McArthur-Burney Falls State Park may not be close to any major city or on the way to anything really, but that should not dissuade you from visiting. The park is built around one of the most beautiful waterfalls in California, standing at 129-feet tall. President Theodore Roosevelt was mesmerized when he visited Burney Falls, so much so that he declared this area the eighth wonder of the world.
There’s plenty of things to do in the park beside a hike to the falls; you can plan a picnic, take a leisurely stroll along the edge of Burney Creek and take a look at the new visitor center, detailing much of the geology, biology, and history of the park.
For birdwatchers, this is a must-visit. You can frequently observe predatory birds in the park, including peregrine falcons, osprey, herons and bald eagles, especially during the colder months. As well as birds, there’s plenty of other wildlife to encounter, such as porcupines, mule deer, gray foxes, and coyotes. There’s a reason why California’s Watchable Wildlife Program named this park “best viewing site.”
Best time to go
McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial Park is a fantastic destination year-round, as the waterfall has a good flow throughout the year. The reason for this is that Burney Creek’s source comes from underground springs, meaning that this is a stunning experience even during winter. You’ll not only experience the full power of the waterfall, but you’ll also see the whole park covered in snow. Fall is a fantastic time of year to go, as there are not so many crowds, yet the temperatures are still pleasant, and you get a decent amount of daylight.
The park boasts of five miles of hiking trails, winding through the evergreen forests.
Burney Creek Trail: This 1.3-mile trail begins at the parking lot of Lake Britton Beach, and will lead you directly to Burney Falls.
Pioneer Cemetery Trail: This trail is for the history buffs. The path will follow a historic wagon trail, leading you to the Pioneer Cemetery.
Pacific Crest Trail: Parts of the renowned PCT pass through this park, and they are accessible to all visitors, without requiring an extra permit.
The park has over 120 campsites, though they don’t have any utilities. All campsites are a short hike away from the lake and the falls. Alternatively, there are one and two bedroom insulated cabins within walking distance from the falls.
Hints and tips
If you are planning on visiting just for the day, hike the Burney Creek trail and enjoy your day sitting on the rocks in front of Burney Falls. You can’t beat the view.
Dogs are allowed, but they are limited to the Cemetery Trail, as they are prohibited from the trails to Burney Creek.
Camping reservations are required. The opening hours of the park are from sunrise to sunset, and there is an $8 entrance fee per person.