640 feet straight down. Beautiful but deadly!

Hi and welcome to my web site. I love Feather Falls and you will too if you ever hike to this wonderful place. A decade ago I wrote a newspaper article on this beautiful falls and it inspired this web page. The following sections help explain why Feather Falls is such a great place to hike to. You will also find a section that illustrates the dangers of Feather Falls. NOTE: The latest casualty at the falls was just on April 21, 2012!

I have also included some great pictures from various hikes to the Falls between 1985 to March 22, 2008. I hope you enjoy this web page almost as much as you would when actually hiking to the Falls.

In 2007 I had a conversation with reporter, David Watts Barton of the Sacramento Bee. He wrote a wonderful article on Feather Falls on March 22, 2007 called, "A Feather In Your Hiking Cap". The article included comments about this web site and a few quotes from me. Thanks for the great article David!

However, we had a difference of opinion about where Feather Falls ranked in height. I always felt that it was second in height behind Yosemite Falls. Well, it turns out he was RIGHT and I was WRONG. The three highest falls in California are all located in Yosemite National Park: Yosemite Falls (2,425 feet), Ribbon Falls (1,612 feet) and Silver Strand Falls (1,170 feet).

So, Feather Falls is the FOURTH highest falls in California.

HOWEVER, after having seen all of these other falls, I still feel that Feather Falls' combination of height, high volume of water year around, and beauty, puts it right behind Yosemite Falls in its ability to amaze!

Come try the hike sometime! You won't be disappointed!

Larry R. Matthews

At the trail split. March 22, 2008.

The 100 Year old oak tree that greets you as you pass beneath it at the beginning of your hike.











Alan Matthews, Joanne Calhoun, Sharon Matthews and me - Half way to the Falls on June 25, 1994.

Me rescuing my son, Alan, from being swept over the Falls! Actually, we were quite a ways up stream when this was taken on June 25, 1994.

Justin, Mark, Forrest Hartman, Derek Moore, Sharon and me at Frey Creek Bridge (3.3 mile trail). One mile into the hike - April 15, 2000. (At that time Forrest was the Entertainment Editor for the Appeal-Democrat newspaper. He now works for a newspaper in Reno, Nevada. At that time Derek worked for KWOD FM radio in Sacramento. He now works for THE EAGLE FM in Sacramento. A radio DJ legend!)

Derek Moore - Just a little too close to the slippery lip of the falls. April 15, 2000.

Sharon Matthews and Scott Roberts near the Falls Overlook. April 15, 2000. (Scott, then and now, is a big cheese at the Media Center at Butte College.)

Judy Brown and Scott Roberts on the Falls Overlook. April 28, 2001. (She's now known as Judy Brown-Roberts as she finally gave in and married the guy!)

Here I am with Scott on the Falls Overlook. April 28,2001.

Bald Rock, an impressive sight on the way to the Falls. May 1, 2004.

At the Frey Creek Bridge (3.3 mile trail) with Sharon, Scott and Judy, March 22, 2008.

The somewhat overcrowded top of the Falls, March 22, 2008.

The house-sized boulders at the bottom of the falls, March 22, 2008.

Sharon on the Frey Creek Bridge (4.5 mile trail), March 22, 2008.

Resting the feet after 6 miles. March 22, 2008.


The purpose of this web site is to familiarize you with the magnificence of this wonderful, natural waterfall. However, along with the majesty of it's beauty, there is also a mortal danger. I am including the following article in order to warn those prospective hikers to be very careful in this area. Tragically, there have been at least two additional fatalities since the following event occurred:

"OROVILLE MERCURY REGISTER - October 23, 1967 - Article by Bob Edken: Randall Frederick Meyer, an 11 year old Oroville youngster on a hike to qualify for a Boy Scout rating, was killed Saturday afternoon when he was swept over the brink of Feather Falls and fell 640 feet into the Middle Fork Canyon. The victim was with eight other members of a pre-scout group of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on a five mile hike into the famed scenic area to qualify as a Scout "tender foot".

According to Coroner's Deputies, the group had hiked into the falls and were having lunch at 1 P.M. at the observation point. The youngsters had climbed to an observation point above the cascade. Witnesses said young Meyer attempted to jump onto a rock in the Fall River, which feeds the falls, but slipped and fell into the stream. They said the boy was swept over an eight foot cascade into a pool of turbulent water and then was carried over the 640 foot falls and fell to the bottom.

