The waterfall, located on Cascades Ridge, is named for Samuel Burney, a pioneer who lived in the mid-19th century. He lived in this area in the middle of the 19th century. In the 1920s, the land was donated to the State of California to preserve its beauty for future generations.
Bernay Falls is relatively easy to reach, making it one of the most popular hiking trails in the region. During the warmer months of the year, you will share the trail and the beautiful waterfall with many other visitors.
If you’re considering a hike to Bernie’s Falls in northeastern California, read on to find out what to expect from the hike and what to know in advance!
What can you expect from a hike in Burnie Falls?
Burnie Falls Loop Trail background
How do I get to the Burnie Falls Loop Trail
How long does it take to walk the Burnie Falls Loop Trail?
What to bring for a hike on the Bernie Falls Loop Trail
Tips for hiking the Bernie Falls Loop Trail, CA
The most visited attraction at McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park, Burney Falls is the main attraction on this hike. The 129-foot waterfall, framed by lush flora, creates a hypnotic image.
Unlike many other waterfalls in California, Bernie Falls flows year-round. This is a great advantage because you don’t have to take the time to visit Bernie’s Falls in the weeks after the snow has melted to see them at their best.
The rock around Burnie Falls is basalt. The porous basalt layers act as an enormous underground reservoir for rainwater and snowmelt. It is this underground reservoir that feeds the falls and keeps them flowing all year round.
picture postcard scene photo
Burney Creek, which forms Burney Falls, rises in the park and flows to Britton Lake, where it joins other springs to form a majestic spectacle that grows larger as you approach the falls. The water would flow at a rate of 100 million gallons per day!
The falls have two main waterfalls, but the many smaller ones around them form a picturesque veil 250 feet long through which the surface of the rock intermittently shimmers. Streams of water even form in random places in the rock below the sinking stream.
At the end of the river, an ice blue pool 2 meters long with white foam swirls under the current. Mist swirls in the air, tiny rainbows dance, and mosses, ferns, and other plants frame the waterfall, creating a lush backdrop. It really is a must!
The Burney Falls Loop Trail runs past the falls, but you can only see them in a few places along the way. You’ll get your first glimpse of the beautiful waterfall on the hiking trail that leads to the Bernie Falls lookout.
The trail is mostly covered by trees, keeping it shady and reasonably cool. This is a nature trail with two dozen informational markers along the way. Read the signs to learn about the geology, flora and fauna of the park as you hike.
The trail descends to the base of Bernie Falls, where you can see the power of the waterfall in all its magnificence and feel the spray on your face. Besides the beauty of the water, the cliffs and the surrounding forest, you can also observe the swifts, which are known to nest in this park.
After filling the falls, cross the arch bridge to continue the trail and return to the trailhead via a series of switchbacks with a creek crossing at the top of the falls. On the way up, you get more views of the waterfall.
Burney Falls Loop Trail basic data
The Burney Falls Loop is about 1.2 miles long, is rated easy and moderate, and has an elevation of about 160 feet above sea level. The path is unpaved and seemed to be well maintained during our visit.
From the parking lot it is a very short walk (only a few dozen steps) to the Burney Falls viewpoint. The trail to the falls is about 0.5 km long, and the loop around the falls is just over 1 km long. That way you can make any option or combination of options attractive and still maintain a good view of the waterfall!
You can hike the Burnie Falls Loop Trail year-round. Enjoy the wildflowers in spring and the deciduous flowers in autumn. The winter landscape here is enchanting, with snow and ice, but the area around the falls can be icy and dangerously slippery in winter.
Dogs are not allowed on the trail, but are allowed in the parking lot. The park recommends leaving pets at home.
There is a $10 parking fee for the use of the vehicle during the day. Bring cash (small bills) as the kiosk does not always accept credit cards.
MacArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park is located on Highway 89 (see map). From Sacramento: take I-5 N to Redding, then CA-299 E to CA-89 N. The drive to Sacramento is about 3.5 hours without traffic.
There is a parking lot where you can park. From the parking lot, it’s just a short walk to the Burney Falls lookout point, which also has a hiking trail to the base of the waterfall. The trails are well marked.
A hike along the Burney Falls Loop Trail takes about 30 minutes, but with such a stunning waterfall and beautiful scenery along the way, we recommend taking at least an hour, preferably longer, to enjoy the falls at your leisure.
There are additional hiking trails at McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park (about 5 miles total). If they are open and you want to explore more of the park, take more time. The park is traversed by the Pacific Crest Trail, a legendary hiking trail that connects Mexico to Canada.
The circular walk is short, but you want to stay hydrated, so bring plenty of drinking water. This is especially true if you plan to stay at the falls for a long time or if you plan to do other hikes in the park.
