How does this work?
French Gulch, California, United States

Whiskeytown Falls, Whiskeytown National Rec Area

It's just a short hike reach the impressive 220ft cascading waterfall that is Whiskeytown Falls.

provided by
Viewed 16743 times
    This guide contains photos
 (1 vote)
Difficulty: Easy
Length: 3.0 miles / 4.8 km
Duration: 1-3 hours
Overview: Whiskeytown National Recreation Area has been a popular destination for many years, and Whiskeytown Lake’s 36 miles of shoreline boasts great opportunities for fishing, sailing, kayaking and waterskiing.

Hikers are now finding the park in increasing numbers, and many are finding their way to Whiskeytown Falls. For several decades this series of waterfalls over 220ft in height was a closely guarded secret, and possibly so secret according to reports that at one time the National Park Service might have actually misplaced its location.

Today it’s hard to miss the signs leading to Whiskeytown Falls, which lie just a few miles west of the lake on Crystal Creek Road.

Both long and tall, Whiskeytown Falls is a location that's hard to capture in photography, which gives you all the more incentive to explore it for yourself.

Elevation gain:
• 700ft (from 2,200 - 2,900ft)

• Spring and early summer may be the best times to experience these falls.
• Shade is common throughout most of the hike, but for some it may still be best to avoid hiking here at the hottest times of the day.

Points of Interest


Trailhead & Parking

West of the lake, the signs to Whiskeytown Falls couldn't be clearer. Take a left onto Crystal Creek Road and drive 3.6 miles to the trailhead, which will be on the left-hand side of the road.

Parking is limited at the trailhead, leaving some folk to resort to parking by the side of the road. Improvements are being taken however to increase the number of parking spots available.

Strap on your hiking boots and head out onto the recently opened James K. Carr trail, which begins in in sunshine on level ground, crosses a creek and then climbs gently and steadily uphill under cover of foilage.

[JCT] Logging Road

Ignore the larger logging road and continue along the slightly narrower trail towards the falls.

Whiskeytown Falls

You've reached Whiskeytown Falls and the cascading 220ft torrent of water which cuts a curved route through the valley, meaning that you can't see the whole waterfall from this location.

Steps continue up the left side of the waterfall offering better views of the entire spectacle.

Reports have it that the prior owners of this land were unaware that they had such a grand landmark on their property. The Park Service apparently did a great job of keeping the the waterfall a secret while they negotiated the land purchase of this area - such a great job that they subsequently forgot about the waterfall's existence for decades!
Pictures in this guide taken by: Trailspotting

Trailspotting content © Stuart Green 2010 including text, images, videos and route detail.

Whiskeytown Falls, Whiskeytown National Rec Area Trail Map

POIs: numbers | icons View large Trail Map

Have an iPhone or Android?

  • Map your route while you move
  • Add trip photos to your map instantly
  • Share trips right from your phone
  • Find and follow trips from other travelers

Available For:
iPhone | Android

About the Author

65 guides
view Trailspotting's profile
Trailspotting works hard to bring you guides to the best hiking trails in Northern California, complete...

Whiskeytown Falls, Whiskeytown National Rec Area 3 Day Forecast

Extended Forecast
How To Get There
Get directions from: