We spent Memorial Day weekend in Redding, California, visiting Shasta Caverns, the Sundial Bridge, and the Turtle Bay Exploration Park And Museum, and hiking McCloud Falls. Hiking Hedge Creek Falls wasn’t a part of our plans, but when we saw signs for the waterfall along I-5, I was intrigued…
I looked up the northern California waterfall online and realized that not only does it sit directly off the freeway, it’s a pretty fast hike. Accessing the waterfall is so easy that we decided to stop and hike to Hedge Creek Falls on our drive home.
About Hedge Creek Falls
Hedge Creek Falls is a 30 foot waterfall on Hedge Creek that you can actually walk behind!
The waterfall plunges over a large notch cut out of the surrounding wall of columnar basalt. The basalt has naturally collapsed at the base, forming a large cave under the cliff, behind the waterfall that the trail passes through.
Located in the Shasta Cascade area in Dunsmuir, California, Hedge Creek Falls sits on the southern tip of a lava flow from Mount Shasta. Over thousands of years, erosion from the freezing and thawing of water in the cracks of the basalt has created the shear, flat cliff Hedge Creek Falls flows over.
Hedge Creek Park and Hedge Creek Falls can be easily accessed right off I-5 and its proximity makes it a very popular stop for travelers and locals alike.
Hiking The Hedge Creek Falls Trail
Our adventure started at Hedge Creek Park directly across from the parking area. The park sits on the edge of the of the canyon above Hedge Creek and is pretty small. It has a gazebo, a water fountain, two picnic tables, beautiful beds of flowers, and a few informational displays about the area.
The Hedge Creek Falls Trail is 0.7 mile out and back trail that totals 1/4 miles round trip. It leaves directly from the park and immediately descends into the canyon along a dirt trail that is fairly wide and flat. Even though there is a 200 ft elevation change, it is a pretty easy hike.
The lush, shady trail to Hedge Creek Falls is all downhill, which means the entire way back is all uphill. We traversed three switchbacks and as we neared the waterfall, the trail leveled out a bit along the creek before we had to walk across the rocks to reach the plunge pool and the cave behind the waterfall.
With flat cliffs of columnar basalt stretching upward between bright green trees and foliage and sparkling, white rushing water plunging into the pool below, Hedge Creek Falls is absolutely stunning. And of course, we couldn’t wait to walk behind the waterfall and as the Jungle Cruise at Disneyland says, the backside of water!
Hedge Creek Falls isn’t a huge waterfall, but it is definitely one of our favorites because we could walk all the way around the waterfall in a complete circle. Natalie even got in the plunge pool! We spent quite a bit of time playing around at the falls before heading back to finish our drive home.
I just wish we had packed a picnic down with us because there were lots of sunny rocks to relax on and I would have loved to have eaten lunch at the falls!
Continuing To An Observation Deck
Many people think the Hedge Creek Falls Trail ends at the waterfall, but it doesn’t. Hedge Creek Falls Trail travels behind the the waterfall, out the other side, and then follows along the edge of Hedge Creek until it reaches an observation deck overlooking the Sacramento River that has an amazing view of Mount Shasta. If you’re up for it, there is another trail to the left of the observation deck that leads to down to a swimming hole at the confluence of Hedge Creek and the Sacramento River.
The Million Dollar Waterfall
Believe it or not, the original plans for I-5 included burying Hedge Creek Falls underneath the freeway! Thankfully, the local residents complained so much that I-5 was rerouted further into the mountainside to circumvent and protect the waterfall.
The total cost to reroute I-5 was approximately one million dollars and earned the waterfall the nickname Million Dollar Waterfall.
A Black Bart Hideout
Hedge Creek Falls was once a hideout for infamous stagecoach robber Black Bart!
Charles E. Bolton, aka Charles Boles, aka Black Bart, robbed the Roseburg, Oregon to Redding, California stage near Dunsmuir on October 25, 1879 and hid in the shallow cave behind Hedge Creek Falls prior to the holdup. This was one of three holdups committed by Black Bart in this area.
Know Before You Go
- Hedge Creek Falls is located in Dunsmuir, California in Siskiyou County.
- From I-5 heading north, pass through Dunsmuir and take the Siskiyou Ave exit. Turn left, pass under the freeway and immediately turn right onto Mott Road. The parking lot is on the right. From I-5 heading south from Mount Shasta, take the Siskiyou Ave exit. Turn right and right again. The parking area is immediately on the right.
- The trailhead is at Hedge Creek Park where there is a small picnic area with a barbecue and drinking fountain.
- Hedge Creek Falls Trail is a 0.7 mile out and back trail (1.4 miles total) that travels downhill to the waterfall and uphill all the way back.
- Parking and access is free.
- Be careful! There is a large concentration of poison oak.
- Dogs are allowed as long as they are on a leash. Please be respectful and do not let your dog off leash.