One of the prettiest and grandest waterfalls in California (and that I have ever saw), the Burney Falls lays tucked within the McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park, coupled with a trail that leads you around the stream and waterfall with just as memorable views. It is one of the few scenic views that, despite the weather conditions, the waterfall retains its grandeur and beauty throughout and continues to leave visitors awe-struck.
- Date visited/Time of Day: April 24, 2016/12:40PM
- Trail name(s): Falls Loop Trail
- Weather conditions: cloudy but eventually sunny
- Length: ~1 hour
- Difficulty: easy/moderate
“The park’s centerpiece is the 129-foot Burney Falls, which is not the highest or largest waterfall in the state, but possibly the most beautiful. Additional water comes from springs, joining to create a mist-filled basin. Burney Creek originates from the park’s underground springs and flows to Lake Britton, getting larger along the way to the majestic falls. The park’s landscape was created by volcanic activity as well as erosion from weather and streams. This volcanic region is surrounded by mountain peaks and is covered by black volcanic rock, or basalt. Created over a million years ago, the layered, porous basalt retains rainwater and snow melt, which forms a large underground reservoir… Burney Falls was named after pioneer settler Samuel Burney who lived in the area in the 1850s. The McArthurs were pioneer settlers who arrived in the late 1800s. Descendants were responsible for saving the waterfall and nearby land from development. They bought the property and gave it to the state as a gift in the 1920s.”
– California Department of Parks and Recreation: McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park
Considered by a number of travelers as the Eighth Wonder of the World. The Burney Falls, as well as the Falls Loop Trail, is the main attraction for hikers, campers and simply tourists who come to the McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial Park. Our time at the falls was short as we had come right after our adventure down in Mossbrae Falls, but this particular waterfall blew away any other waterfalls I have seen thus far because of how grand of a scale the Burney Falls are. And even as the day begins to warm up, you still feel the crisp and cooling breeze accompanied by the small water pellets made by the waters cascading down into the pond below.
Getting to the falls is simple; the entrance to the falls is right next to the entrance of the park itself, and right across from the visitor. Entrance to the park is $8 for one car, which is $8 worth of your time at the falls (in my opinion), and parking is abundant around the entrance. Before seeing the falls, you must descend down a paved trail down to the right as you enter, and eventually the sounds of the waterfall grow stronger and stronger until you finally see the Burney falls.
Although there is no official (or necessarily safe) path closer to the waterfalls, you can go off the paved road and traverse the rocky shore to get up close to the waterfall as much as you can. I am not aware of any restrictions by the park on such activity so I urge strong caution when walking on the rocks. The first thing you notice once you approach the waterfall is how the air becomes super chilly, and right after you gaze up and see just how tall the waterfall actually is. Be sure to bring a jacket if you are coming on a cloudy day.
The trail that connects with the falls circles around the river and waterfall, so there are some steep parts when you go uphill, but the view on top of the waterfall is worth the steep trails. The trail is also safe and easy to navigate, and it shouldn’t take you more then 30 or 40 minutes to go around the waterfall.
The trail itself is a relatively short one, and we did not spend as much time here in the park as we did with the others, however when you do come here, make the most of the time you have there: take pictures, get as close to the waterfall as you can, sit and observe! No pictures on Instagram or pintrest can ever compare to the experience of actually facing this behemoth in person. This is highly recommended to EVERYBODY!