The supervisor who accompanied the group climbed down the almost sheer canyon walls to the bottom of the falls, where he pulled the youngster's body out of the water.

Explorer Troup 127, the Oroville contingent of the Butte County Search and Rescue Unit, was alerted to the accident at 4:30 P.M. and began hiking into the base of the falls. The group of four scouts and three adults, led by Harold Goff and Bill Vaughn were joined by Cliff Burrieck and Harley Sykes of Feather Falls. They hiked down the Frey Creek Canyon and then went upstream through the Middle Fork Canyon, climbing over house sized boulders to make their way. Darkness overtook the group before they reached the falls and they camped overnight in the canyon. Another search and rescue group, led by Lieutenant Robert Thorne, departed for the falls at 4:30 A.M. Sunday.

The Explorer Scouts reached the Falls Sunday morning and started back with the youngster's body. They rendezvoused with the second group midway between the Falls and Frey Creek. It was not until 4:30 P.M. Sunday that the rescue party returned to the Logging Community of Feather Falls, at the head of the trail. Also aiding the rescue unit were Jack Hatfield, Buck Dowden and Eugene Fields, all of Feather Falls.

The youngster was the second person known to have been swept over the falls. A high school girl died in a similar accident nine years ago (1958)."

The Feather Falls Overlook. Taken from the lip of the falls. August 9, 1985.


History has chronicled that the first non-American Indian to view the Falls was Alonzo Delano, who found the canyon while searching for gold in 1849. He was warned by the Indians that an angry, noisy monster (The U-I-NO MONSTER) lived in a chasm in the forest, but no member of the tribe would serve as a guide. Delano stumbled into the falls and was the first non-indian to gaze into the deep canyon that is filled the year around with a white spray and a myriad of rainbows. The history of the falls is rather sparse, probably because of the mystery the area held for the Indians. But the area offers an unmatched experience to those modern day adventurers who want to step back into history. The Falls is the sixth highest in the United States.

The Feather River was named, apparently, because one of the Spanish explorers saw bird feathers floating in the stream. But, why is Feather Falls named Feather Falls? Even though it falls into the Feather River it is not on the Feather River. It is on Fall River. My explanation of why it is called Feather Falls is the most obvious. Look at the photo at the top of this page - IT IS SHAPED EXACTLY LIKE A FEATHER!


One of the more bizarre tree sights on Feather Falls Trail - April 28, 2001.

From Highway 70 at Oroville, take the Oro Dam Blvd exit toward the East. Follow Oro Dam for a mile or so and then make a right on Olive Highway and go about 6 miles to the Forbestown/Feather Falls sign that goes to the right. Go about another 6 miles and make a left on Lumpkin Road (the sign appears on the right on a curve just before you come to Lumpkin Road on your left). Go another 10 miles (road changes from a wide two lane road to a narrow winding road after you get across the Enterprise Bridge) and look for the sign to the Feather Falls Trail Head on the left. Don't worry, if you miss the road you will find yourself coming up to the Feather Falls School in less than a mile. Just turn around and head back and "look sharp" for the sign. After turning off of Lumpkin Road the trail head is about 1.5 miles down the narrow, paved, washboard road. At the trail head you will find a nice parking lot. And YES! - There ARE restrooms!

The parking lot - late afternoon on March 22, 2008.

The drive from Oroville takes less than an hour and the hike itself takes about 6 hours round trip. (Unless you take your time like we do!)

My recommendation to anyone considering this great hike is to take a lunch, bring a canteen of water and get an early start. An early start is especially recommended in the hot summer as you will feel like a damp sponge even on the new trail.

I would also strongly recommend that you take and use mosquito repellant, especially if you are taking the old 3.3 mile shorter trail. Along about half way into that trail there is always a mass of mosquitos waiting to suck you dry. So be forewarned!

Be very aware that there are rattlesnakes in the area and we ran across one on our trek to the Falls on May 1, 2004. However, also keep in mind that in hiking the Sierra Nevada for over 40 years, this was the first and only time I have ever run across a rattlesnake! Just lucky I guess. To say the least, the encounter was very memorable and, fortunately, nobody was bitten.

My thanks to TJ Rearick who took the above photo of a "rattler" on Feather Falls trail during his hike on April 18, 2008.

Keep in mind that the hike starts from one point at the parking lot but when you get into the trail about 1/4 of a mile the trail splits. The trail to the left is the old trail and goes 3.3 miles. The trail to the right is the new trail and is 4.5 miles long. The difference is that the longer trail is flatter and easier in spite of its length. I recommend that you go in the left, older trail and go out the newer trail. That plan will help you avoid the last, dreaded mile of switchbacks uphill from Frey Creek to the parking lot trail head on the old trail. You will thank me if you hike the way I recommend.

