McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park: The Complete Guide

Burney falls at McArthur-Burney State Park in California.

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McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park

Address
24898 CA-89, Burney, CA 96013, USA
Phone +1 530-335-2777

President Teddy Roosevelt once described Burney Falls in California as the "eighth wonder of the world," and it's no less spectacular now than it was in the early 20th century. Some people are quick to point out that Burney Falls isn't California's highest waterfall or its largest, but it's easy to get to (located east of Redding and north of Lassen Volcanic National Park) and mesmerizing to see. So much so, that even seasoned photographers gush uncontrollably over its beauty. Maybe it's the 100 million gallons of water that pour over the 129-foot cliff every day, joining spring-fed streams originating in openings on the cliff's face. All that water drops into a deep, blue pool, breaking upon the mossy rocks into multiple, rainbow-filled streams. And it's the centerpiece of McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park that attracts tourists and locals to its grounds. They come to enjoy not just the waterfall, but also the hiking, the geology, and shoreline fun on Lake Britton.

Things to Do

You can get a great view of the falls from the parking lot at McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park, and a short, easy walk takes you to the base. The trip to the bottom is about equal to going down a few flights of stairs and takes about five to 10 minutes from your car. Once there, you can take a dip in the freezing pool at the bottom.

Catch rainbow, brown, and brook trout in Burney Creek, or bass, bluegill, crappie, catfish, carp, squawfish, sunfish, and perch in nearby Lake Britton. Fishing season opens on the last Saturday in April and closes in mid-November.

You can also rent a small motorboat, canoe, or kayak at the marina on Lake Britton, located in the park. Getting out on the lake gives you an opportunity to spy on the area's wildlife, including bald eagles, river otters, and osprey. Swimming is permitted at the lakeside swimming area, or rent a slip to store your own boat for the weekend.

The Best Hikes & Trails

Only 5 miles of hiking trails exist inside the park, and many visitors stick to the Burney Falls Trail for a simple stroll to the waterfall. Some sections of the most popular trails are paved, and you can even hike from the falls to the lake. Overnight adventurers can tackle the remote 78-mile Section O of the Pacific Crest Trail, which starts in the park and ends at California Highway 5.

  • Burney Falls Loop Trail: This heavily-trafficked 1-mile loop takes you clockwise to an overlook above the falls and then descends to the base of the falls. Interpretive signs are placed along this nature trail that gives you an up-close experience of the waterfall, as well as a look at the natural flora of the park.
  • Burney Creek Trail to Rim Trail: The 2.5-mile Burney Creek to Rim Trail takes you from the waterfall, into the woods, and then culminates at the lake. This quiet trail offers a moment of solitude, and then rewards you with a refreshing body of water into which you can take a dip on a hot day.
  • Pioneer Cemetery Trail: The Pioneer Cemetery Trail is a wide 2.5-mile out-and-back path that originates in the campground at Campsite 75. This historical trail takes you to a pioneer cemetery, complete with the refurbished headstones of the settlers buried there.
  • Pacific Crest Trail, Section O: If you're up for tackling a section of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), start at McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park and make your way to a pickup location on Highway 5. This 78-mile section takes you by the lake and the dam and through wooded forests with views of Mount Shasta. You can also tackle this trail as a shorter 6-mile out-and-back to the dam.

Where to Camp

McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park has two campgrounds with a total of 102 developed campsites for tents, trailers, and RVs up to 32 feet long. You can also rent one- and two-room rustic cabins with propane heaters and beds, but no electricity or plumbing (bring sleeping bags and battery-powered lanterns). You can reserve a campsite ahead of time, May through September, or take your chances on a first-come, first-served basis.

  • Pioneer Campground: Pioneer Campground offers tent sites, RV sites, hike/bike campsites, and cabins in a forested setting. A limited number of pull-through campsites are available, as well. Restrooms with flush toilets are located nearby, and dogs are allowed with a monetary deposit, but they have to be kept on a leash. The park store stocks groceries and souvenirs, and there is also an RV dump station on-site.
  • Rim Campground: Located right next to Pioneer Campground, Rim Campground has the same amenities, but is closer to the rim, offering a better view of the falls. Spots here are more difficult to obtain than in Pioneer Campground, so reserve one many months ahead of time if you plan to camp during the prime summer season.

Where to Stay Nearby

There are several small-town lodges and motels in the region surrounding McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park. The closest options for lodging are in Burney, about 10 miles away, and in Fall River Mills, about 17 miles away. Options range from no-frills fishing lodges to historical hotels.

  • Charm Motel & Suites: The Charm Motel & Suites in Burney offers rustic-style king rooms, double queen rooms, and suites, complete with a full kitchen, two bathrooms, and a living area. All rooms come with a coffee maker, microwave, and free Wi-Fi. This motel is a favorite of hunters and fishermen because of its close proximity to surrounding sportsmen's access points.
  • Clearwater Lodge: The Clearwater Lodge in Fall River Mills caters specifically to the fly fishing enthusiast, offering private rooms, European-style group lodging accommodations, and cottages, alongside guided fly fishing trips and instruction. All rates include gourmet meals and house beverages.
  • Fall River Hotel: The Fall River Hotel is located on Main Street in Fall River Mills. Its historic facade sits near the area's only movie theater, shops, and restaurants. Choose from basic rooms to king and queen suites, all with their own private bathroom. An on-site restaurant serves American fare for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

How to Get There

The park is located about 63 miles northeast of Redding, California, on CA-299 (the drive takes about an hour and 25 minutes). From Redding, take CA-299 West through Burney and to the town of Four Corners. Then, take CA-89 all the way to the park. There is a municipal airport in Redding that is served by major carriers like Alaska Airlines and United Airlines.

Accessibility

The falls can be viewed by taking an ADA-accessible path from the parking area to the viewing platform. Multiple ADA-compliant restrooms are located throughout the park and in the camping area. A few campsites and cabins are handicap accessible, and the trail along Burney Creek is ADA accessible, complete with an accessible fishing pier.

Tips for Your Visit

  • McArthur-Burney Memorial State Park is open from sunrise to sunset all year long.
  • The park gets busy from April through October, during all weekends and summer holidays. Sometimes, it can get so packed that they close the entrance. If that happens, ‚Äčtry returning after 4 p.m., when most people go home.
  • If you visit during the off-season or mid-week, you may have the place to yourself.
  • Dogs are welcome but must be kept on a leash at all times.
  • Make sure to obtain a fishing license before fishing in the park. A license is required and rangers patrol the fishing areas on both the creek and the lake.
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McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park: The Complete Guide