Hedge Creek Falls was the other main waterfall attraction in Dunsmuir. Unlike the more tense Mossbrae Falls experience, this was quite literally a short walk in the park leading to a pleasant 30ft waterfall that also had the added bonus of being flanked by hexagonal basalt cliffs as well as a deep enough alcove in back of the falls to let us have that rare experience of being behind a waterfall! Indeed, the brief walk down from the Hedge Creek Picnic Area was a mere quarter-mile round trip, and even its trailhead access was quite literally almost right next to the I-5 off-ramp making it the perfect place to stretch your legs and take a break from the long drives along the I-5 (see directions below). There have been plans since before 2011 to make this experience more than just a stroll as various interests desired to build a trail that would start at this falls and ultimately link up with the nearby Mossbrae Falls. In fact, we even noticed the trail continuing beyond Hedge Creek Falls though we didn’t go far enough down that trail to see where it went. You can read more about the story behind that development on our Mossbrae Falls page.
From the trailhead parking, we took the crosswalk traversing Dunsmuir Ave, then walked right into a little park with a garden as well as a little gazeebo with some signage about a Lion’s Club here. The trail then promptly descended a couple of gentle switchbacks before reaching the level of Hedge Creek. The trail then went upstream approaching the popular waterfall. Most of our time spent here was pretty much chilling around this falls, where we got to view it from various angles on both sides of the creek as well as from its backside. The basalt columns flanking the falls here were very interesting as apparently a mixture of hard basaltic lava hardened by a glacier was likely to have been the geologic ingredients necessary to give rise to this falls. Anyways, out of the 45 minutes we spent away from the car, I’d say we probably only spent around 15-20 minutes on the trail (encompassing both directions).
The waterfall was flowing pretty well during our visit though we happened to be here in mid-June on a year where Northern California received some much-needed precipitation (although not as much as was hoped for). I’ve read that not much deeper into the Summer months, this falls could reduce to a trickle and even go dry. As for the lighting, we were here in the late morning, and we pretty much looked at the falls against the sun when we were on the far side of Hedge Creek. For that reason, I’d imagine afternoon or earlier in the morning (when the sun still hadn’t penetrated the canyon floor) would be the best times to photograph the falls.
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). Redding seemed to be a pretty central location for not only the Whiskeytown National Recreation Area (including several waterfalls like Whiskeytown Falls, Boulder Creek Falls, Brandy Creek Falls, and Crystal Creek Falls, among others), but it was also reasonably close to other attractions like Lassen Volcanic National Park as well as Mt Shasta.
From the Hwy 44/I-5 interchange, we continued north along the interstate for roughly 53.5 miles (about an hour’s drive) to the Dunsmuir Ave/Siskiyou Ave off-ramp (exit 732). This off-ramp was roughly 4.5 miles north of the vista point turnoff with a view of Mt Shasta and 1.5 miles north of the exit 730 ramp that we took to access Mossbrae Falls. We then turned left to access Dunsmuir Ave before turning right onto Dunsmuir Ave. Almost immediately after turning right, the roadside shoulder that was there also acted as the Hedge Creek Falls Trailhead Parking (almost right across from a Castle Rock Water facility). A couple of signs (including one across the street with a silhouette of a train as Dunsmuir had quite a bit of a locomotive history that would make Thomas proud) ensured that we were in the right place. This drive would take roughly an hour from Redding.
Alternatively, if we were going south on the I-5 from Mt Shasta, then it would be roughly 6.5 miles south before the Dunsmuir Ave/Siskiyou Ave exit 732. Once we’d get off at this exit, we’d then make consecutive right turns to access the trailhead parking.
To give you an idea of the 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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