If I’m ever strapped to a gurney in the back of an ambulance traveling along CA-89 between Mt. Shasta and Burney, I’m going to ask the EMTs to pull off at McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park. Then I’ll beg them to wheel me out of the ambulance and over to the Burney Falls Overlook. They could push me the 150 feet, park me by the low volcanic-rock wall, then have a snack break while I take in the magnificent view of the waterfalls.
My jello on sticks* began to quiver about halfway down, so I took advantage of one of the benches that appeared at regular intervals along the trail. Note the water fountain and stunning view–this trail makes it seem like a treat to sit and rest for a few minutes.
Down at the base of the falls, the endless cascade of spring water kicks up such a cloud of spray that the ambient temperature drops about 15 degrees (compared to the overlook point). Convenient volcanic rocks make nice seats from which to admire the water spraying straight out of the basalt cliff face.
The trip back up the trail wasn’t as arduous as I’d feared. The stairs were designed by some sort of genius and a quarter of a mile just isn’t that far.
Another pleasant, mostly flat trail, the Pioneer Cemetery Trail, runs through the scraggly to (surprise!) the rather uninspiring Pioneer Cemetery, then on to one of the shore access points of Lake Britton. I thought of it as a nice afternoon stroll through a classic horror movie set.
Two other fabulous features of this California State Park:
1. Lake Britton, a medium-sized squid-shaped reservoir with a boat launch, boat rentals, sandy swimming beach, and delicious super-fresh blackberries in the fall. Power boats allowed, fishing encouraged (with license!), swimming awesome in late summer when the water’s had time to warm up.
2. Structure camping. That is, campsites with minimalist cabins perched on them. What makes this special for chronic travelers? Sleeping in a real bed indoors, rather than in a tent on the (cold, hard, lumpy) ground. Down side–no bathrooms. Cabin-dwellers get to shiver their way out to the public restrooms at 3am like everybody else.
Final chronic traveler analysis: Love MacArthur-Burney like mad. I’ve never seen a waterfall trail better suited to the needs of a chronic traveler than the one at Burney Falls. And I’m thinking of renting one of the little cabin-things and dragging friends up for a lake-and-hike week here next summer.