Throughout Butte County, a wide array of feathered friends, mammals, reptiles, insects, and fish are full-time residents, making it an ideal California Watchable Wildlife (CAWW) destination.
Discover red-tailed hawks, Swainson’s hawks, falcons, river otters, owls, Mexican free-tailed bats—and too many more animals to list—at Butte County’s urban parks, neighborhoods, and rivers. With its myriad of lakes, seasonal wetlands, vernal pools, and creeks, Butte County also welcomes millions of migratory birds each fall and winter as a major player on the Pacific Flyway. Each year, winged visitors make their way to flooded rice fields, nature preserves, parks and refuges where you can watch breathtaking fly-ins and showstopping fly-outs of ducks, sandhill cranes, Canada geese, snow geese and tundra swans (and more!).
Whether you walk, paddle, hike, or observe from your car, it’s easy to get up close and personal with nature in and around Butte County all year long (just look for the binocular signs). Discover more about a few of Butte County’s official California Watchable Wildlife locations and check CAWW as more locations are added:
Photo Contest: California Watchable Wildlife administers the annual California Wildlife Photo of the Year Contest. Photos can be present or past, but must have been taken in California, including the wilds of Butte County. The contest has five submission entry periods, beginning in January 1, 2021 and ending October 31, 2021. The final judging period, November – December, is reserved for selecting the Photo of the Year. Learn more about this annual contest at California Watchable Wildlife and submit your photos for your chance to win!
FALL FOLIAGE IN CALIFORNIA: Places to Go, Colors to See
by Barbara L. Steinberg
Summer’s golden, sun-filled hours have shortened and the evening air is turning crisp and cool, Mother Nature takes her cue to begin a spectacular and colorful show of fall foliage in the Golden State. Autumn’s palette of deep reds, glowing yellows and warm, earthy browns may be enjoyed in many of California’s regions. Visitors taking a relaxing drive, hike or bicycle ride through the scenic countryside will be instantly immersed in the season’s breathtaking beauty.
Click here for some of the more popular places to view the best California fall colors.
The Rest of the Story....
Tags: #AwesomeAutumn, alpine, autumn, autumn, autumn leaves, big bear, Big Bear Lake, bishop, Bishop, Calaveras, California, color, county, Creek Canyon, Fall, fall color, fall foliage, fall leaves, foliage, Grover, hot springs, lake, mammoth, Mammoth Lakes, mountain, national park, photograph, photography, Plumas, Shasta cascade, Sierra, Sierra Nevada, Sonoma, state park, Yosemite
The adjectives: awe-inspiring; breathtaking; spectacular; mesmerizing. The verbs: plunging; plummeting; crashing. The metaphors: like a thundering curtain or the roar of a hurricane; or like the sound of bells or murmuring voices.
Waterfalls. They are mystical and magical. Their size and strength are often times terrifying; their beauty: tranquilizing and hypnotic. Who hasn't dreamed of showering in their chilling spray or swimming in an emerald pool; or longed to track the water's ancient origins in search of a quiet resting place? In California, there are memorable waterfalls to match any you have imagined.
Abundant winter rains and a melting snow pack have California waterfalls exploding with water. Springtime is generally the best time to view these natural wonders as many falls dry-up in the summer heat due to decreased water flows. But during the right winters, waterfalls come crashing back to life. The Native Americans called them "laughing waters." This year, California waterfalls are giggling, chortling, screaming, and lifting their voices in tumultuous laughter.
In Siskiyou County McCloud Falls (upper, middle and lower) are 5.9 miles east of the town of McCloud and can be reached by following the signs to the Shasta-Trinity National Forest Fowlers Campground located on the Uppler McCloud River. The three falls are within two miles of each other and Upper McCloud Falls is accessible by car. There is fishing and a natural swimming hole on Hwy. 89. Near Mount Shasta city, Ney Springs Canyon Trail and Faery Falls are easily accessed. The 1.5-mile round-trip hike to Faery Falls passes through the 19th-century ruins of Ney Springs Resort. Located near Dunsmuir are Hedge Creek Falls and Mossbrae Falls. Hedge Creek is well marked and has a picnic area near the base of the falls. The trail leads visitors beneath the falls and, a short distance away, to views of the Sacramento River. Mossbrae is fed by melting water from the glaciers on Mount Shasta. Considered one of the most scenic waterfalls in California, hiking to the falls is trespassing with fines as much as $300.
