Feather Falls: Sixth Largest Waterfall and Home of Lady Bug Migrations

When I hiked Feather Falls, I wondered how tall the fall actually was and how it ranked in comparison to the tallest waterfalls in the Continental United States.

It turns out that Feather Falls is 410 feet tall and the sixth tallest waterfall in the Continental United States. Although there is some controversy regarding the tallest waterfall in the Continental U.S., it is generally accepted that Yosemite Falls takes the cake. This waterfall compares to Feather Falls with an incredible 2,425 foot plummet. Feather Falls may be tall, but if it is compared to waterfalls in the entire United States (Hawaii included), it does not even make it in the top ten.

What to Expect When Hiking Feather Falls

The trail is around 9.7 miles round trip. I would recommend setting out in the morning, as it is a popular location to hike. The trail branches into a “Y” early on providing two options for hiking to the falls. They end up creating a loop which brings you back to where you started.

I would recommend taking the longer portion of the trail first which is 4.5 miles and then hiking back from the falls via the shorter trail which is 3.5 miles. This is an easier route to take as 7 miles of the hike are downhill.

Since this is a popular hike, I would recommend getting to the falls early in the morning. Please remember it is a forested area near bodies of water, which means bugs! Make sure and pack insect spray and water for this hike.

Can I Bring Pets and Children to Feather Falls?

Yes! Animals are allowed on the trail as long as they are on a leash. As for children, the hike is family friendly up to the falls observatory point.

There is another trail which branches off from the main trail which is not recommended for children. This trail leads up to the top of the falls where there are a collection of swimming pools as well as a view. This area, however, is steep and the rocks are slick with water from the falls. In the past, people have died in this location.

Who Were the Original Inhabitants of Feather Falls?

According to both scientific and scholar research, the Maidu tribe have occupied the Oroville and Butte, California area since 1200 B.C.

The Maidu were a hunter-gatherer tribe. Throughout the hike, there are Point of Interest Plaques offering information regarding the original settlers. One of the portions I found most interesting in this regard was the mortar and pestles formed in giant boulders along the trail.

Lady Bugs Migrate in Great Numbers to Feather Falls

This was one of the most surprising and beautiful aspects of the hike for me. It turns out Lady Bugs migrate to Frey Creek during the winter months. Thousands of ladybugs covered the trees and brush staining most of the area with a beautiful, moving rust. Crossing the bridge over Frey Creek was wonderful because ladybugs flew around creating a magical ambiance.

Want to Learn More About the Maidu and Their Heritage?

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