Monday, July 8, 2013

A Respite in the Rain: Visiting Crystal Falls

Date: May 27, 2013
Place, Crystal Falls, Whiskeytown, California
Trailhead coordinates:  40.6506, -122.6684
Length: about 1/3 mile
Difficulty: very easy.

The rain caught up with us on the morning of Memorial Day. We woke up in a wet campcround and a thickly clouded sky that drizzled constantly. Didn't bother me at all ... but the rest of the family were not very enthusiastic about hiking in the rain so we packed and started our south with the idea of finding a dryer place to hike along our path.
We were lured by the sign directing to Whiskeytown Falls and drove all the way to the trailhead. The rain, however, had only got stronger. We gave up on that idea. Seeing how disappointed I was Papa Quail stopped at the trailhead to Crystal Falls, just before going on the main road again. The rain seemed to have stopped and we all got out of the car for a short visit to Crystal Falls.
It really is a very short trail, all flat and paved, leading to a picnic area that overlooks a small but very pretty water cascade. 

Crystal Falls, view from the picnic area
There is a narrow, irregular trail that goes down to the bottom of the Falls. Needless to say, we all went down there.
Crystal Falls from below
Although the rain has stopped, the air was still very misty, and the cloud cover remained thick. It wasn't cold, though, and the chikas took their shoes off and waded in the pool.
Downstream of the Falls.
Everything was green and lush all around. The plant with the large bright-green leaves caught my eye. It was a Damera, the same kind I encountered at the Trinity River campground, only much bigger.
Darmera peltata
The Damera looks its best in the water setting :-)
Damera peltata
At that point things took an exciting turn when Papa Quail accidentally dropped his lens glare-protector into the water. We watched as the black plastic ring floated away downstream and were ready to say goodbye forever, but then it was caught in tree roots just above the lower cascade. Papa quail, who didn't wasnt to get wet in the first place, took off his shoes and waded through the whitewater and slippery rocks to retrieve the glare protector. Me and the chikas cheered him all along the way :-)
This little adventure also resulted in meeting with wildlife:
Banana Slug
Not as bright yellow as the ones we saw at Limekiln State Park, but a Banana Slug nonetheless.
The best treat of this visit was waiting for us by the side of the trail above: a Firecracker flower! Isn't it gorgeous?
Firecracker flower (Dichelostemma ida-maia)
So although we tried avoiding the rain we got wet anyway. We continued south after that, stopping only at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge on our way back home.


  1. The cascades are indeed beautiful and the Firecracker flower too.

    But what about the Whiskeytown Falls? Do they really contain Whiskey? ;-)

    1. If they did, I think Papa Quail would have been more inclined to go there :-)

  2. And this is just a small town park.... America the beautiful indeed!!