Burney Falls, once called "the eighth wonder of the world" by Teddy Roosevelt, is fed by spring flows of 200 million gallons daily. Much of the water from these underground streams actually spouts from the rock. The divided falls rumble down a 129-foot cliff into an emerald pool before flowing into Lake Britton. Trails that almost anyone can manage lead down to the pool on both sides. For the best view, hike the 1/2-mile trail that traverses the hillside. You can cross the top of the falls most of the year, but waters run heaviest in the Spring. McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park is located mid-way between Lassen National Volcanic Park and Mt. Shasta.
Approximately 41 miles east of Redding, Potem Creek Falls empties into the Pit River. A gentle, winding trail makes the falls accessible to hikers.
Located 25 miles east of Oroville in Butte County, the Feather Falls National Recreation Trail will lead you to 640-feet high Feather Falls. The trail, located within the 15,000-acre Feather Falls Scenic Area, winds through the foothills 3.8 miles to Feather Falls. Water flows at Feather Falls are heaviest during the spring months.
Yosemite Falls, the tallest falls in North America (and fifth tallest in the world), drops 2,425 feet to the valley floor. The Upper Fall plunges 1,430, feet, connecting with the 320-foot Lower Fall by a 675-foot cascade. Follow a 3.6-mile trail, which includes a 270-foot gain in elevation, to reach the top of Yosemite Falls. Start at Lower Yosemite Falls for a 1/2- day hike with excellent views of Half Dome. The best views are about two thirds of the way up, so don't feel as if you're missing out if you don't make it to the top. Impressive views of the falls are seen on the path to the base.
The Merced River flows from the snow fields in the Sierra Nevada, spills over the 594-foot Nevada Falls and then plummets another 317 feet over Vernal Falls. Known as The Mist Trail, the hike starts uphill through the mist sprayed by Vernal Falls. When the light is right, hikers are rewarded with rainbows in the mist of Vernal Falls. The climb to the top of Nevada Falls is difficult; the last 900 feet of elevation gain are up steep polished granite. The half-day round-trip up the falls is 3.4 miles one way.
Yosemite Indians called the 620-foot Bridalveil Fall, Pohono, or "spirit of the puffing winds." Strong winds often lift the thundering water and blow it sideways. Bridalveil is visible from the road, but an easy 10-minute walk will take you to its foaming base.
On a strenuous 9-1/2 mile walk from the Tuolumne Meadows area, you can view the exuberant Tuolumne Falls. Other falls such as the spectacular Waterwheel Falls, are a short distance beyond, near Glen Aulin Camp in the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne.
Other lesser known falls include: Cascade Falls, Chilnualna Cascades, Wapama and Tueeulala Falls. After the winter snow melt, Yosemite is easily accessible by Hwy. 120 and 140 from the west and Hwy. 120 from the east (Mono Lake Area).
Just five miles from the south entrance to Yosemite, along the 3.7-mile Lewis Creek Recreational Trail, lies a hidden treasure -- Corlieu Falls. The trail follows the route of the historical Madera Sugar Pine lumber flume past the 80-foot waterfall, and the smaller Red Rock Falls. With no signs to publicize their existence, Corlieu Falls can be enjoyed in a kind of quiet solitude not possible at some of the better known falls. For additional information, contact: Yosemite Experience.
On the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada is Rainbow Falls, located in the Inyo National Forest south of Devils Postpile National Monument. Along a 1.3-mile trail the San Joaquin River plunges 101 feet over volcanic rock into a box canyon. Multi-colored rainbows are clearly visible in the mist of the mighty falls. Devils Postpile is a brief walk from parking lots and shuttle stops. The trail to Rainbow Falls is a short 1-1/4-mile hike from Devils Postpile.
