During the latter end of October, my friend and I decided to go and explore the real northern California, aka Redding, Mt. Shasta, and the surrounding area. We both currently live in the Bay Area so we started our adventures off just north of San Francisco to Point Reyes National Seashore to check out Alamere Falls. Then continued our way north towards Redding where our Airbnb for the weekend was located. For all of you nature lovers out there, this post is for you! Most of the trails and destinations we chose had some water feature associated. We hiked to waterfalls, snow (on Mt. Shasta), and even hidden natural hot springs.
Alamere Falls is located in Point Reyes National Seashore about an hour north from San Francisco. If you do decide to hike to Alamere Falls I would recommend doing it on a weekday but regardless of the day you choose, go EARLY. Alamere Falls is a popular destination among Bay Area residents and it will be hard to find it unpacked unless you are selective about when you go. The trail is fairly easy with a very slight incline throughout so great for people who are not fond of big elevation changes. The trail provides a variety of scenic views. There are parts of the trail that parallel the coast and offer beautiful coastline views. **If you go in the morning, you can check out the fog rolling along the coast.
The view of the coastline as you make your hike to Alamere Falls. It was spectacularly beautiful.
The trail also goes past Crystal Lake and Bass Lake. During the summer months you can find a lot of locals and visitors going for a dip in Bass Lake. One passerby also told us that there’s a rope swing in Bass Lake that is popular during the summer months.
Got a quick snapshot of Bass Lake during our hike.
We hiked a little over 8 miles roundtrip to do the entire hike which took about 3 hours (including an hour for us to have lunch at the waterfalls). Neither my friend or I are expert hikers and feel like most beginner hikers would have no issue with this hike, and more advanced hikers will appreciate the views and scenery.
It can be hard to find the final turn off to go to the falls because the sign has shrubs that have grown over it more recently. When we went there was a cute sign made from rocks that pointed us in the right direction. Bay Area people are just so cute ^_^
If you weren’t getting coastline views during your hike you were getting equally beautiful scenic views more inland.
You’ll get to an opening with three small waterfalls, but do not be fooled you still have to get down to the beach where the base of the big fall is!
NOTE*** 98% of the trail is pretty easy as mentioned, but there is ONE key spot that you have to go down to get to the base of the waterfall which requires real tennis shoes, courage, and no issues using your hands to do a little climbing. Remember, if you are not at sea level, meaning you climbed all the way down to where the ocean touches the base of the waterfall, you are NOT at Alamere Falls, yet!
…and finally all of that walking was worth it. Relax and enjoy some lunch while you’re here! Keep an eye out for high tide!
Following our beautiful hike along Point Reyes coastline , we chose to hike the McCloud Trail to check out the three waterfalls that make up the McCloud Waterfalls. By far some of the best views I have ever seen. My favorite, and the one pictured below, was Middle Falls. There was a great opening along with big boulders/rocks for sitting and enjoying some fresh air with a snack (Always Bring Snacks!)
The McCloud river feeding into the McCloud waterfalls. Indigenous tribes still come to this area for spiritual purposes.
The view of Middle Falls. We sat on some of the big rocks and just enjoyed breathing in the fresh air.
There is a driving route that you can take, for those who do not want to actually hike but check out the scenery. The downside to doing the drive is that you cannot get as close to the waterfalls and have more or less an eagle eye view of the falls and McCloud River. The actual hike through McCloud is nice with lots of shade and cover from the sun. You’re also going along the river for majority of it so you get a nice cool breeze from that as well.
Can’t forget to snap your Buddha poses while here!
Before leaving northern California we had to go check out the legendary Burney Falls. We had heard and seen some great pictures of Burney Falls and the hike to it was supposed to be super short and easy (no lie to that). The hike to get to the base of the falls is only 0.3 miles from the parking lot and you can choose to do the Burney Falls loop to walk along the river for an additional 1.2 miles. We went in the latter end of October for our trip and it was EXTREMELY cold at Burney Falls. When I say extremely I mean it was legitly 32-35F according to multiple thermometer sources including my car. My friend and I were both prepared to be cold given that we were heading north (close to Oregon), but neither of us thought it would be in the thirties so go prepared if you go during this time of year!
Mrs. Burney was gushing something serious! But seriously it was pretty remarkable how much water was flowing from the waterfall given that it was October. I really want to go back in the spring to compare.
Hunts Hot Springs
After freezing our tails off at Burney Falls we headed to hunt for Hunts’ Hot Springs. One of my coworkers told me about this spot and said that it was a local treat if you are ever up there. He also mentioned that it can be a little difficult to find especially the first time. The directions we found online were pretty sketch and we were unsure if we would even be able to find it.
Hunts’ Hot Springs is a natural hot spring located along the Pitt River which offers beautiful scenery during your soak. There are several pools in the area. When you first approach the opening you will see two small tubs, the one located higher up is definitely a lot hotter and flows to the next tub which offers slightly cooler water. This is also the tub we were told that some people get possessive over. If you continue to go along the path and across the rocky area (need good shoes, no flip flops here) there are three other nice sized tubs whose temperatures are around 101-105 (perfect). The Pitt River is also steps away from the tub and is great to go for a quick soak to cool down before getting back in.
Hunts’ Hot Springs is located right along the Pitt River. The feel of soaking in the natural hot tub along the cool river in the fresh breeze was AMAZEBALLS!
This is the main area of the hot tubs located along the Pitt River. However, there are several other tubs if you keep going up the hill. We went early (morning time) so all of the lower tubs were open so we didn’t feel the need to go up the dirt hill, but it is nice to know that there’s extra space for those crowded days. Also we heard that this is a great spot to check out during the winter at night as the snow falls! If you are in that area around the cold winter months.
How To Get To Hunts’ Hotsprings
GPS Coordinates for parking: 41.0399, -121.9293 at Montgomery Creek, CA 96065
Park your car around or alongside the T intersection (coordinates). There should be a small trail opening right in the front of the cement bridge which is the entrance for your <1 mile hike to the springs. I would recommend putting the GPS coordinates into your phone/mapping device and looking at the area in satellite imagery so you have an idea of where you are and will be going. There is little to no service in the area so you want to be prepared as much as possible for getting a little ‘off track’. Literally once you find the opening just walk straight for about 7-10 minutes, the trail is flat and pretty wide the entire time so you shouldn’t get “lost” here. You will get to an opening with a rocks and a slow moving river (that’s the Pitt River) meaning you have arrived!
TIP** Almost everyone that we saw there were going nude, just an FYI so you’re not surprised.
NOTE** It is a place for locals in the area so definitely be mindful and respectful of that at all times. We didn’t encounter anybody that was rude or unkind but definitely heard from other locals and read online that some people can be very territorial with the hot tubs and can be confrontational.
Other Activities in Northern California
While in the super north we also checked out the Lake Shasta Caverns which are estimated to be 250 million years old ( http://lakeshastacaverns.com/) located on one of the islands at Shasta Lake. I definitely would recommend the tour if you’re in the area because you get to take a nice little boat ride across Lake Shasta and check out some natural cave formations.
Also we went to check out the famous Sun Dial Bridge at Redding. We went to check it out both during the day and at night. At night they add purple lights and there are a lot of people just hanging out with their friends and family. We also went back during the day to get a better idea of what the bridge actually looked like.
View of the Sundial Bridge in the morning.
Hope you enjoyed the post! I can’t wait to go back in the spring, hopefully, to compare the volume of the waterfalls and compare the changing scenery. Any tips?