27-28-29_Sept2014_Camping_Trip up at Burney McArthur State Park

We went camping! Chance managed to weasel out of it by arguing that he had way too much homework and debate work to do, and while I was close to making him go anyway, I decided that he needed to be in control of his schoolwork/life and let him make the decision. It was definitely Chance-friendly camping though, since we stayed in a cabin for both nights and didn’t have to sleep on the ground in a tent. The cabin had bunk beds for Jack and Luke, and John and I slept on the floor on two surprisingly comfortable sleeping pads. We left Saturday morning around 9 am (the boys had things to do on Friday, and it just worked out better to have John take Monday off instead of Friday. We took highway 80 to 505, then up to Highway 5, so we wouldn’t have to drive too closely to the wildfires happening on the east side of Sacramento. We arrived at Mc Arthur-Burney about 4 pm, checked in, unleaded stuff into the cabin and then walked over to the falls.

27_28_29_Sept14_Camping_Trip-8160 27_28_29_Sept14_Camping_Trip-8176

That first shot is the overlook, which is about 150 feet from the parking lot near the entry kiosk (about 0.5 miles from our cabin). It is all wheelchair accessible, so they get a lot of day visitors who come and see these 128 feet falls, which don’t go dry in the summer (unlike the falls at Yosemite) since they are fed by underground springs. The next picture shows Luke walking down the very nice path to the shore of the waterfall – you can see the gorgeous color of the water in that shot: cobalt blue with a tinge of green.


Luke is looking up from the path wondering why his parents aren’t catching up to him – we were too busy looking at the falls and taking pictures.

27_28_29_Sept14_Camping_Trip-8216 27_28_29_Sept14_Camping_Trip-8211 27_28_29_Sept14_Camping_Trip-8209

Some nice pictures of the falls with the boys in front.


John took some pictures of me and Luke trying to get warm, it was noticeably colder down by the shore than it was up at the parking lot. And he even got some good pictures of me, that water background makes for a very nice picture. I am only including two pictures of me because the family complains often of not ever seeing me on the blog 🙂




Luke and Jack headed off to the left of the falls to reach the baby trickles on the left – John and I were happy to sit and just enjoy the beauty of the water.


The above pictures show our Saturday night campfire in the fire pit – nothing like watching a former Boy Scout try and get a fire going with damp firewood and redwood needles. Luke and Daddy finally got it going, and we enjoyed some marshmallows, and some hot dogs, and then some more marshmallows,  in that order of course! The weatherman predicted some rain that night, and we did indeed get a bit of rain, which is always a  treat for Californians in the middle of a drought. It was a little gloomy on  Sunday morning, but there was no indication of rain, so we had to get ready for the big hike!


We ended up doing two loops since none of the trails in the park are really very long, so first we did the trail that eventually takes up to the lake that the river drains into, and then after a quick stop at the cabin for some more water and a bathroom break, we headed back out to do the trail that goes upstream from the falls. We ended up doing about 8 miles of total walking all day, but don’t tell Luke, he thought we only did 4 miles and was insistent he couldn’t do anymore. The  picture above of the stream (heading to lake) has a lot of plants growing in the middle of the water, no wonder this is trout fishing heaven. It was also clear water, so you could see all the way to the bottom of the stream. You can also see a slice of a redwood tree above that started growing in about 1680. Very cool!



Heading out on the trail and getting to the lake – lots of redwoods and forest.


Just as we were starting to get to the lake, Luke noticed a bird nest on the top of a dead?/fire-damaged? tree. We think it was an eagle’s nest, since it was in an open meadow and would be perfect for an eagle hunting rabbits and mice.


One of the most interesting things we saw on our hike was this area next to the lake…it turns out that this area is one of the largest deposits of diatomaceous earth, which is the remains of ancient diatoms (hard-shelled algae) from millions of years ago. It is amazing that the entire hill doesn’t come crashing down into the lake, it is very chalky and easily crumbled.Oh, and the picture of the water is an attempt to catch all the birds flying down to catch bugs off the surface of the water – they are blurry though, it wasn’t too sunny when I took the picture.


Luke found a piece on the ground that seemed to have a leaf fossil in it, but I can’t find it in the picture now…


Doesn’t it look like those trees are going to come crashing down? Their roots must be one of the reasons why there is still a cliff of the diatoms there.



Hiking back to the campground the back way after spending a little bit of time sitting next to the lake and eating a snack. There was a nice camp across the lake that was apparently built by PG&E (our power company here in California) years and years ago for their employees and retirees. They were even the ones who dammed the stream in the first place to make the lake, although the drought it hitting even up here, the level of the lake had to be at least 20 feet low from the looks of the piers and docks at the marina.


After a quick water/bathroom break back at the cabin (there weren’t bathrooms in the cabin, it wasn’t that nice!), we started back at the falls again and went upstream from the falls. The sun had come out by then, and it was a bit warmer, but still a cool autumn day, perfect for hiking.



You can see the plants in the water that I mentioned – we looked for some big trout but no luck. They tend to stay under overhanging rocks and not come out during the day. Luke also did some clambering and exploring next to the stream while we were taking a break.



Heading back to the cabin…


And another campfire – we were wondering if we would get some predicted rain/thunderstorms (you won’t hear us complaining about rain, even on a camping trip!). but they didn’t materialize. We used the fire/grill to make dinner, and the boys learned some lessons about cooking over a fire – flames are too hot, but the coals can cool down too much – but we eventually got some dinner cooked (they made grilled cheese in my cast iron pan, and I made flatbread for me and John, with tomatoes and cheese all mixed up together in a bowl).





And don’t forget the marshmallows!


Monday morning, Daddy and Luke just wanted to head home, so we didn’t do a morning hike (we needed to be out by 11 am anyway). See Luke in the car anxiously awaiting everyone? He was a little homesick Sunday night, although I asked him how he could be homesick with his mama and daddy there. He didn’t know 🙂

John also got a picture of some deer visiting the campgrounds that morning, but the pictures aren’t too clear. And then you see us driving out of the campsite, and encountering huge construction vehicles on the road down the mountain (in rearview mirror). It took longer to get home than we planned, because we ran into 3-4 construction zones on the way down the mountain, but we eventually made it home safe and sound, having enjoyed very much our camping trip.

Leave a Comment