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  • Writer's pictureGabriella Viola

My Solo Road Trip Chasing Waterfalls in Northern Califonia and Oregon

Updated: Sep 15, 2021

Chasing waterfalls in northern california and oregon

There have been quite a few waterfalls in Northern California and Oregon that have been on my bucket list for the last several years. So, this past May, I decided to take a solo road trip dedicated to chasing as many waterfalls as I could throughout Northern California and Central Oregon. The road trip lasted 9 days, and the amount of natural beauty I saw blew me away!

In this post, I'll be sharing my road trip itinerary, including which waterfalls I visited, where I stayed, and any tips I picked up along the way!

*When exploring the outdoors, please keep it beautiful by Leaving No Trace*



Views of Mt Shasta from HWY 89 in Shasta California
Views of Mt Shasta from HWY 89

Itinerary and Where To Stay:

For this particular road trip, I only did some light planning. I had a pretty good idea of which waterfalls I wanted to see, but I wasn't sure how many days I wanted to spend at each spot. So, I decided to just book the hotels along the way-something I never do 😬. I usually like to have everything planned out and prebooked. But, doing it this way made the road trip feel even more adventurous! And luckily for me, there were quite a few budget-friendly hotel options along my route that I was able to book last minute.

Here's how my itinerary turned out, starting from South Lake Tahoe California (where I live):

Burney Falls: Burney, California (1 night)

McCloud Falls: Mt. Shasta, California (1 night)

Toketee, Watson & Clearwater Falls: Umpqua National Forest, Southern Oregon (2 nights)

Sahalie & Koosah Falls: Willamette National Forest, Central Oregon (2 nights)

Silver Falls State Park: Silverton, Oregon (1 night)

➝ Mt. Shasta, California (1 night)

➝ Back to South Lake Tahoe, California

I have included links to the hotels I stayed at in each section.



Burney, California

Catching a rainbow at Burney Falls in Burney California
Catching a rainbow at Burney Falls
Burney Falls in McArthur-Burney Memorial State Park in Burney California
Views from the base of Burney Falls

Coming from South Lake Tahoe, Burney Falls was the first stop on my trip. It's the only waterfall on this list that I have been to before, once in October 2019 and once in June 2020. Even though I've seen Burney Falls before, I still wanted to include it in the trip because 1. It's so friggin beautiful, and 2. It was on the way!

Not only is Burney Falls drop-dead gorgeous, but it's also easily accessible. The falls overlook is steps from the parking area, and the hike leading down to the base of the falls is only 0.3 miles.

I wrote a more in-depth blog post on Burney Falls from a previous visit. You can read more about it here.

Where I stayed: Charm Motel & Suites in Burney, California



Mt. Shasta, California

Middle McCloud Falls in Mt Shasta California
Middle McCloud Falls
Lower McCloud Falls in Mt Shasta California
Lower McCloud Falls
Middle McCloud Falls in Mt Shasta California

After spending the morning at Burney Falls, I headed an hour north along HWY 89 to McCloud Falls in Mt. Shasta, California. McCloud Falls is made up of three tiers: Upper Falls, Middle Falls, and Lower Falls.

You can either hike the falls via the McCloud River Falls Trail or, you can drive right up to each section. I chose the easier route and drove to each tier. While at Middle McCloud Falls, I did the short hike down to the base of the falls, which I highly recommend!

Tip: If you only have time to visit one section of McCloud Falls, Middle Falls is the most impressive out of the three. For more information on McCloud Falls click here.

Where I stayed: Cold Creek Inn in Mt. Shasta California

Here's the video from my visit to Burney and McCloud Falls:



Umpqua National Forest, Oregon

Watson Falls in Umpqua National Forest Oregon
Watson Falls in Umpqua National Forest

After spending the night in Mt. Shasta, I drove to Crescent, Oregon, and spent the night before hitting up the next set of waterfalls early in the morning.

Located along HWY 138 in Umpqua National Forest, Toketee Falls, Watson Falls, and Clearwater Falls are minutes from each other, so you can visit all of them in one day. In addition to these falls, there are several other waterfalls along HWY 138 as well as the Umpqua Hot Springs, which were closed when I visited.


Toketee Falls from the viewing platform

Toketee Falls is hands down one of the most beautiful and unique-looking waterfalls in Oregon. The hike to the viewing platform is short and easy, and the view from here is spectacular. Hiking down to the base of Toketee falls is another story.

Before visiting, I read that the hike to the base of the falls is very steep and sketchy. I also read that the rope that is usually there to help you on the way down was removed. Despite this, I decided to give the hike a shot when I got there (as yes the rope was gone!).

Well, I didn't get very far, the hike was indeed very sketchy and I did not feel comfortable doing it alone. I climbed back up to the viewing platform, feeling bummed that I didn't make it to the base. Even though I was bummed out, I do not regret the decision to turn back. I would give it another go the next time I visit, just not by myself.


watson falls in oregon

watson falls in oregon

Watson Falls was my favorite out of the three waterfalls I visited in Umpqua National Forest. At 272 feet, it's the third-largest waterfall in Oregon. It's framed by an amphitheater of carved stone and lush vegetation, making the whole scene quite dramatic. Also, expect to get misted on, even from a distance as Watson Falls is one very powerful waterfall.

The hike to the falls is scenic and short at only .4 miles. It ends right above the base of the falls. There's a small area with a bench that you can view the falls from, or you can find a rock to sit or stand on as I did.


Cleawater Falls

I have to say, Clearwater Falls was pretty underwhelming compared to the other waterfalls I visited, but I wanted to add it because it's so close to Toketee Falls and Watson Falls. Don't get me wrong, it is a beautiful waterfall, and it's right across from the parking area so it's very accessible. It's worth checking out if you have some time to spare.

Where I stayed: Crescent Moon Motel in Crescent, Oregon



Willamette National Forest, Oregon

Sahalie Falls in Willamette National Forest Oregon
Sahalie Falls in the spring
Sahalie Falls in Willamette National Forest
The top of Sahalie Falls
Koosah Falls in Willamette National Park
Koosah Falls

After checking out the waterfalls in Umpqua National Forest, I headed on towards Willamette National Forest.

Sahalie Falls and Koosah Falls caught my eye while researching waterfalls to see in Oregon, and they were both even more spectacular in person. Located in Willamette National Forest, Sahalie and Koosah Falls are along the same trail and within easy hiking distance of each other. You will also get to enjoy the brilliantly blue McKenzie River that runs alongside the trail. My only regret is not hiking the 3 miles to the