Area: Plumas County
Distance: 8 miles
Elevation gain: 1,100ft (from 1,500 - 2,500ft)
Peer precariously over the edge of one of the the biggest waterfalls in the country, looking directly down upon the 640 foot drop to the valley below.
Feather Falls National Scenic Trail in the Plumas National Forest traverses an 8 mile loop through dense forest on the outward journey and river canyon views on the return. The observation platform before the falls lends itself to excellent views of the torrents of water flowing over a sheer granite cliff, but if you're feeling a little more adventurous, take a further short half-mile trail to the very top of the falls. Hikers have lost their lives from falling into the stream and being swept over the falls, so great care is recommended at the top. Despite this grave warning, there's no need to worry so long as you pick a safe route parallel to the stream and take no risks, and the payoff is exhilarating.
The lower, returning leg of the trail includes several interpretative signs and interesting observation points, including 2,000 year old bowl-shaped rock depressions created by the Maidu indians, used as mortars to grind acorns. The trail also has great views of Bald Rock Dome, known as “Earth-Maker” to the Maidu, is reminiscent of Yosemite's Half-Dome and towers 2,000 feet above the Middle Fork Feather River.
Although any time is a good time to tackle this trail, spring is undoubtedly the best time to experience the full force of the falls during the snowmelt and to see the variety of wildflower color and species which bloom all along the route.
- Trailspotting Images: Feather Falls on Flickr
- Feather Falls on Waterfalls West