Place: Mill Creek Falls and Clear Lake, South Warner Wilderness, Alturas, California
Coordinates: 41.276772, -120.288342
Length: about 3 miles
Click on the photos for a larger view.
We had originally planned to camp at Mill Creek Falls campground the night before, but had chosen to camp at Stough Reservoir campground instead (and a good thing too, because at Mill Creek Falls campground there's no readily accessible water and the pipes were not yet running).
But we still had every intention to hike the Clear Lake trail, and that's where we went after breaking camp at Stough Reservoir.
|The Clear Lake trailhead at Mill Creek Falls campground.|
|Map downloaded from USGS website. Our hike is labeled (approximately) in yellow.|
|Oregon Grape (Berberis aquifolium)|
We aimed for the Clear Lake loop trail, and so took the first turn to the left. This turn, which wasn't marked on the map we had, had led us to an overlook of the Mill Creek Falls.
I want to clarify that this name titles more than one waterfall in California. If you search the web for Mill Creek Falls, this one isn't the first to come up ...
|Mill Creek Falls|
|Goosefoot Yellow Violet (Viola purpurea)|
The sky wasn't, though, and it started drizzling a little. We tucked the cameras under ponchos and went on along the south lake shore.
|Clear Lake, view from the southwest.|
|Clear Lake, view from south shore|
|Can you find the bufflehead ducks in the lake? (Photographed by Papa Quail)|
|Beaver dam on upper Mill Creek|
But we all made it to the other side!
|Upper Mill Creek|
|Path in the Willows|
|Clear Lake, a view from the north shore|
As far as I could see, this lake isn't a dammed one, but narrows naturally into lower Mill Creek through a short rapids section that eventually leads to Mill Creek Falls. Close to the lake's spillout the trail crosses the creek on a small wooden bridge. It was right there, at the lake's bottleneck that we had the most rewarding encounter of that day.
|Mill Creek flowing from Clear Lake|
And sure enough ... there it was!
We watched it dive for a few minutes until it flew away.
Shortly after we crossed the bridge back to the south side of the creek we met the main trail again and headed back to Mill Creek Falls campground.
On the way I photographed this slope with this pretty grass that looks almost as if it was intentionally planted there. I could see no evidence of any human meddling there,though, so I assume it looks so naturally.
|Grass, perhaps a Stipa species?|
And he found it.
|Black-backed Woodpecker (female). Note the wood chip flying across her wing :-)|