Hatchet Creek Falls (Lions Slide Falls)

Shasta Trinity National Forest / Montgomery Creek / Shasta Lake / Shasta County, California, USA

Rating: 1     Difficulty: 2
Hatchet Creek Falls, which was also known as Lions Slide Falls according to some maps

TABLE OF CONTENTS



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INTRODUCTION

Hatchet Creek Falls (also known as Lions Slide Falls) was one of those waterfalls that we really had to earn with a few scrapes along with bumps and bruises thanks to a fairly uncomfortable scramble to reach it. Maybe it was for that reason that it also might be one of the more alluring swimming holes for as you can see in the photo above, the waterfall itself was fairly attractive, but it was really the chance at a little seclusion in a calm pool to cool off from the Summer heat that might make one argue that the slight bit of inconvenience was worth it. In fact, Mom and I noticed quite a few old clothes hanging on some trees as well as some bottle caps strewn about here and there that hinted to us that it might have been a frequented spot by some locals in the know. Nevertheless, this was the second waterfall stop that we made from Redding to Burney Falls so the relative obscurity of this falls might have also been a blessing in disguise.

We started off the scramble from a large pullout next to a bridge at the so-called Big Bend (see directions below). At the far end of the pullout, we noticed that there were two entrances - one left and one right. We learned the hard way that we should take the path on the right (even though there was a small stream running right on the trail creating some muddy spots). That was because the left path went further downstream and any trails leading upstream were actually false trails from people who probably made the same mistake that we did. Those false trails quickly because dicey scrambles along Hatchet Creek that were overgrown and thus making the "trail" ill-defined. We were fortunate to follow some very faint and overgrown trail linking the scramble with the trail we should have taken in the first place and that was how we were able to proceed.

Anyways, assuming we took the correct path in the first place, just follow the trail as it led towards Hatchet Creek from higher ground. There was a fallen log that we had to climb over to continue the trail, but then just a few minutes later, we reached more steeper terrain as well as another larger fallen tree that we had to duck under to continue. The trail here was pretty much a steep scramble alongside the other side of the fallen tree before we picked up the faint trail ultimately leading us down to the wide plunge pool at the base of Hatchet Creek Falls. In order to get right in front of the falls, there were a lot of rocks in the stream that we were able to scramble upon though our direct view of the falls was against the mid-morning sun.

Still, we felt that this place was really more about the swimming and seclusion than it was about the aesthetics of the waterfall. And since we were here at the start of Summer where much of California was undergoing a heat wave, this was the perfect place to relax and chill out after the fairly rough scrambling we had to go through to get here. Overall, we had spent about 40 minutes away from the car though probably 30 minutes of that time was on the quarter-mile or less scramble. And while the short distance may make the excursion seem very easy, its down-and-dirty nature (especially since I earned a few cuts on my shins and a fairly nasty gash on my shoulder from a protruding tree branch) forced us to bump up the difficulty score.




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PHOTO JOURNAL

The closest waterfall to Hatchet Creek Falls during our Redding and Tahoe trip in June 2016 was Potem Falls, which was a much less demanding hiking experience than this oneThe closest waterfall to Hatchet Creek Falls during our Redding and Tahoe trip in June 2016 was Potem Falls, which was a much less demanding hiking experience than this one
Hatchet Creek Falls was the second waterfall we visited on the way to Burney Falls, which was the main waterfall attraction we had targeted that day (for good reason as you can see here)Hatchet Creek Falls was the second waterfall we visited on the way to Burney Falls, which was the main waterfall attraction we had targeted that day (for good reason as you can see here)
This was the big pullout right before the Big Bend Road curved and crossed a bridge over Hatchet CreekThis was the big pullout right before the Big Bend Road curved and crossed a bridge over Hatchet Creek

At first, Mom and I made the mistake of taking the path on the left, where the upstream scramble degenerated into an ill-defined rough and dicey route searchAt first, Mom and I made the mistake of taking the path on the left, where the upstream scramble degenerated into an ill-defined rough and dicey route search

When we regained the trail we should have followed in the first place, the ground was wetter and muddier, but the going was a lot easierWhen we regained the trail we should have followed in the first place, the ground was wetter and muddier, but the going was a lot easier

Mom and I had to climb over this fallen tree to continue the scrambleMom and I had to climb over this fallen tree to continue the scramble

It didn't take long before we could finally start seeing Hatchet Creek Falls so we knew we had to keep goingIt didn't take long before we could finally start seeing Hatchet Creek Falls so we knew we had to keep going

This was the second big fallen tree that we encountered on the scramble, but this time, we had to crawl underneath it then make a steep descent to get down to the level of Hatchet CreekThis was the second big fallen tree that we encountered on the scramble, but this time, we had to crawl underneath it then make a steep descent to get down to the level of Hatchet Creek

Finally made it to the calm plunge pool before Hatchet Creek FallsFinally made it to the calm plunge pool before Hatchet Creek Falls

This was the rock scramble we had to make in order to get right in the middle of Hatchet Creek and get a direct look at the fallsThis was the rock scramble we had to make in order to get right in the middle of Hatchet Creek and get a direct look at the falls

A direct look at Hatchet Creek Falls or Lions Slide FallsA direct look at Hatchet Creek Falls or Lions Slide Falls

After having our fill of Lions Slide Falls, Mom was making the scramble back to the trail-of-use using her trekking poles as balancing aidsAfter having our fill of Lions Slide Falls, Mom was making the scramble back to the trail-of-use using her trekking poles as balancing aids

Now resuming the bush scramble to get back to the car from Hatchet Creek FallsNow resuming the bush scramble to get back to the car from the falls

Following the more obvious trail that we should have taken from the very beginningFollowing the more obvious trail that we should have taken from the very beginning

Mom back at the trailheadMom back at the trailhead


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VIDEOS OF THE FALLS


Checking out Hatchet Creek Falls then scrambling to the middle of the stream for a more direct look


360 degree sweep from the middle of the stream before Hatchet Creek Falls


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DRIVING DIRECTIONS

We'll pick up the driving directions from the city of Redding (even though we were actually staying in the town of Red Bluff some 30 miles further to the south along the I-5). In addition to the many waterfalls in the Shasta Trinity National Forest, Redding seemed to be a pretty central location the Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, Lassen Volcanic National Park, and Mt Shasta.

So from the I-5 north in the town of Redding, we then took the Hwy 299 exit heading east. From there, we drove for about 34 miles (passing through the towns of Round Mountain and Montgomery Creek) towards a signed turnoff for Big Bend Rd on our left. Big Bend Road was roughly 4.5 miles or so past the turnoff for Fenders Ferry Road (which led to Potem Falls. Once we turned left onto Big Bend Road, we then followed this road for the next 0.8 miles to a fairly large pullout on the right side of the road just before the road curved towards the bridge over Hatchet Creek. This pullout was where we stopped the car and started the scramble.

For some additional geographical context, Redding was 217 miles (over 3 hours drive) north of San Francisco, 162 miles (about 2.5 hours drive) north of Sacramento, 150 miles (2.5 hours drive) south of Medford, Oregon, and 546 miles (over 7.5 hours drive) north of Los Angeles.




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ITINERARIES

For more information about our itineraries involving this waterfall, check out the following links.




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MAP OF THE FALLS



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TRIP REPORTS

For more information about our experiences with this waterfall, check out the following travel stories.




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TRIP PLANNING RESOURCES





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NEARBY WATERFALLS




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