Drive around the Mammoth Lakes Basin -- Lake Mary, Twin Lakes, Mamie, George and Horseshoe (there is no Mammoth Lake). Spilling down from Lake Mamie west of the town of Mammoth Lakes is Twin Falls, which cascades 300-feet along a granite bed into Twin Lakes. It can be viewed from the overview at Twin Lakes. For additional information, contact: Visit Mammoth.
The diminutive Indian Falls in the Plumas National Forest is just 20 feet high, but creates a dramatic affect falling on Indian Creek. Large sun-bathed rocks, swimming holes, and sandy shores beckon. The 0.5-mile round-trip hike is easy but can be icy in winter months. Well-placed interpretive panels provide insight into the lives of the Maidu tribes who inhabited the region. Ten miles west of Quincy, the falls are two miles north of the intersection of Highways 70 and 89.
The Bay Area has been blessed with a number of beautiful water falls. At a height of 70 feet, Berry Creek Falls in Big Basin Redwoods State Park, may be the Bay Area's most impressive waterfall. A fairly comfortable hike, take the Skyline to the Sea Trail to the falls and back for an 8-mile round-trip.
Twenty-five miles from Foresthill in Placer County is Grouse Falls, one of California's most scenic waterfalls. Cascading down several hundred feet, the falls are hidden at the head of an isolated box canyon. The falls were largely inaccessible until 1992, when a trail constructed to a deck perched along the canyon wall allowed the falls to be seen. The trail is an easy, 1/3-mile walk. The best time for viewing the falls is in the spring when water flows are high.
Truly an oasis in the desert is Darwin Falls, with its sparkling stream and year-round 30-foot cascading waterfalls. Just off Hwy. 190, leading into Death Valley National Park it's an easy half-mile hike to lower Darwin Falls. Another short hike ends at the rushing waters of the upper falls. In sharp contrast to this water wonderland is Fossil Falls, located 45-minutes north of Ridgecrest. The trail is a short 1-1/2 mile, round-trip hike and leads to a sculptured and polished 40-foot dry waterfall. Black lava cliffs were smoothed and shaped over thousands of years by the now-dry Owens River. The graded dirt access road to Fossil Falls is accessible with a two-wheel drive vehicle.
Tags: California, Darwin, Death Valley, Dunsmuir, fall, falls, Feather River, Fossil, Hetch Hetchy, Mammoth Lakes, Merced, National Park, National Park, Native American, Oroville, Owens River, Plumas, Quincy, Rainbow, Ridgecrest, Shasta Cascade, Sierra Nevada, Tuolumne, waterfall, waterfalls, Yosemite
Snow is falling down,
Covering all the ground.
It covers the earth like
a tiny white mouse,
roof and house.
Do you like snow
in the face?
Sure, I like it anyplace.
January 30, 1966
A short story: People often ask me how I came to be a writer. The fact is, I've been writing my entire life. Mostly poetry when I was younger, but also journals. Keeping every little piece of lined notebook paper and pencil- and pen-written to paper napkins and place mats from restaurants where I often spent time writing. My Tin Box of Poetry & Prose which contains so many things from my childhood and teen years, is witness to this truth. This prized possession from 1966 - 4th grade at Little Run Elementary, Fairfax, Virginia - clearly speaks to my love of snow and the photo taken in the Eastern Sierra circa 2006, 40 years later. Either my mother or I - or both - believed this early attempt at rhyme was something to be saved. So very glad!
Another day of isolation and lock-down during Covid-19, Hardly! We have been so blessed to live in rural Butte County. Close to back roads and beautiful escapes. Heading north from Chico on Highway 32, we are quickly above the valley floor surrounded by forests. Some burn areas are being logged, but in other places we look out into deep canyons and over tree-lined ridge tops. More than once we pull over to allow others to pass. They are driving at breakneck speeds to get - well, to get somewhere. We are in no hurry and happy to be a speck in their rearview mirrors.
