Potem Falls

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

About Potem Falls


Hiking Distance: 1/2-mile round trip
Suggested Time: 30 minutes

Date first visited: 2016-06-20
Date last visited: 2016-06-20

Waterfall Latitude: 40.83919
Waterfall Longitude: -122.02821

Potem Falls (also referred to as Potem Creek Falls) could have easily been in its own waterfall attraction complete with picnic area, parking lot, signs, and the like.

After all, it featured an attractive 70ft plunge with a wide and deep enough pool that seemed very inviting for a swim on a hot day.

Potem_Falls_090_06202016 - Potem Falls
Potem Falls

As if that wasn’t enough, the drive and short hike to access it were pretty straightforward and manageable (provided you know where to look).

That said, Potem Falls seemed to be kind of an obscure waterfall with no signage nor seemingly any infrastructure to indicate its presence.

In fact, when Mom and I made our visit to this falls, it made us wonder just how this place was “found” in the first place.

Perhaps it was competing with the likes of Burney Falls, McCloud Falls, and several others, that it was pretty much relegated to only locals-in-the-know status, or known only to those specifically targeting this waterfall for a visit.

Potem_Falls_102_06202016 - Looking towards some kind of dam infrastructure near Potem Falls, which might be a reason why people have 'found' this waterfall
Looking towards some kind of dam infrastructure near Potem Falls, which might be a reason why people have ‘found’ this waterfall

I had theorized that because it was near a dam and the road was frequented by logging trucks, that perhaps the people doing the work here must have stumbled across Potem Falls.

Experiencing Potem Falls

Anyways, despite its obscure nature, once we knew where to pull over and stop the car (see directions below), we knew were in the right place as we could already hear Potem Falls making noise.

From there, we spotted a pretty obvious trail that immediately descended a few long switchbacks below the trailhead.

At the first switchback, we were able to get partial angled views down at the falls though the steep scrambling path to get right on the cliff’s edge seemed kind of dicey.

Potem_Falls_005_06202016 - Mom making her way down to Potem Falls from the unmarked pullout
Mom making her way down to Potem Falls from the unmarked pullout

So we continued walking on the well-used path leading away from the falls towards the last switchback.

Then, the trail descended back into the morning shade reaching the well-vegetated bottom of the gorge.

In order to get close to the wide plunge pool, we had to make a couple of slippery scrambles, but they were pretty manageable.

The footing was slippery due to the presence of mist that would often waft its way towards the trail and vegetation.

Potem_Falls_011_06202016 - Mom descending the tight switchbacks leading to the Potem Falls
Mom descending the tight switchbacks leading to the Potem Falls

It was merely a quarter-mile hike in each direction, and most of our time spent here was mostly trying to compose photographs while a morning rainbow was appearing at the waterfall’s base.

When all was said and done, we had spent about 45 minutes away from the car.

Of that time, probably 25-30 minutes of that time was spent hiking.

I’d imagine that later in the day when the sun would be directly overhead, this place would be the perfect spot for a swim to cool off.

Potem_Falls_052_06202016 - Broad look across the plunge pool at the Potem Falls
Broad look across the plunge pool at the Potem Falls

In the morning, the shadows were long, and I’d imagine the water would be bitterly cold since most of the runoff here would come from snowmelt.

Authorities

Potem Falls resides in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest near Redding and Burney in Shasta County, California. It is administered by the USDA Forest Service. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Potem_Falls_001_06202016 - Looking back at the unpaved road leading to the unsigned pullout for Potem Falls
Potem_Falls_008_06202016 - Mom descending on the fairly straightforward trail to Potem Falls
Potem_Falls_013_06202016 - Angled look down at Potem Falls from that first switchback
Potem_Falls_016_06202016 - Mom continuing to make her way down towards Potem Falls as we swung towards the second switchback
Potem_Falls_020_06202016 - After the second switchback, we could see that Potem Falls was tantalizingly close up ahead
Potem_Falls_024_06202016 - Finally making it down to the Potem Falls
Potem_Falls_029_06202016 - As we went further along the trail to the Potem Falls, we noticed that the trail seemed to disappear at the cliffs
Potem_Falls_033_06202016 - Focused look at the secluded Potem Falls
Potem_Falls_046_06202016 - Another look at Potem Falls with a rainbow rising up from its mist
Potem_Falls_059_06202016 - A more direct look at Potem Falls as it was producing an attractive rainbow from its base
Potem_Falls_088_06202016 - Another focused look at Potem Falls as its rainbow was becoming more pronounced
Potem_Falls_093_06202016 - Mom climbing back up to the trailhead after having had her fill of the Potem Falls
Potem_Falls_101_06202016 - Mom continuing to make her way back up from Potem Falls

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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 30 miles towards the towns of Round Mountain and Montgomery Creek.

Potem_Falls_110_06202016 - This was the fork we took to the at the unsigned junction (signposted 34N17) shortly before we reached the narrow bridge
This was the fork we took to the at the unsigned junction (signposted 34N17) shortly before we reached the narrow bridge

That was where we turned left onto the Fenders Ferry Road.

We’d follow this road for the next 8.25 miles or so (it became unpaved and a little washboarded in places for the last 6.5 miles) as we approached a road junction.

We kept left at this junction (signposted 34N17) where it made a bend and descended towards a narrow bridge spanning an impressive gorge.

Upstream from the bridge was some kind of infrastructure or dam that the maps labeled as the Pit 7 Reservoir.

Potem_Falls_107_06202016 - The narrow bridge spanning the impressive gorge near the Pit 7 Reservoir
The narrow bridge spanning the impressive gorge near the Pit 7 Reservoir

It might have been one of the waterways that were held up by the many dams that made up the greater Shasta Lake.

Beyond the bridge, we drove around 0.6 miles to an unsigned pullout coming around a bend.

Since there were no signs, we turned off the radio and got out of the car to listen for Potem Falls.

Fortunately, the sounds of rushing water was loud enough to hint that we were in the right spot.

Potem_Falls_002_06202016 - Context of the obscure pullout where we started our short hike down to the Potem Falls
Context of the obscure pullout where we started our short hike down to the Potem Falls

We also noticed a trail of use descending from this wide pullout and shoulder next to the road bend as well as a pair of poles protruding from a concrete block (there might have been a sign here before).

Nevertheless, this drive took us about 90 minutes from Red Bluff.

It was on the order of an hour east of Redding.

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.

Checking out Potem Falls from a couple of different angles along the trail


Checking out the environment and the base of Potem Falls with rainbow

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Tagged with: montgomery creek, shasta lake, shasta trinity, national forest, redding, california, northern california, waterfall



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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.
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