Picnic snacks or accessories
If you are visiting in late spring to early fall and love picnicking, bring your own picnic and enjoy a meal by the waterfall! It’s picturesque and fun on the water, even on a summer day in a cabin.
If you arrive early or late and don’t plan to have a picnic, bring something delicious while you admire the waterfall! We always take protein bars and fruit with us on our treks.
Camera and binoculars
Photographing waterfalls can be tricky, but if you like taking pictures with long exposure times, you should bring your own equipment. Burney Falls is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in California. The falls can be reached on foot, so it’s worth bringing your best camera and lens.
Don’t forget to take a video of the stunt, with your camera or your smartphone….. This is a memory you will cherish.
If you like bird watching, don’t forget to bring your binoculars. If we expect to see birds or wildlife, we bring our Celestron Trailseeker compact binoculars. They are waterproof and work well in low light conditions.
Good grip shoes
Wear sturdy shoes with closed toes and good traction. The areas around the waterfall can be wet and slippery. Beware of ice in the winter.
Bring insect repellent: the path is littered with forest. We use a natural insect repellent for most trails, and that’s what we used on this trail.
You want to protect your skin when you go camping. A waterproof sunscreen is perfect for this hike!
Here are some tips that we hope will make your visit to MacArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park enjoyable!
Learn and follow park safety rules.
Ask for the park or trail brochure at the kiosk at the entrance, or check the California State Parks website for tips on hiking and water safety. It is forbidden to swim in the diving pool.
Early or late visits for privacy
The Burney Falls Loop Trail is very popular because it is both scenic and not too difficult. Especially between April and November it is very busy on the path during the day.
If you arrive early or late, the hike is likely to be quieter and you will have the opportunity to enjoy the waterfall without many other visitors. You are also more likely to see birds and wildlife during this time.
The park is open during the day from 8 am to sunset. We arrived at the park at opening time and there were only two other cars. When we left around noon, everything was crowded.
Early or late arrival at car park
In high season (April to November) the parking lot can be full from mid-morning to late evening (around 4pm). Once the construction site is complete, access to the park will be closed and parking will be prohibited along Highway 89.
Come early or late to ensure you find parking when you arrive. And prefer a weekday visit to a weekend visit.
Visit between spring and autumn for good weather
Although Burney Falls flows year-round and the park is open year-round, it is advisable to visit between April and November for the best weather. Winter in California is the rainy season, and it can snow in the park, with icy trails and roads.
On summer days, however, it is often very busy. If you want to increase attendance, visit the museum in the spring or fall, on a weekday instead of the weekend, or visit the museum early or late in the day.
Enjoying flora and fauna
While Burney Falls is undoubtedly the main attraction of this hike, you should also pay attention to the flora and fauna. At the waterfall you may see black shearwaters or sea eagles flying overhead.
A walk through the Burney Falls Wooded Loop reveals a variety of vegetation, from ponderosa pines to Douglas firs, oaks and burly cedars. Fall is a great time for the colors of the leaves!
The park is home to a wide variety of animals, from rabbits and squirrels to coyotes and foxes. You can also observe other species of birds: woodpeckers, ospreys, peregrine falcons, etc.
Give more time than you think you need.
We’ve talked about it many times, but Bernie’s Falls is one of the most beautiful waterfalls you’ll see in the Golden State. It reminded us of the waterfalls in Plitvice National Park in Croatia.
Don’t stuff your itinerary with other activities on a day you want to visit a waterfall. Take more time to walk around and take more pictures, or just watch the water for a while longer on its fascinating journey from the top of the cliff to the bottom.
If you like to paint on film, the Backyard is a great place to capture Bernie’s waterfalls on canvas or paper.
Even if you come in the middle of summer, it can be much cooler at the waterfall in the canyon than in the parking lot.
Dress in layers, especially if you plan to arrive early or late or during the cooler months of the year. If you come during the colder months, you’ll definitely want to team up.
We always put our windbreakers or light jackets in the car when we go camping or traveling, no matter the season, and they come in handy more than once.
Do you like walking on scenic trails? Check out our other articles on hiking trails in California for hikes:
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frequently asked questions
How long does it take to walk to Burnie Falls?
View of Bernie’s Falls from the parking lot. For hikers with good mobility, it only takes about 5 minutes to get from the parking lot to the falls. You can easily see the falls from the parking lot if you don’t want to or can’t walk to the base of the falls.
what is the distance between Bernie Falls and Mount Shasta?
Directions: To reach McArthur-Burney Falls State Park from Mount Shasta, take Highway 89 east, about 55 miles from Highway 5.
How much does it cost to travel to Bernie Falls?
The rate increases for MacArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park are as follows: The price for a day’s use varies between $8 and $10. Additional camping fees of $8 to $10. The cost to launch a boat is $8 to $10.
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