Images by: Tammy Reynolds
Whiskeytown National Recreation Area has four major waterfalls that you normally can visit year-round. The best time to visit the Falls is in the spring when the snow-melt from Shasta Bally cascades through the forest and enters Whiskeytown Lake. The four waterfalls are Brandy Creek Falls, Boulder Creek Falls, Crystal Creek Falls, and the spectacular Whiskeytown Falls.
Since Carr Fire in 2018, there are only two waterfalls that are currently accessible. Crystal Creek Falls and Whiskeytown Falls are the two falls where park staff and partners have restored dozens of miles of trails along the James K. Carr Trail. It reopened on Valentine’s Day 2020.
The other two falls, Boulder Creek Falls and Brandy Creek Falls are currently closed due to trails that are inaccessible and dangerous.
They are currently working on restoring the lower Brandy Creek Trail, but it will be sometime before the trails above Sheep Camp are restored.
The National Park Service promotes responsible outdoor recreation. Please take a personal role in preserving the outdoor experience for yourself and future generations while enjoying your visit at Whiskeytown.
The Waterfalls of
Whiskeytown National Recreation Area
Knowledge of the falls faded quietly away, until resurrected by Weatherbee. Today, people from all over the world have heard about the discovery of this hidden waterfall through extensive press coverage.
The Trail to Brandy Creek Falls follows an old logging road from the 1950s. Remnant skid trails and sections of abandoned roads from the logging era were found throughout the watershed. Now, these trails are closed due to the extensive damage from the Carr Fire in 2018 and the winter rains that followed.
Because of the steep hillsides, erosive soil, and heavy precipitation found in the Brandy Creek drainage, periodic debris flows can occur. Some of these debris flows occur naturally, while others result from the failure of old logging roads and now fire destruction. Tens of thousands of cubic yards of rock, soil, and forest may tumble down the canyon. These are dramatic events that occur typically during heavy rain storms in the winter months.
The most recent series of debris flows occurred in the winter of 1997/1998 and during the 2018/2019 heavy winter rains following the Carr Fire. At the first bridge crossing on the Brandy Creek Falls Trail, the stream channel was totally transformed as a ten-foot high wall of boulders, mud, and fallen trees poured down the canyon. Previous to Carr Fire in 2018, alders and willows had grown back over the scarred area, returning shade to the stream waters that feature cold, deep pools that are home to rainbow trout, tailed frogs, and pacific giant salamanders.
Five small cascades and pools sweep down across the polished granite between the lovely Lower Falls and the magnificent 50-foot high Upper Falls. Upper Brandy Creek Falls plunge in a unique split formation through the steep vertical walls. In the spring, the umbrella-leafed indian rhubarb is one of the first flowers to appear, displaying an array of brilliant pink blossoms. In the fall, the leaves of the indian rhubarb turn a bright orange color.
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