A day hike with Arturo across North Table Mountain outside of Oroville, Ca to catch Phantom Falls, other seasonal waterfalls, and spring wildflowers in action after heavy rains.
There are no trails on North Table Mountain. From the parking area, we walked among the cows and wildflowers across the fields and rolling hills, hopping several streams to get to the waterfalls.
Max elevation: 1483 ft
Min elevation: 1270 ft
Total climbing: 1673 ft
(My gps unit was acting up at the beginning of the hike and I lost a little bit of data, hence the start position being offset from the parking area.)
The entire state of California has seen a couple massive storm systems over the past week. With all the rain, we figured the waterfalls on Table Mountain would be in full effect. They certainly didn’t let us down. Even though it was pouring down for nearly the entire drive there, as we neared Marysville and Oroville, the rain mercifully stopped. There were still a few stray sprinkles throughout the day and dark clouds overhead, but we escaped the torrents of rain that swelled the streams in the days and weeks prior. On the drive up North Table Mountain, we were rewarded with teases of what was to come. Looking across the valley to the other half of Table Mountain, we could see 5 or 6 waterfalls cascading down the near shear cliffs. These spring rains have also coaxed blankets of wildflowers into blooming, too. Everywhere we looked, the ground was covered in yellows and purples.
After leaving the parking area, we cut northeast through the fields among the cows and the flowers. There were several little rivulets of water and an abundance of standing water, but the first real stream we encountered was in a small gully. After crossing that, we found our way to Ravine Falls where one of the streams poured over the side of a cliff.
From there we cut north and approached the sheer cliff that marked where we’d see the other falls. At the edge of that cliff, Little Phantom Falls came into view. As we stood taking pictures, Arturo spotted a little newt relaxing on the wet rocks at our feet.
Making our way down the cliff’s edge, we came around a corner and up a slight incline and caught sight of the grand attraction: Phantom Falls. It’s a truly spectacular waterfall. We hiked toward it along the cliff and eventually found a spot to cross the stream feeding it. From there we walked along the edge of the far side of the ravine, getting more incredible views of the falls.
After having our fill of waterfalls and wildflowers. we cut straight back toward where we’d begun. The wind had picked up and it was incredibly gusty on our walk back. Luckily the wind wasn’t as strong when we were standing on the edge of the cliffs! We hopped a fence (we may have trespassed a little bit), passed the grazing cows, jumped across stream after stream and finally made it back. The beautiful flowers and incredible waterfalls backdropped against the ethereal misty, grey day made the wet feet well more than worth it.
These falls are seasonal, so go in the spring after some heavy rains.
ChicoHiking.org’s page on this area.
The parking area (google maps link): N39° 35.755′ W121° 32.504′
Phantom Falls: N39° 36.625′ W121° 33.638′
Ravine Falls view: N39° 36.272′ W121° 33.479′
Little Phantom Falls view: N39° 36.479′ W121° 33.730′