Pacific Southwest Region Viewing Area
LOCATION and PHOTOS
Feather Falls Scenic Area and Recreation Trail
Forest: Plumas National Forest
District: Feather River Ranger District
Description: The Middle Fork of the Feather River has been designated a Wild and Scenic River since 1968. It is divided into three zones: Wild, Scenic, and Recreation. Before its confluence with the Middle Fork of the Feather River, just downstream from Feather Falls, the Fall River descends from the northern Sierra.
Parts of this area were once inhabited by Maidu people and later by homesteaders. The presence of grinding rocks as well as occasional cultivated plant species is evidence that this area has long been utilized by humans. There is an established campground at the trailhead to Feather Falls, with five developed campsites.
Bob Cermack, a Forest Service District Ranger in the 1960s, identified the area as one to keep it in its natural state. He was instrumental in the area becoming a designated scenic area.
The main attraction of the Feather Falls National Scenic Area is Feather Falls, the sixth highest waterfall in the nation. The trail to the falls consists of upper and lower sections, both leading to the falls overlook. The upper trail is 4.5 miles, and can form a loop with the lower trail (3.5 miles). From their junction, the hike to the overlook is 0.5 miles. Allow 4 to 6 hours of hiking time to complete the loop.
Viewing: These trails pass through a diversity of habitats, with unique plant and wildflower assemblages. Along both trails in the spring hikers encounter a variety of wildflowers associated with mixed conifer forest or chaparral with granitic outcrops.
Along forested sections of the trail, noteworthy wildflowers include yellow star tulip, fringe cups, crevice alumroot, Indian pink, Hartweg’s wild ginger, Hartweg’s iris, wild roses, Pacific star flower, woodlandstars, California pipevine, larkspur, western bleeding heart, Dichelostemma species, western wallflower, mountain pretty face, and spice bush.
The more open and exposed nature of the chaparral and granitic outcrops provide habitat for distinctive plant communities. About ¼ mile before the Feather Falls overlook, the trail passes through an area of exposed granite with a striking collection of flowering plants. Along this section are both shrubby and annual species of monkeyflower, many lupine species including the showy harlequin lupine, red ribbons clarkia and the rare Mosquin’s clarkia, mustang mint, snowdrop bush, western gray beardtongue, silver-leaved lotus, globe gilia, rock phacelia, wavy-leaved Indian paintbrush, and the rare Butte County fritillary.
Safety: This is a remote area. Please be sure to carry plenty of water, sunscreen, and a first aid kit. Please stay on the trail; rattlesnakes and poison oak are common in the area. Be aware of swift water, as the current may be stronger than it appears.
Directions: Get trail conditions, maps, and directions from the Plumas National Forest – Recreational Opportunity Guide.
Ownership: USDA Forest Service, Plumas National Forest, Feather River Ranger District.
Closest Town with Services: Oroville, California.