Are you ready for an adventurous and refreshing escape into the heart of nature? Northern California boasts some of the most breathtaking waterfalls that offer not only scenic beauty but also the opportunity to take a rejuvenating swim. Whether you’re an avid hiker, a nature enthusiast, or simply someone looking for a serene spot to cool off during the hot summer months, these best Northern California waterfalls have something special to offer. Let’s dive into the mesmerizing world of waterfall swimming.

McArthur-Burney Falls: A Cascade of Beauty

Located within McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park, McArthur-Burney Falls stands as a testament to nature’s artistry. The waterfall, fed by underground springs, cascades down a fern-covered rock face, creating a stunning backdrop for swimmers. The chilly waters are a perfect antidote to the heat, making it an ideal spot for a refreshing dip.

Feather Falls: The Majestic Cascades

Tucked away in Plumas National Forest, Feather Falls is one of Northern California’s most spectacular waterfalls. The trail leading to the falls offers hikers a chance to immerse themselves in the wilderness before reaching the awe-inspiring sight. The cool, clear pool at the base invites you to take a leisurely swim while being surrounded by the sounds of nature.

Burney Falls: Nature’s Waterslide

Often referred to as the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” Burney Falls is a masterpiece of nature. The waterfall descends from a height of 129 feet, creating a misty oasis below. The inviting turquoise waters beckon swimmers, who can revel in the beauty and tranquility that this place offers.

Alamere Falls: Where the Ocean Meets the Falls

Alamere Falls presents a unique blend of terrestrial and marine beauty. This waterfall tumbles down a cliff onto the sandy shores of the Pacific Ocean. The journey to the falls involves a scenic hike through Point Reyes National Seashore, rewarding adventurers with a chance to swim where fresh and saltwater meet.

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Potem Falls: A Hidden Gem

Nestled in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, Potem Falls is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. The short hike to the falls is shaded by towering trees, providing a cool escape from the sun. The waterfall cascades into a serene pool, inviting swimmers to take a dip in its tranquil waters.

Whiskeytown Falls: The Oasis of Whiskeytown

Whiskeytown Falls offers an oasis of serenity within the Whiskeytown National Recreation Area. The hike to the falls is a journey through lush foliage, culminating in the sight of a multi-tiered waterfall. The refreshing pool at the base is an inviting spot for a leisurely swim, allowing you to connect with nature in a profound way.

Horsetail Falls: A Vertical Paradise

Horsetail Falls is a breathtaking spectacle that plunges down a granite cliff, creating an ethereal atmosphere. The water curtains over the rock face create a surreal ambiance, perfect for those seeking a unique swimming experience. The surrounding scenery adds to the grandeur of this natural wonder.

Crystal Falls: Unveiling Nature’s Splendor

Tucked away in the Eldorado National Forest, Crystal Falls is a tranquil retreat for nature lovers. The waterfall flows gracefully into a clear pool, offering swimmers a chance to bask in the beauty of their surroundings. The serene ambiance and pristine waters make it a perfect spot for relaxation.

Mossbrae Falls: The Enchanting Veil

Mossbrae Falls is a hidden treasure accessible via a scenic hike near Dunsmuir. The waterfall’s unique appearance, with water gently flowing over a moss-covered wall, gives it an enchanting quality. The pool beneath provides a soothing place to swim while being surrounded by the magic of moss and water.


Best Northern California waterfalls offer a unique blend of natural beauty and recreational opportunities. From the majestic Feather Falls to the enchanting Mossbrae Falls, each waterfall presents a distinct experience for those seeking an escape into nature. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a casual adventurer, these waterfalls provide a refreshing sanctuary that rejuvenates both body and soul.


Can you swim in all of these waterfalls?

Yes, most of these waterfalls have designated swimming areas or pools at their base where you can enjoy a swim.

Are these waterfalls safe for families with children?

While many of these waterfalls are family-friendly, it’s essential to prioritize safety. Always supervise children closely and adhere to any posted guidelines.

What is the best time to visit these waterfalls?

Spring and early summer are generally the best times to visit, as the water flow is robust, and the weather is pleasant for outdoor activities.

Is the trail to Alamere Falls challenging?

Yes, the trail to Alamere Falls involves some moderate hiking and can be challenging in parts. Wear appropriate footwear and be prepared with essentials.

Are these waterfalls easily accessible by car?

Most of these waterfalls have designated parking areas or trailheads where you can park your car before embarking on a hike to reach the falls.