If you intend to bicycle in, I recommend you go in and out the newer 4.5 mile trail. It should save wear and tear on your butt. Also, they don't allow motorcycles, so keep your Kawasaki at home.

As for taking "Rover" along with you; Dogs are allowed on the trail as long as they are on a leash. Keep them reigned in close. You don't want them disturbing snakes or skunks - you will definately regret it if they do!

Larry Gilliam and myself. Near the lip of the falls on May 24, 1998.

Most importantly, please be careful. There have been 4 or 5 fatal accidents at the falls since 1950. Jason Lee from Yuba City was killed there when he fell into the canyon in February 1995.

Also, you may have probably read the above article on Randall Meyer. He was a friend of mine who was killed at the falls in 1967. There is absolutely NO RECOVERY from the 640 foot fall into the canyon. Don't tempt fate! On our last hike to Feather Falls on March 22, 2008 we saw several people getting WAY too close to the slippery edge. One stupid slip and you are gone!

What was this guy thinking?! (March 22, 2008)

FINALLY: Feather Falls trail is very unspoiled. There is very little trash! Please pack out what you have packed in and don't leave any litter!

5. MY HIKING HISTORY (and other unimportant junk)

I am a transplanted Southern Californian, having moved up from Los Angeles in 1963 to Butte County. Over the years I have lived in Oroville, Chico, Marysville, and I presently live in Yuba City.

I made my first Feather Falls hike in 1965 and loved it. I still love it! I have made many trips to the falls and never tire of it. (Although the hike DOES make me tired!)

I love the outdoors and would rather be hiking than most anything else. (Almost). However, my body is rebelling due to my hikes to:

1. Yosemite Falls (once)

2. Muir Woods (3 times)

3. Feather Falls Hike Dates:

1. 06-01-65

2. 05-09-78

3. 07-29-85

4. 06-25-94

5. 04-29-95

6. 04-19-97

7. 05-24-98

8. 04-15-00

9. 04-28-01

10. 05-01-04

11. 03-22-08

4. Burney Falls (3 times)

5. Mount Lassen (twice to the summit. First time was on September 9, 1995) I did it last on October 7, 2000. It is the second most demanding hike I have been on. CHECK OUT MY "MOUNT LASSEN" WEB SITE. CLICK ON "LARRY'S WEB SITES" TO GET THERE.

6. Beale Falls(once)

7. The short but beautiful 3.5 mile round trip from Bridgeport Covered Bridge to Engelbright Lake (twice). CHECK OUT MY COVERED BRIDGE WEB SITE. CLICK ON "LARRY'S WEB SITES" TO GET THERE.

8. My many hikes up the side of Table Mountain and across the mesa (probably 12 times). CHECK OUT MY TABLE MOUNTAIN WEB SITE. CLICK ON "LARRY'S WEB SITES" TO GET THERE.

9. The two mile "up and down" hike to the edge of Crater Lake, Oregon. (Beautiful and when you're there take the 2 hour boat trip around the lake). (once).

10. The various hikes inside "Craters of the Moon" park in Southern Idaho. Fabulous caves and lava formations (once).

11. The great 5.5 mile (round trip) hike into the Loch Leven Lakes in the Tahoe National Forest. Did this one on 5-19-01. Beautiful lakes surrounded by mammoth granite rock!

12. The great, and rugged hike up the Black Butte volcano in 2003.(once)

13. The 9 mile Panorama Trail from Glacier Point past Ilillouette Falls, Nevada Falls and Vernal Falls in Yosemite National Park on May 30, 2004.

That 3.5 mile hike up Upper Yosemite Falls was the most challenging, but what an accomplishment! 3.5 miles in 3.5 hours means you are plodding along at 1 mile per hour virtually straight up! I don't plan to do that one again!

I guess being aged in the late 50's is the beginning of old age and my feet are starting to feel it. However, I doubt seriously that age can ever stop me from "Hitting the Trail!" (even in a walker!) See you on the dirt path!

My wife Sharon on the Feather Falls Overlook on April 29, 1995. The largest volume of water I have ever seen come over the falls.


The way I like to remember Feather Falls Village. The red, the snow, the green and the beauty of the mountains! The photo includes my son Alan, and my mother Ora, on January 9, 1982. The then-standing Georgia-Pacific Office and Town Hall are in the background. This is all gone. (Dig that '74 Vega!)

