Lion Slide Falls is a beautiful place to be, but the main draw is the downed tree that bisects the falls, creating a really fun leaping platform for all ages. Little stairs have been cut into the tree to make the climbing easier (hence the name Hatchet Falls), and you can jump from any point. If you’re feeling incredibly daring, you can climb the rocks at the top of the falls and leap 50 feet into the icy pool below (but PLEASE exercise caution here, and use all cliff diving common sense!).
If you happen to find yourself in this area and happen to be slightly waterfall-obsessed like me, this is your playground, my friend. Not only do you have this gem, but within an easy drive are Potem Falls, Burney Falls and the McCloud Falls trio. Just a smidge farther, but still in easy distance, are the four waterfalls of Whiskeytown, California. Waterfalls abound here, each with their own charm.
Directions: Lion Slide/Hatchet Falls is about 45 minutes northeast from Redding, California. From the Redding area, take I-5 north, then 299 east towards Montgomery Creek, California. About 35 miles from your turn onto 299, you will find Big Bend Rd. on your left. Follow Big Bend until you see a dirt parking area on your right, just before a bridge and a big curve in the road. If it’s summer, you will see the cars, especially if it’s a weekend. From the parking area, you will see two trails, one to the left and one to the right. We took the left and marched ourselves right into the creek.
You certainly can go this way, but it involves about half a mile of slogging through the creek until you reach the falls. The easier route is to the right, which for the most part is on dry land. You might have to scramble up and over a downed tree if it’s still in the path, but it’s an easy stretch.
If you take the path to the right, you’ll pop out amidst large rocks perfect for sunning. The water is fairly chilly, but on an August day it’s bliss. It can get crowded in the summer, but there’s still plenty of room to splash and try your turn on the tree jump.