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Spectacular, and lesser known, Potem Falls is a hidden gem! I can’t believe this stunning waterfall is only 15 miles from my house. Today was an unusually warm (67 degree), sunny day for mid-January in Northern California and we were looking for something to do.
If you’re looking for an activity to get out of the house and you're in the area I highly recommend it. With COVID going around you may not be planning your normal trips and maybe you're staying closer to home. Potem falls is not as popular as nearby McArthur-Burney Falls, but beautiful, nonetheless. This 70-foot waterfall is off the beaten path but totally worth the extra effort to get there.
I call it an easy hike; the hardest part is the road getting there, but that’s not too bad. The trail itself is basically a series of three long switchbacks. The path is rough in places, with some broken rocks and uneven surfaces. Be careful of slippery rocks if it’s wet. Some people have taken short cuts through the switchbacks which is contributing to the erosion so be aware of loose rocks; I recommend staying on the trail. The path gets narrow in a couple of spots so hold on to your little one’s hand. It’s about 140-foot gain, downhill in and uphill out.
The forest is mainly Douglas-fir and Live Oak, with a few Ponderosa Pine, Incense-cedar and Madrone. Down closer to the falls the rocks are covered in moss and fern.
There is a really nice swimming hole at the bottom of the falls, which we didn’t use as it was the middle of winter when we went. There is a rope swing to the left of the falls. Probably the only downside is the lack of places to sit and lounge. I’ll definitely come back in the summer, the gorge is really shady and the mist from the falls would be a cool refuge from the scorching heat of July and August.
To get there: From Redding, take highway 299E, after Round Mountain and before Montgomery Creek turn left (north) onto Fenders Ferry Rd. After 3.5 miles of pavement, the road turns to dirt for another 5.5 miles. After you cross over the Pit River on a bridge it’s another .5 mile to the trailhead on the left. The out and back hike is .3 mile each way.
There are no facilities/water/restroom. Dogs are allowed. No permits needed. The dirt road is well maintained and passable with a passenger car.
Let me know in the comments if you've been there.
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