Mill Creek Falls

Lassen Volcanic National Park / Redding / Red Bluff, California, USA

About Mill Creek Falls


Hiking Distance: 3.2 miles round trip
Suggested Time: 2 hours

Date first visited: 2016-06-21
Date last visited: 2016-06-21

Waterfall Latitude: 40.44051
Waterfall Longitude: -121.51305

Mill Creek Falls was kind of our waterfalling excuse to visit Lassen Volcanic National Park (though it wasn’t the only one in the reserve).

This waterfall featured a gushing 75ft drop just below the confluence of East Sulphur Creek along with Bumpass Creek.

Mill_Creek_Falls_077_06212016 - Mill Creek Falls
Mill Creek Falls

Bumpass Creek originated from the Bumpass Hot Springs in the famed Bumpass Hell part of the park.

Thus, Mom and I definitely whiffed traces of that rotten egg sulphur smell around the falls given the geothermal original of its feeding creeks.

Our mid- to late June visit in 2016 just so happened when much of Lassen Volcanic National Park was still under snow and ice throughout much of the reserve.

However, Mill Creek Falls was at low enough elevation that we were still able to do this hike.

Bumpass_Hell_256_07122016 - Bumpass Hell was the origin of Bumpass Creek, which gave Mill Creek Falls some of its geothermal and sulphur-rich qualities
Bumpass Hell was the origin of Bumpass Creek, which gave Mill Creek Falls some of its geothermal and sulphur-rich qualities

In fact, our early Summer hike was full of colorful mats of wildflowers backed by the technicolor volcanic peaks that kind of made us think of Lassen Volcanic as California’s humble answer to Yellowstone National Park.

Hiking to Mill Creek Falls

Our 3.2-mile round trip hike to Mill Creek Falls was accessed from the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center near the southwest entrance of the park (see directions below).

It had a net elevation gain of 300ft, but it had a bit of a V-shaped profile so it was considered to be a moderate in difficulty.

We wound up spending about 2.5 hours to complete this out-and-back hike, but we really took our time, especially at the brink of the falls.

Mill_Creek_Falls_113_06212016 - Mom looking down over the brink of Mill Creek Falls from a footbridge over East Sulphur Creek
Mom looking down over the brink of Mill Creek Falls from a footbridge over East Sulphur Creek

So it’s conceivable that it could take a bit less time to finish this hike if you were in more of a hurry.

Mill Creek Falls Trail Description

At first we had trouble finding the trail, but a ranger at the visitor center told us that the trail started adjacent to the amphitheater and campground just outside of the building.

From there, the trail descended towards West Sulphur Creek, where we crossed a bridge then swung around a little meadow-like area with colorful mats of wildflowers.

This area was even more compelling from a photography standpoint because it was backed by colorful volcanic mountains further adding to the stunning and picturesque scene.

Mill_Creek_Falls_034_06212016 - Looking down over the field of blooming wildflowers towards some of the surrounding volcanic peaks during the initial descent on the Mill Creek Falls Trail
Looking down over the field of blooming wildflowers towards some of the surrounding volcanic peaks during the initial descent on the Mill Creek Falls Trail

Then, the trail briefly climbed a bump before sharply descending into a lightly forested area.

After undulating up and down as well as in and out of forested sections, we’d eventually reach a short unbridged creek crossing.

Immediately after this crossing, the trail really began to climb in earnest.

Fortunately, most of the climb was in the shade of tall trees flanking us, but it was in this stretch that we would gain most of the net 300ft elevation.

Mill_Creek_Falls_056_06212016 - Unbridged crossing of a creek at the bottom of the Mill Creek Falls hike where the trail climbed most of the rest of the way
Unbridged crossing of a creek at the bottom of the Mill Creek Falls hike where the trail climbed most of the rest of the way

The climb may be modest numbers-wise, but it definitely felt a lot longer than that (probably due to the elevation loss at the beginning that we had to get back and more).

In one section where the trees had parted, we were able to glimpse across a canyon to our right (cut by East Sulphur Creek) towards some minor cascades running due to the snow melt.

After roughly over an hour on the trail, we finally arrived at an overlook peering right down at the entirety of Mill Creek Falls.

It was from this vantage point that we managed to get the photo you see at the top of this page.

Mill_Creek_Falls_062_06212016 - Mom followed by a few hikers on the final long ascent up to the overlook of Mill Creek Falls
Mom followed by a few hikers on the final long ascent up to the overlook of Mill Creek Falls

The trail continued towards the footbridges spanning both East Sulphur Creek and Bumpass Creek above the falls.

That second footbridge was as far as we’d go.

In order to celebrate our little accomplishment of making it to the falls, we spoiled ourselves with a picnic lunch near its brink where we were joined by dozens of other people.

Given how we managed to see many hikers going in both directions throughout the trail, we knew that this hike was indeed a very popular one.

Mill_Creek_Falls_099_06212016 - Context of Mom checking out Mill Creek Falls from its overlook
Context of Mom checking out Mill Creek Falls from its overlook

Anyways, the scene at the top of Mill Creek Falls was such that we didn’t want to leave too quickly.

However, once we were done with our snack and water break while having our fill of the Mill Creek Falls (along with the faint sulphur smell), we then returned the way we came.

The reeturn hike was mostly downhill with a few minor uphill sections.

Then, we got to experience the wildflowers (especially in that stretch close to the bridge over West Sulphur Creek) all over again.

Mill_Creek_Falls_171_06212016 - Mom hiking back through some fields of wildflowers backed by scenic volcanic mountains on the final climb back to the Mill Creek Falls Trailhead
Mom hiking back through some fields of wildflowers backed by scenic volcanic mountains on the final climb back to the Mill Creek Falls Trailhead

The hike ended with that final ascent back up to the visitor center.

Authorities

Mill Creek Falls resides in Lassen Volcanic National Park near Red Bluff and Redding in Plumas County, California. It is administered by the National Park Service. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Mill_Creek_Falls_009_06212016 - Mom getting onto the Mill Creek Falls Trail after passing behind the amphitheater where I'd imagine rangers might run night time programs or tell kids night time stories
Mill_Creek_Falls_014_06212016 - Mom starting the initial descent on the Mill Creek Falls hike as we were leaving the commotion of the Koh Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center behind
Mill_Creek_Falls_017_06212016 - Mom continuing on the initial descent amongst some trees with hints of volcanic peaks in the distance
Mill_Creek_Falls_025_06212016 - Crossing over a bridge spanning West Sulphur Creek at the bottom of the initial descent of the Mill Creek Falls Trail
Mill_Creek_Falls_036_06212016 - Mom on a brief ascent after the crossing of West Sulphur Creek on the Mill Creek Falls Trail
Mill_Creek_Falls_039_06212016 - After the bridge, Mom and I passed by lovely mats of blooming wildflowers really adding color to this section of the hike to Mill Creek Falls
Mill_Creek_Falls_040_06212016 - This descent was one of the many undulations we had to do before the Mill Creek Falls hike really started to climb as it approached East Sulphur Creek
Mill_Creek_Falls_042_06212016 - We spotted this marmot along the Mill Creek Falls Trail as there was definitely late Spring or early Summer conditions at Lassen Volcanic due to the apparent abundance of wildlife activity
Mill_Creek_Falls_050_06212016 - In addition to undulating, the Mill Creek Falls Trail also went in and out of groves of tall trees providing some degree of shade from the sun
Mill_Creek_Falls_053_06212016 - This was another undulating part of the Mill Creek Falls Trail where we briefly descended after passing by another scenic stretch with lots of wildflowers
Mill_Creek_Falls_060_06212016 - After the unbridged creek crossing, the Mill Creek Falls Trail climbed in earnest as we weaved between more tall trees
Mill_Creek_Falls_067_06212016 - Here was a stretch of the Mill Creek Falls hike where the trees momentarily opened up and allowed us to assess our surroundings
Mill_Creek_Falls_069_06212016 - One of the things we noticed during the climbing part of the Mill Creek Falls hike was this thin cascade way on the other side of the canyon to our right
Mill_Creek_Falls_082_06212016 - After over an hour of hiking, we finally arrived at the overlook of Mill Creek Falls
Mill_Creek_Falls_085_06212016 - Zoomed in look at the Mill Creek Falls from the overlook so you can see its scale from the people having a picnic further upstream
Mill_Creek_Falls_091_06212016 - Here's a more focused look at Mill Creek Falls in long exposure thanks to the railings that were here acting as a tripod
Mill_Creek_Falls_096_06212016 - Broad long-exposed shot of the Mill Creek Falls from its overlook
Mill_Creek_Falls_097_06212016 - Looking up at some bare volcanic peaks from near the overlook of Mill Creek Falls
Mill_Creek_Falls_103_06212016 - Another look at the Mill Creek Falls from the overlook before we finally made the final descent to get right up to it
Mill_Creek_Falls_111_06212016 - Mom continuing the hike to get closer to Mill Creek Falls, which went around a hill
Mill_Creek_Falls_116_06212016 - Looking downstream over the brink of Mill Creek Falls from one of the footbridges
Mill_Creek_Falls_119_06212016 - Nearby the brink of Mill Creek Falls, we noticed more craggy volcanic peaks barely revealing themselves
Mill_Creek_Falls_125_06212016 - We noticed these wildflowers while having a picnic lunch at the top of Mill Creek Falls
Mill_Creek_Falls_127_06212016 - This was our picnic lunch spot, which was pretty much at the brink of Mill Creek Falls
Mill_Creek_Falls_132_06212016 - On the hike back to the trailhead, we got to experience the Mill Creek Falls overlook one last time
Mill_Creek_Falls_149_06212016 - Closeup look at one of the wildflowers that we noticed on the return hike from Mill Creek Falls
Mill_Creek_Falls_152_06212016 - And as we got closer to West Sulphur Creek on the return hike from Mill Creek Falls, we got to walk amongst these extensive colorful mats of wildflowers
Mill_Creek_Falls_156_06212016 - Mom ascending the hill full of wildflowers before making the final ascent to finish the Mill Creek Falls hike
Mill_Creek_Falls_157_06212016 - Examining still more wildflowers on display along the Mill Creek Falls Trail
Mill_Creek_Falls_178_06212016 - Looking back towards the open meadow-like scene that we had just passed on the return hike from Mill Creek Falls
Mill_Creek_Falls_191_06212016 - Another look over mats of wildflowers towards one of the colorful peaks on the return hike from Mill Creek Falls. It was real hard not to stop here for a while
Mill_Creek_Falls_197_06212016 - Mom making the final ascent back up to the visitor center to end the Mill Creek Falls hike
Mill_Creek_Falls_200_06212016 - After 2.5 hours away, we finally made it back to the Mill Creek Falls trailhead as we approached the familiar amphitheater
Mill_Creek_Falls_204_06212016 - One last look back at the Koh Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center as we were about to return to the car
Mill_Creek_Falls_206_06212016 - Just before leaving Mill Creek Falls, we spotted in the distance what appeared to be a natural arch way up in the volcanic cliffs thuogh I'm not sure if it's accessible
Lassen_031_06212016 - Here's another look at the interesting natural arch that we noticed near the trailhead for Mill Creek Falls

join-booking-970x240-1.jpg


To get to Mill Creek Falls from the town of Red Bluff (where we stayed), we briefly drove south on the I-5 before taking the exit 649 for Hwy 36.

At the light, we turned left to go east on Hwy 36, which would then continue after turning left once we got beyond the east end of town (roughly two miles east of the I-5).

From there, we followed the Hwy 36 for about 43 miles to the junction with Hwy 89.

This long stretch started off passing through pretty dry rolling hills before it entered the mountains.

Mill_Creek_Falls_004_06212016 - The Mill Creek Falls hike began near the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center by the south entrance to Lassen Volcanic National Park
The Mill Creek Falls hike began near the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center by the south entrance to Lassen Volcanic National Park

The junction with the Hwy 89 was a few miles east of the small hamlet of Mineral.

Turning left to go north on Hwy 89, we then continued to go north for about five miles to the southwest entrance for Lassen Volcanic National Park.

At the time of our visit, the entrance fee per vehicle was $20.

Just on the other side of the kiosk was the large parking area for the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center, which was where the Mill Creek Falls Trail started.

Overall, this drive took us a little over an hour.

Mill_Creek_Falls_008_06212016 - Context of the end of the parking lot and the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center where we looked for the Mill Creek Falls Trailhead
Context of the end of the parking lot and the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center where we looked for the Mill Creek Falls Trailhead

From Redding, we would drive east on Hwy 44 for around 46 miles to its junction with Hwy 89.

Then, we’d take Hwy 89 south (right) into the northern side of Lassen Volcanic National Park and drive for the next 30 miles or so to the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center just before the park’s southwest entrance.

The caveat for this road was that due to high elevation, it can be closed due to snow and ice.

To give you an idea of the geographical context, Red Bluff was 186 miles (under 3 hours drive) north of San Francisco, 131 miles (about 2 hours drive) north of Sacramento, 178 miles (3 hours drive) south of Medford, Oregon, 192 miles (about 3.5 hours drive) northwest of Reno, Nevada, and 515 miles (about 7.5 hours drive) north of Los Angeles.

Checking out the falls from the overlook as well as some craggy peaks in the distance


Starting from some upper cascades seen at the upper bridge, then walked down to the lower bridge and did a 360 degree sweep over the brink of the falls

Related Top 10 Lists

No Posts Found

Tagged with: lassen, volcanic, national park, redding, red bluff, california, northern california, waterfall, plumas, sulphur works, east sulphur creek, bumpass creek, bumpass hot springs, bumpass hell, kohm yah-mah-nee, visitor center, mineral



Visitor Comments:

No users have replied to the content on this page


Share your thoughts about what you've read on this page

You must be logged in to submit content. Refresh this page after you have logged in.

Visitor Reviews of this Waterfall:

No users have submitted a write-up/review of this waterfall


Have you been to a waterfall? Submit a write-up/review and share your experiences or impressions

Review A Waterfall

Nearest Waterfalls

Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
Read More About Johnny | A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls.