WATERFALLS ALONG THE BYWAY
The unexpected abundance of waterfalls along the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway easily captures the imagination of all adventurers, young and old. From world-class Burney Falls that Theodore Roosevelt named the “Eighth Wonder of the World” to the stunning Vidae Falls in Crater Lake National Park, cascades in this region are as special and diverse as the volcanic landscape they flow over. Some waterfalls are the reward of a hike, and others you can practically drive right up to. Here are some of the highlights along the route you won’t want to miss.
McCloud Falls is unique in that it is actually a series of three waterfalls located all within a walkable mile of each other and each with their own personality. At Upper Falls, the quiet river gathers itself into a massive rock chute, charging the water full of energy before it spills into a pool far below. Middle Falls spreads a sheet of falling water over a lava cliff, into a large pool, while lower Falls is a small chute spilling into a pool below. The water is icy cold, but in the summer you will find people frolicking in it, enjoying this favorite natural wonder.
One of the most spectacular waterfalls in California—if not the continent—this 129-foot-tall, fern-draped cascade seems to come out of nowhere. Located 60 miles northeast of Redding and an hour east of McCloud, it is truly one of California’s biggest surprises. It’s no wonder 26th President Teddy Roosevelt dubbed it “the eighth wonder of the world.”
To witness the falls at their most intense, visit during the spring, from early April through October, when snowmelt is at its peak. When you’re done oohing and ahhing at the foot of the cascade, there are five miles of hiking trails to explore within the park, and the Pacific Crest Trail passes though. For those who want to stay the night, there is a campground with 121 sites and 24 cabins.
Hedge Creek Falls
Hedge Creek Falls
Hedge Creek Falls is a waterfall on Hedge Creek in Dunsmuir. There is a small cave located behind the waterfall, allowing visitors to walk behind the cascading water. Shortly after the waterfall, Hedge Creek flows into the Sacramento River south of Mossbrae Falls. Access to the waterfall and viewing platform is via a short hiking trail, starting at a small park off the Dunsmuir Ave exit on Interstate 5. The close proximity to I-5 makes Hedge Creek Falls a very popular stopping point for passing motorists. It was also the legendary hideout of stagecoach robber Black Bart.
Vidae Falls is the best known and most viewed waterfall at Crater Lake National Park and can be viewed all year around. This is due to the fact that you can drive right next to Vidae Falls and snap a photo during the summer. Its 100-foot drop is easy to find; just above the East Rim Drive about 3 miles east of Park Headquarters.
Vidae Falls features a main cascading drop before reaching a rocky slope with less of an incline that eventually makes it way down beneath Rim Drive. While many believe it to be leakage from Crater Lake’s pristine waters, it is actually a local spring further upstream, Vidae Creek. In summer, wildflowers flourish in the cascade’s spray.
A large turn-out is provided and accessible during summer and these falls can be accessed with snowshoes or cross-country skis in wintertime. Typically, snowplows open the road by early July. Some parking is available at the roadside pullout but there is more in the nearby picnic area across the road. For more information call Crater Lake National Park at (541) 594-3000.