Week 252 - Feather Falls California - 06-12-2011

Feather Falls, California

Just east of Oroville, California, is the little community of Feather Falls.  It takes it's name from Feather Falls, a waterfall on Fall River, a tributary of the Middle Fork Feather River.  This waterfall's claim to fame over the last few decades is that, at 640 feet tall, it is the 6th tallest waterfall in the United States.  Outside of Yosemite National Park, this is California's most spectacular waterfall.

Starting in Oroville you will travel about 27 miles to get the trail head of the falls. You take Highway 162 for seven miles, Forbestown Road for six miles, Lumpkin Road for 12 miles and turn left for two miles to the parking area. Along the 162, you can stop and get this fabulous view of the Lake Oroville spillway. The thunderous sound was great.

This is Lumpkin road, which is very narrow for the Mothership, but ends up at a very large parking area. We were going to ride the scooter, but the weather reports gave a 50% chance of thundershowers.

With the temperature in the low 50's, Ellen is all wrapped up for the trip.

There are two trails: 3.3 miles and 4.5 miles.  Having not read the online material closely enough and wanting a shorter hike, due to the rain, we took the 3.5 mile trail. As we would learn later, it is a much harder hike than the 4.5 mile trail.  The two trails separate about 1/2 mile from the parking area and merge back together again 1/2 mile from the falls.  We still don't know if the 3.3 and 4.5 include the extra 1/2 miles at each end, but don't think so.

The start of the 3.3 trail is downhill and easy.

While in the parking lot, we saw this sign.  Near it, was a hand written note that said, Lower trail bridge repairs are underway, proceed with caution. When we arrived, we weren't sure if this was the bridge they wrote about. It was difficult to see which repairs had been completed.

Bald Rock Dome can be viewed from both trails. This signboard is on the lower 3.3 mile trail.

We're almost to the falls and see the confluence where the Fall River meets the Middle Fork Feather River.

This was our first glimpse of Feather Falls.

In this close up of the top of the falls, you can see the cage where you can walk and view down the falls.

This observation deck, built on a precipice, gives you a great view of the entire falls.

We stitched together five photos to create this vertical panorama, starting with the sky and ending with the mist created at the bottom of the drop.

1) The bottom mist and 2) the Middle Fork Feather River which flows into Lake Oroville.  When water levels are high, you can motor your boat up this river to get a view of the falls without having to hike.

We hiked to the falls on the lower trail of 3.3 miles and back on the longer but much easier 4.5 miles.  Adding in the extra 1/2 mile at the beginning and end and you have a strenuous 8.8 miles of hiking.  The vultures were hoping we wouldn't make it.

This salamander tried to sneak up and give Ellen a kiss, while she posed at Frey Falls on the higher 4.5 mile trail.

As the day turned out, it did drizzle off and on, but most of the hike was dry. However, it was longer than we wanted and exhausting. Pete promised Ellen that if the town of Feather Falls had Mexican food, then we would eat there.  As it turns out 1) this Middle School is the town of Feather Falls, so it was off to Jack-In-The-Box in Oroville.  2) A view of Lake Oroville on the return trip.

Home at last, to the KOA at the Feather Falls Casino in Oroville.  While we tend to stay away from KOA parks, this one was very nice at only $39 for the night.

Finally, a note about the sixth tallest US waterfall. Well, that story fell apart like the water at the bottom of the falls.  First, at 640 feet, it still would not be the sixth tallest.  That may have been true before Hawaii was admitted as a state. Second, according to photographer Leon Turnbull and his laser rangefinder and clinometer, he determined that the Feather Falls height is only 410 feet. See his website at http://www.waterfallswest.com/waterfall.php?id=203

Still, it is a spectacular sight and worth the hike.  Just make sure you are in good shape, have 4 to 5 hours for the hike and take water, snacks and camera.

You may have noticed that our "future" path in this week's map has questions marks.  We know that in the coming weeks, we will be in Paso Robles and Nashville, Tennessee. But, we don't know how or in what order we'll be getting there.

Lost in a sphere of beauty, until next week,

Love, Pete and Ellen

This special edition travelogue was brought to you as there is nothing new in our travel.

Photos from Jun 2011

The Full Time Motorhome Living Guide

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