Whiskeytown Falls Trail – With Great Effort Comes Great Reward


The Whiskeytown Falls Trail is located in the western area of Whiskeytown National Recreation Area. The trail is rated as moderately difficult and it certainly lives up to this classification. From the trailhead to the falls you are looking at 1.7 miles of dirt trail. The trail begins at a slight downhill angle until you come to the first crossing of Crystal Creek, which is less than a quarter of a mile from the trailhead. From this point get ready to climb until you reach the falls.

Whiskeytown Falls was “re-discovered” in 2004 by the park staff. It had originally been found in the late 1960’s but was kept a local secret by a few park rangers and outdoorsman to keep the human presence at these falls as low as possible. Once the area was found again, rangers and trail staff began building the trail to the 220 foot high, three-tiered waterfall for all to enjoy.

The hike to the top wanders through a mixed forest of oak and pine. Wildflowers and blackberries can be found along the trail in the late spring and summer. Along the entire route, you can either hear or see Crystal Creek flowing in the ravine below you. You will cross over this creek twice throughout your journey. But don’t worry, there are wooden bridges. So don’t expect to get wet feet at any time.

Check out the below video of my recent hike to these amazing falls!

The trail is primarily shaded and there are several benches along the way to stop and rest on if needed. If you’ve packed a picnic lunch, there are even a couple of picnic tables on the side of the trail about halfway up. I would recommend having your picnic once you reach the falls though. The view is much more entertaining there! The base of the waterfall is very shady and cool. It feels wonderful on a hot summer day after that uphill hike. This being said, you might want to bring a light sweater or long sleeve shirt in the cooler months to keep from getting chilled here.

Dogs are welcome on the trail, but they must remain on the leash at all times. Horses and mountain bikes are not permitted. You will need to be sure you have either an annual or day pass to park at the trailhead. The parking lot is quite small and fills up quickly during the tourist season so it is wise to arrive early. I highly recommend this trail if you are visiting the area! Just remember to bring lots of water and snacks as this short but uphill journey can take a lot out of you if you aren’t used to this type of terrain.

Getting There

From CA Interstate 5 take Hwy 299 West towards downtown Redding. Follow Hwy 299 approximately 16 miles into Whiskeytown National Recreation Area. Once past the lake, you will turn left onto Crystal Creek Rd. Follow this road for 5 miles until you come to the Whiskeytown Falls Trailhead parking lot.

If you do not have an annual or day use pass for the park, don’t forget to stop at the visitor center and pick one up as they are required for all vehicles in the park.

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