Often billed as the most beautiful waterfall in California, even by regular visitors to Yosemite, MacArthur-Burney Falls (Hwy. 89, 6 miles north of Hwy. 299, 530/335-2777, www.parks.ca.gov ) draws the young and old alike. Unlike many California waterfalls, Burney Falls (as it’s known to its friends) flows strong and true all year long and is just as beautiful in September as it is in April.
The best news of all, you don’t have to hike to reach the falls; they’re right there as soon as you hit the parking lot. Still, it’s more than worth your time to get out of your car and take a walk around the wide sheets of water that are almost reminiscent of Niagara in miniature. It’s only a quick walk to the pool at the base of the falls. For the best set of views, take the one-mile-and-change hike around the 129-foot waterfall. The trails are well developed, with nice flat surfaces and low stone walls.
So how do the falls manage to keep falling all year long? Much of the water feeding Burney Creek bubbles up from springs created during periods of local volcanic activity. The creek grows wide and then cascades down to the perennially misty green-blue pool. You’ll love that mist more than anything if you’re visiting in the height of summer. It gets very hot here, but please don’t try to swim beneath the falls. The force and currents can be quite dangerous.