Locating the perfect stream-side picnic spot requires diligence. And, in these days of social distancing, passing more than one possibility because others beat us to the finish line.
Perseverance pays off and we find our oasis in Tehama County's Lassen National Forest. The U.S. Forest Service's Elam Campground is gated and all amenities are locked. Other vehicles parked outside and occupants proceeded onto trails. We parked in a roadside lot and followed a short trail outside of the campground to our alfresco lunch spot along Elam Creek.
Flashes of black as Raven swooping above and beyond greets us graciously - the welcome mat is out! The gentle flow of water riffling just above our vantage point. A giant bumblebee falls headfirst into our basket exploring the contents. Perhaps the smell of fresh apple and pistachio butter was too much to resist. We delight in the butterflies dancing on the sand and a breeze so delicious and sweet imagining the bumblebee was tasting that too.
Feet at rest on a river rock ottoman. The heart and rhythm of the planet beating around us. Wild lilacs. Forget-me-nots. Surely, we won't.
Mountain biking is big business. Fun business! In Plumas County, it’s really big and fun. So much so, that they have six amazing biking events. For the brave among you, the annual Lost and Found bike ride tests your cowabunga downhill dudeness! Canceled in 2020 due to the Coronavirus, hopes are the race will be bigger and better in 2021. In addition, there are four “century” rides throughout the county with picturesque, mountain and lake views accessible to all skill levels. Trails beginning at the base of Indian Valley take advanced riders to mountain ridges overlooking the valley. A free Plumas Mountain Biking Trail Guide, available at visitor centers and online, details rides in eastern and central Plumas County and the Lake Almanor Basin. If mountain biking isn’t your obsession, downshift and bike Plumas County backcountry roads – they’re traffic- and stress-free.
Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship has been instrumental in developing trails throughout Plumas and Sierra counties. In 2011, they developed the Mills Peak Trail and, later, completed work on the Mt. Hough/South Park trail system near Quincy. Their proposal for a new trail system, the Beckwourth Peak Recreation Project, was approved in 2019.
Evening on the Yuba
They flit and float
In gathering darkness
Their bodies quiver.
They kiss the water
In an elusive dance.
And we watch the bats boogie
Above the river.
Barbara L. Steinberg
June 2, 2004
Soda Springs, CA
I'd like to provide three important updates from the Mono Lake Committee.
First, we are doing our part to flatten the curve and following all state and local orders. We have suspended our public programs, closed the Information Center & Bookstore, and canceled our field education programs through April.
Second, I am proud to say that thanks to strong member support we are keeping all of our staff employed at this challenging time. We are all working from home, learning new tools for digital connectivity, and continuing the essential work of the Committee. For example, water exports are underway today in the Los Angeles Aqueduct and we know you count on us to make sure that the export rules are followed so that Mono Lake and its tributary streams stay protected.
Lastly, we are making extra efforts to share Mono Lake, the arriving birds, springtime flowers, and scenic views with all of you. We are fortunate to be sheltering in this remarkable place where the ancient rhythms of life continue in plain sight. When Committee staff are safely and appropriately outside, we will capture experiences to share with you through a new series of online Mono Lake Moments. A snowy boardwalk visit is already available with new live and recorded events happening every Wednesday and Friday at 2:00pm PDT.
This crisis is urgent. This is a time to support each other and nurture our communities. It challenges us to come together and sheds new light on our core values—indeed they are more meaningful than ever. Stay well, and thank you for your continued support.
The window between autumn and winter is quickly closing. Only yesterday it was summer. Winds are lifting the treetops and sweeping diamond lights across the lake. Birds reclaim homesteads, crying raucous above the silence.
Human sounds have retreated replaced by the sounds of creaking pine limbs and bird voices. The lake laps at the shoreline. Boats sit empty longing for the return of spring. A doe, with liquid black eyes, moves past without a sound and nibbles fading willow and grasses.
Dry pine needles rain down.
Snow flies soon.
Barbara L. Steinberg
September 16, 2013
Packer Lake Lodge