stand of big leaf maples as you approach the final crossing. Approaching the falls, the trail drops down into a cool watershed. The creek leading from the falls is visible, crossing the road. The sign for the short side trail to the falls will be on your left. Follow the steps up the hill to a rocky vantage point where the main falls can be seen. The falls directly ahead are 81 feet tall with an additional 28 feet of cataracts above. Plants that flourish in this riparian habitat are tiger lily, solomon seal and chain fern. The trail continues on to Mill Creek Road. Turn right and walk to Carr Powerhouse, 1.7 miles distant. Or, return the way you came.

NOTE: Wet and slippery stones make stream crossings dangerous most of the year. Never take long strides or leaps. It is advisable
to find a shallow spot and wade across.

Mill Creek Road access
From the parking area you will see two paths.The upper path on the left is the trailhead. After a short initial climb, the trail evens out and is a fairly easy walk to the falls, which you will find on your right. This access to Boulder Creek Falls is recommended during the summer months because it is well shaded and much shorter than the trail to the falls from South Shore Drive.

Geology

Boulder Creek cuts through Copley greenstone, a Devonian metamorphic rock of near- shore oceanic origin formed about 400 million years ago. It ranges in color from dull orange and light brown (weathered) to dark blue-green. Along the trail and in the creek bed you will see numerous areas where the greenstone is capped with granitic boulders. These are debris flows from the Shasta Bally batholith (Cretaceous, 133 million years) that from time to time have washed down the mountain into the creek valley. Several hundred yards above the falls, a particularly good example of this formation may be seen. Across Mill Creek Road at the upper trailhead is a majestic ravine that follows the Hoadley fault through much of the park. The Hoadley is an inactive extensional fault, slightly older than the Shasta Bally Batholith.

Last updated: December 16, 2020

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 188
Whiskeytown , CA 96095

Phone:

(530) 242-3400

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