About Potem Falls
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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