The 10 Most Beautiful Waterfalls in Northern California

Written by Volia Nikaci
Published: May 24, 2022
Image Credit iStock.com/Bartfett
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When you think of Northern California, do you picture waterfalls? If not, you should! With its rocky peaks and sandy shores, the coast of Northern California feels like nothing else on earth. 

There are many waterfalls in Northern California, stretching from Yosemite to the Oregon border. Whether you’re looking for a fantastic place to take your next viral Instagram pic or just want to go for a relaxing hike, northern California has waterfalls for everyone.

These are 10 of the most beautiful waterfalls in Northern California that you will instantly fall in love with.

1. Yosemite Falls 

Yosemite Falls California
Yosemite Falls is the highest waterfall in Yosemite National Park.

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Location:Yosemite Village, CA
Nearby Attractions:Yosemite National Park
Animals to See:Western Tanager, Western Pond Turtle

Yosemite Falls is one of the tallest waterfalls in the world. The falls are actually made up of three cascades: Upper Yosemite Fall (1430 feet), Intermediate Falls (675 feet), and Lower Yosemite Fall (320 feet). It is possible to see Yosemite Falls from several locations in Yosemite Valley, including Yosemite Village and Yosemite Valley Lodge. While there are many beautiful waterfalls in Yosemite National Park, Yosemite Falls will definitely take your breath away.

2. Alamere Falls

Alamere Falls California
The Alamere Falls is a rare “tidefall,” which is a waterfall that runs directly into the ocean.

iStock.com/Jason Johnson

Location:Marin County, California
Nearby Attractions:Point Reyes National Seashore
Animals to See:Northern Elephant Seals, Long-tailed Weasel

Alamere Falls is a captivating waterfall located in the Phillip Burton wilderness. In addition, it is also a “tidefall,” a waterfall that flows directly into the ocean. In fact, it is one of the area’s only two tidefalls, the other being McWay Falls. It’s a breathtaking sight to see the water pouring down a steep cliff 30 feet deep into Wildcat Beach.

3. Bassi Falls

Bassi Falls California
The Bassi Falls Trail can be a great family hike in Northern California since it’s a beginner-friendly waterfall trail.

iStock.com/AlessandraRC

Location:El Dorado County, California
Nearby Attractions:El Dorado National Forest
Animals to See:Western Honeybee, Common Nighthawk

In the beautiful El Dorado National Forest, Bassi Falls stands at 109 feet tall. It’s hard to believe this gorgeous waterfall in Northern California is only a short hike away and is so captivating as it cascades over granite boulders. This waterfall is best visited in the spring when water is flowing most powerfully. Also, don’t wait until the summer to see this beauty! If you wait until summertime, you’ll find the waterfall all dried up.

4. Root Creek Falls

Location:Castella, CA
Nearby Attractions:Castle Crags State Park
Animals to See:Ring-necked Snake, Downy Woodpecker

Located in Northern California’s Castle Crags Wilderness, Root Creek Falls is yet another hidden gem. There are four waterfalls that cascade from the creek over to the pools below. From a distance, it looks like one big waterfall, but if you hike above the ravine or even into the gorge, you will see how these falls differ from one another.

5. Kings Creek Falls

Kings Creek Falls California
In the Lassen Volcanic National Park, there is a circular trail that leads to a scenic viewpoint of Kings Creek Falls.

Micheal Lee/Shutterstock.com

Location:Old Station, California
Nearby Attractions:Lassen Volcanic National Park
Animals to See:Black Bear, Sierra Nevada Red Fox

The most spectacular waterfall in Northern California is Kings Creek Falls. Located in Lassen Volcanic National Park, the 40 ft (12 m) waterfall is popular among hikers who seek a nature experience out in the wild or photographers who hope to get an amazing photograph. Kings Creek Falls, with its gushing descent down the cliffside, is among the most dramatic waterfalls in the region.

6. Hedge Creek Falls

Hedge Creek Falls Northern California
Below Hedge Creek Falls is a cave where visitors can walk behind the falling water.

iStock.com/Bartfett

Location:Dunsmuir, California
Nearby Attractions:Castle Crags State Park
Animals to See:Gopher Snake, Rattlesnakes

If you’re looking for a magical experience, then Hedge Creek Falls is the best waterfall in Northern California for you. This small waterfall provides an experience for tourists that is a lot more personal than some of the other waterfalls. The cascading waterfall, which is set against the backdrop of a cave 12 feet high (3.7 m), seems so mysterious. This charming waterfall will instantly capture your heart.

7. Potem Falls

Location:Montgomery Creek, CA
Nearby Attractions:Shasta-Trinity National Forest
Animals to See:Black-tailed Jackrabbit, Elk

One of the most spectacular waterfalls in Northern California can be found along the Pit River, part of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. It is only a short hike to Potem Creek, which cascades 70 feet over Potem Falls, before crashing into a rock-lined swimming hole. Since it’s off the beaten path, there aren’t as many people at Potem Falls as at falls like Burney Falls or McCloud River’s three waterfalls. In the summer, many people take advantage of the large pool area to cool off and relax.

8. Feather Falls

Feather Falls
Feather Falls is a 410-foot waterfall on the Feather River that flows year-round.

Radu Sava/Shutterstock.com

Location:Butte County, California
Nearby Attractions:Plumas National Forest
Animals to See:Canada Geese, Coyotes

There is a magnificent waterfall of Yosemite-like proportions in Northern California called Feather Falls, which plunges 410 feet into the Sierra Nevada environment. Feather Falls in Oroville was previously considered to be the sixth highest waterfall in the United States until careful measurements were taken. Many people like the fall because of the swimming holes and breathtaking scenery. The view of the canyon from the edge is breathtaking. However, make sure to be careful when you’re taking a look! 

9. Whiskeytown Falls

images of several of the waterfalls and streams of Whiskeytown
Whiskeytown Falls is a three-tiered waterfall standing at a height of 220 feet.

iStock.com/jim Schlett

Location:Whiskeytown, CA
Nearby Attractions:Whiskeytown National Recreation Area
Animals to See:Hummingbirds, Pacific Giant Salamander

Known as Hidden Falls, this 220-foot tall marvel remained a secret almost for years, unless you were lucky enough to find it. Before the establishment of the Whiskeytown National Recreation Center, there was no direct access to the waterfall. For a long time, only loggers and miners who worked in the area knew that the waterfall existed. The interesting feature of this waterfall is that the staircase that runs along the left side of the waterfall allows tourists to get up close to the rushing water as it cascades down the granite face of the waterfall. Overall, this is one waterfall in Northern California you don’t want to miss out on. 

10. Rainbow Falls 

Rainbow Falls North Carolina
Rainbow Falls is renowned for its colorful rainbows which are created by the mist that falls from it.

Patrick Jennings/Shutterstock.com

Location:Mammoth Lakes, CA 
Nearby Attractions:Devils Postpile National Monument
Animals to See:Big Horn Sheep, Mule Deer

Two miles downstream from Devil’s Postpile, the San Joaquin River tumbles over a 101-foot drop, creating rainbows visible in the mist. Midday is the greatest time to see rainbows since the sun is at its highest point. Following the easy 1.5-mile hike from the Reds Meadow area to Rainbow Falls, the thundering of the falls and the soothing mists entice you to remain and enjoy a picnic lunch.

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About the Author

Volia Nikaci is a freelance copywriter and content editor with a passion and expertise in content creation, branding, and marketing. She has a background in Broadcast Journalism & Political Science from CUNY Brooklyn College. When she's not writing she loves traveling, perusing used book stores, and hanging out with her other half.

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