The Trail to Whiskeytown Falls Reopens Following 19-Month Closure Due to the Carr Fire

Photo by David Wood

The Carr Fire ripped through Whiskeytown National Recreation Area in July 2018, burning through 90 percent of the beloved outdoor destination. With much of the recreation area’s foundation left in ruins, it’s been a long recovery process, but no we’re beginning to see major destinations reopen to the public.

Park officials announced that one of the most popular trails in the park, the James K. Carr Trail to Whiskeytown Falls, was set to reopen, marking a major milestone in the area’s recovery. Whiskeytown was once known for its four beautiful waterfalls, and now two of those falls, the other being Crystal Creek Falls, can be visited following Carr Fire restoration

“Closed since the Carr Fire due to substantial damage, staff repaired and restabilized the trail by building a new footbridge and adding several retaining walls,” Whiskeytown National Recreation said in the announcement.

The James K. Carr Trail is a 3.4 mile loop that also connects to the Mill Creek Trail. A moderate to difficult hike – with a pleasant flat section to begin with, the trail then leads downward until you reach the footbridge over Crystal Creek. At this point, the trail ascends upwards for a while until it levels out, and leads you to the main attraction, the falls.

Also known as Hidden Falls, this 220 foot-tall beauty, for years, remained an all but hidden treasure except for those fortunate enough to find its remote location. Before the establishment of the Whiskeytown National Recreation Center, there was no trail to this waterfall leaving loggers, miners and bushwhackers as the only beneficiaries of this stunning display of Mother Nature. Just recently, in 2004, a park biologist “discovered” the fall, and it quickly developed into one of the park’s top tourist attractions.

A unique feature this waterfall offers is the stairway that runs up the left side of it, which gives visitors an up-close view of the rushing water as it cascades down the fall’s rocky face. The stairs can get wet and slippery, so use caution, and be sure to hold onto the handrail when ascending the fall. Also, considering the trail weaves through old logging roads, on the hike, you get an interesting historical perspective on the economic activities that played a role in shaping Shasta County. Another appealing feature of the hike, running water parallels the trail the entire way making the experience all the more palatable on a sweltering summer day.

Fantastic news out of Whiskeytown and great work from the people in charge of recovery following the devastating Carr Fire. We hope to spend many days in Whiskeytown this summer!

Active NorCal

Northern California's Outdoor Digital Newsmagazine

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