|Chambers Creek Falls
Feather River Canyon
June 5, 2010
Just a month ago, I trekked about halfway up this trail, then turned back for reasons not entirely clear in retrospect. Photos of the lower portion of this trail include some taken on May 5.
An easy 120-mile drive gets me to the trailhead on beautiful
Highway-70. The thermometer is up to 71° already;
so it's going to be a warm outing.
About a hundred yards off a closed dirt road, a little sign pointing
to the right takes me to the only obstacle on today's
a fording of Granite Creek, which necessitates a tricky balancing act
during this period of high water.
That log could use some reinforcement
Within five minutes of crossing the little stream, I encounter a profusion of wildflowers lining the trail on both sides. I also am treated to a spiffy new warning sign.
Monkeyflowers and Daisies abound
|The power lines will go away soon, I hope||Bad guys lurk ahead|
Even though I got a dose of poison oak across my face on the American River several weeks ago, already I am too busy shooting flowers to worry about such things now.
|Pacific Bleeding Heart||Mountain Dandelion|
|Enjoying the Woolly Sunflower||Western Morning Glory|
|Kellogg's Monkeyflower||Pine Violet|
The show gets better and better as I continue up the trail. I never have seen so much paintbrush, and the little purple monkeyflowers litter the trail to the extent that it is impossible to avoid stepping on them.
The Paintbrush are awesome
|Blue Witch Nightshade||Heartleaf Milkweed|
The trail is only moderately steep, but the grade is relentless.
Today's heat is causing me to take more breathers than usual.
It was somewhere near here that I curtailed my prior trip, after an
Unbeknownst to me at that time, the trail soon enters the forest at the
thousand-foot level, unexpectedly morphing from a hot, shadeless route
into a verdant environment of ferns and moist air. For the first time,
I can hear the sounds of rushing Chambers Creek down and to my right.
The entire route is joyfully easy on the feet
|Pacific Stonecrop||Hartweg's Iris|
As I lie prostrate across the trail photographing flora, a hiker couple comes down around the corner, stopping just in time to avoid stepping on me.
The only hikers I would see today
|A variety of Sandwort||The big leaves are Wild Ginger|
Presently I get a glimpse of the creek itself. Around the next turn is a nifty footbridge, built back in the 1930s by the CCC men.
First view of Chambers Creek
|Evidence of a relatively recent fire||The destination appears|
Chambers Creek Falls actually is a 4,000-foot cascade
It so happens that the 'falls' portion of the creek is almost totally obscured from view by trees. Bummer. As no use trail is in evidence, either, I judge that an attempt to get closer would be minimally rewarding and probably dangerous.
|Views above and below the bridge|
Thus far, my ascent has been just 1600 feet — less than
expected. The trail continues much farther up the mountain,
so I humor myself by plodding onward for about another
until my altimeter shows a 2000-foot gain. I would have
gone farther had there been anything particularly exciting to see.
As it is, however, this effort rewards me with views across and above
Beyond the bridge
|A fanciful formation||Cascade across the canyon to the south|
|Chambers Peak, 6096*||Pussy Paws|
Bald Eagle Mountain, 7183'
Back near the bridge, I scramble down the embankment to a nice viewpoint, remove my boots and socks, and munch some gorp.
Chambers Creek just below the footbridge
I still have fully half my water, indicating that the air temperature had not been as big an issue as was anticipated. Upon starting back, ever more flower varieties present themselves.
It's mellow going, downhill
A number of butterfly species have been flitting about. One particular chalcedon checkerspot leaves me little choice but to capture its image for posterity.
This is why I go hiking
A few more bugs and flowers see me the remainder of the way down the mountain. I never stop marvelling over today's floral display, because it never stops.
|Ladybug, ladybug, fly away home||Having a three-way?|
|Many-flowered Brodiaea||Pine Forest Larkspur|
It is 81 degrees at the trailhead; but I have survived without undue discomfort. I didn't even consume all my water.
§: The falls themselves were disappointing, and it was a bit too warm for comfort. Nevertheless, I have upgraded this hike's rating based upon a pair of superlatives:
Early May is a great time to visit, before it becomes hot. Should you venture here the day after a nice rain, Feather River Canyon will be awash in scenic cascades as well.
Today's bonus was a first-ever encounter with a fresh-water otter, near roadside during the drive home: