"Don't go chasing waterfalls," notes the line of a popular song by TLC. Yet here at Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, we encourage you to chase waterfalls - go visit them! The park has four major waterfalls, or cascades. Currently, Whiskeytown Falls and Crystal Creek Falls are open to the public. Brandy Creek Falls and Boulder Creek Falls remain closed due to post-Carr Fire environmental hazards and safety concerns. Continue reading for information on each waterfall or download our trail guides for each waterfall trail.
The tallest cascade in the park, Whiskeytown Falls is reached via a strenuous 1.7 mile hike (3.4 miles roundttrip) on the James K. Carr Trail. The trail follows some steep sections of old logging roads and climbs approximately 700 feet to the falls. Offering good exercise, shade, views through the mixed conifer forest, and a backcountry experience, the James K. Carr Trail to Whiskeytown Falls is the most popular trail in the park. At the base of the waterfall, be sure and carefully climb up the cement stairs to the upper viewing platform.
Boulder Creek Falls
Due to post-Carr Fire environmental hazards and safety concerns, Boulder Creek Falls Trail remains closed. The three cascades of Boulder Creek Falls are tucked into a dark, shaded box canyon filled with moss and ferns. Like much of the park, the forest around Boulder Creek Falls was selectively logged in the 1950s. As you hike to the falls, you are on the main hauling road that carried old-growth Douglas fir and ponderosa pines to the sawmill. When the park was established in 1965, as part of the compromise, some logging was allowed to continue into the early 1970's.
Brandy Creek Falls
The Brandy Creek Falls Trail remains closed due to post-Carr Fire environmental hazards and safety concerns. In 2021, the park hopes to repair and restore the trail in its entirety.
The trail to the falls was improved in 2005 with hand-hewn rock steps and a metal railing to help hikers safely reach the top of the waterfall. Please stay on the trail and watch your footing on the slippery rocks.
Crystal Creek Falls
The short 0.3 mile trail to Crystal Creek Falls is paved, flat, and accessible. The shallow natural pool at the base of the cascade is a popular spot for swimming and wading in the summer.
When it is necessary to shut down the Carr Powerhouse for maintenance or to clean the tunnel, the valve is turned and the excess water from the tunnel spills into Crystal Creek.
When the overflow structure at the falls was built, the Bureau of Reclamation slightly rerouted Crystal Creek. The creek was moved about 50 feet to the left to make a shortcut over the cliff, creating this picturesque waterfall.
Last updated: October 26, 2020