"Don't go chasing waterfalls," notes the line of a popular song by TLC. Yet here at Whiskeytown NRA, we encourage you to chase waterfalls - go visit them! Whiskeytown has four major waterfalls that you can visit. While in springtime you can observe the waterfalls at peak flow due to creeks gushing from melting snow, a waterfall hike in summertime offers cool respite from the scorching sun. Visit the waterfalls in each season and note what differences and similarities you find.
Detailed waterfall and information are available at the Visitor Center. You may also print these guides at home trail guides.
The age of discovery continues into the present at Whiskeytown National Recreation Area...
Two summers of trail construction work ensued and park staff opened the trail to Whiskeytown Falls for others to see and enjoy.
Boulder Creek Falls
At over 138 feet high, Boulder Creek Falls was thought to be the tallest waterfall in the park until Whiskeytown Falls was discovered in fall of 2004.
The three cascades of Boulder Creek Falls are tucked into a dark, shaded box canyon filled with moss and ferns. 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 70's. Once the logging ended the forest began to recover.
Brandy Creek Falls
Brandy Creek is noted for five large cascading falls that sweep down across the polished granite rock within an box canyon. Upper Brandy Creek Falls plunges in a unique split formation through the steep vertical walls.
The umbrella-leafed indian rhubarb is one of the first spring flowers to appear, displaying an array of brilliant pink blossoms. In the fall, the leaves of the indian rhubarb turn a bright orange color.
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
Crystal Creek Falls is the only "man-made" waterfall in the park. When the Central Valley Project's Trinity River Division project was designed in the late 1950s and early 60's, an important component was the diversion of a large portion of Trinity River water to Whiskeytown Lake and from there to the Sacramento River. The whole project was completed to increase water supply to farms and cities, provide hydroelectric power, and reduce the threat of flooding. A 17-mile tunnel was excavated to transport the water underground from Trinity Dam to the Judge Francis Carr Powerhouse. The tailings for this project were dumped in the area near Crystal Creek Falls.
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: June 19, 2020