McArthur-Burney State Park, Burney California

An Alpine Day Trip

We took a day ride from Redding, up to Burney Falls on Friday, April 24th.  It was cloudy when we left and as we climbed it got colder and colder, and as the day wore on it rained too. A wonderful thing in this water starved state!  This change in temperature is a nice thing about the Shasta area. Its very hot in the summer, but you can get to the higher elevations near Lassen within an hour and its usually much cooler.  Often times the roads in Lassen are closed due to snow until mid-summer so the wild flowers are very late blooming there. This makes a nice summer drive even more beautiful.

The foothills of the Sierra are dotted with many mountains. It was already raining at the top of this one which we passed on our route to Burney Falls.

Burney Falls was the second California state park to be formed. Samuel Burney was an early settler to the area in the mid 1800’s. In the 1920’s his decedents deeded the land to the state so that it could be preserved. Prior to the arrival of caucasians, several Indian tribes populated the area. They are now known as the Pit Indians because of the way that they trapped deer. They would dig a pit and wait for an animal to fall into the pit.


I wish we had gone to Burney Falls when our kids were young. Its a small park, but has everything you would need to keep kids happy for at least a week. The camp sites are large and camp fires are allowed in designated sites. (This privilege is becoming rare in private campgrounds.



IMG_1850They have showers and a little store. If you don’t want to tent camp the cottages are very nice and affordable. They have electricity and heaters inside. They are much nicer than many we have seen in private campgrounds. I think that staying in cottages is a  great way to travel if you don’t want to set up a tent every night, and you don’t have an RV. Most KOA campgrounds have cabins and this is also a good way for single moms to take their kids camping. They have the safety of being able to lock the door at night, but can have the rest of the camping experience such as cooking outside, having a campfire etc.


The lake in the park, Lake Britton, is large and you can rent paddle boats, as well as patio boats for the day. There is a swimming beach roped off for the kids, which is where I’m sure most families spend a great deal of their time.



The falls themselves are not as spectacular as many we have seen, but they are never ending. Unlike most waterfalls that depend upon snow melt the Burney Falls source of water is from underground springs. We were restricted from taking the dog down to the pools at the base of the waterfalls so if you take your dog you will have to take turns going on this trail and you are forbidden to leave the dog in the car.

Going up and back down we saw many dogwood trees in season and a few wild flowers. In past trips to Lassen the meadows were covered with wild flowers, but it was a bit early for the massive show that you get in June and July in the higher altitudes.  If you want to see Lassen National Park, try to put aside a few days to stay at Burney too.

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