I have established a new website dedicated to FEATHER FALLS VILLAGE. You can access that site at:


A nice view along the trail. March 22, 2008.


An airplane's view of the falls.

Here are some very nice e-mails I have received. Maybe this web site does some good after all!

(June 14, 2006) - Larry,

I was wandering around on the internet a few weeks ago and I came across your Feather Falls website. Having family in the Chico area, I have been through Oroville many times, but only knew Feather Falls as the Indian Casino in the area.

Liking what I saw, I decided to take the trip to the "real" Feather Falls. This past Saturday, my Father, a good friend and I took the drive up to Oroville and on to the falls parking area. And by the way, your directions were great.

We heeded your advice and at the trail head marker, we made a left and took the shorter route to the falls. No rattle snakes, but we did see a garter snake on a fallen tree that I decided to use as a shortcut. I pushed him off with my hiking pole and went on my way. I decided after that it would be best to skip the shortcuts.

We arrived at the Falls and were amazed at its awesome power. After a short break and a few snapshots, we were on our way back. We took the longer trail on the way back. Much easier on the feet. But no matter, I could barely get out of bed the next morning. It was more than worth it though.

Thanks for your many great webpages. Probably wouldn't have ever been there if it wasn't for you.

Many a safe hike for you and thanks again!

Michael Sinor, Stockton, California

(October 17, 2007) - Larry,

Feather Falls was the most extraordinary, breathtaking force of nature I have ever seen in my entire life. The waterfall was mesmerizing, but the hike along was amazing in itself. There were so many hidden treasures along the way. I've been a lot of places and this was truly a very unique experience.

I'm new to the area and had no idea the beauty that lied only 100 miles from here in South Sac. I thank God that he lead me to your web site. if it weren't for you I probably would have never gotten the chance to experience such a magnificent place. Thanks again Larry. Happy Hiking!!!

Much Love,

Sara G

(May 26, 2008) - Larry,

The hike was awe-inspiring. Not only the falls. Frey creek is magnificent on its own. The plant life along the hike is so diverse and lush and at one point, I took off down the creek (on the 3.5 side) to get a better shot of the bridge and creek and the masses of ladybugs blew my mind!

At the overlook, after a few pictures, I told the story of the boy scout and everyone had goose bumps invisioning the scout master descending those sheer walls to find the boy...

Thanks again. Having the opportunity to get some extra information and history provided in such a comfortable and humerous way, added a whole other layer to the trip. I very much appreciate your time and effort in your website!

Jon and Janell Steele and family, Redding, California

(October 29, 2008) - Larry,

I don't know if you remember me or not, but I wrote you several times about your wonderful website. I lived in Feather Falls for many years, and I moved to Tennessee for some time with my husband and kids. I was looking at your site again and you have added so much more to it, I just love it. Of course, it always makes me a little homesick when I read about your trips into the falls..and your pictures are just wonderful.

Vickie Miller, Virginia Beach, Virginia

(February 10, 2011) - Larry,

A friend told me about your website and I am so glad I checked it out. I have lived in Yuba City since 1966 and have heard of the Feather Falls hike many times. I have often wished I could experience the hike but it is farther than I would be able to hike.

Thank you for your beautiful website, it has allowed me to enjoy the beauty of this unique waterfall and the beautiful trail leading to the falls.

Thank you, Lorine Lauck, Yuba City, California


This is the way I always look (collapsed and pitiful) at the end of each Feather Falls Hike - one fourth of a mile from the end of the trail. Taken at the trail split on May 1, 2004.

So, in spite of the physical agony of some of the hikes I have taken to Feather Falls, why do I keep going? There are many reasons, but the MAIN reason is because it is almost a religious experience. Few things I have seen in nature are able to rival the beauty and power of this wonderful falls.

Years may go by of doing mundane routines and if you really want to refresh your spirit, a hike to Feather Falls does the trick. When seeing the beauty of the trees, streams, wildflowers and creatures of the forest and the Falls itself, there is no better way to make yourself one with nature. Your feet and legs may ache for a few days, but your brain will be refreshed!

I really believe that my 45 year relationship with the falls has made me a better person. It can make you a better person too!

Best wishes, Larry

My thanks to Janell Steele for the above photo of Ladybugs she took on the trail in May 2008.

For Scott Roberts' scenario of our latest Feather Falls Hike, check out: