Burstarse Falls, located in the Castle Crags Wilderness, is one of the few waterfalls in the region known as the Trinity Divide. It is also one of the few that will make you feel as if you were in Yosemite and the Southern Sierra. While Mount Shasta and the Trinity Alps may be blanketed in snow during winter, this hike is still fairly easy to accomplish and enjoyable during the peak of waterfall season.
The hike begins at an open area 3.3 miles up Castle Creek Road. There is a small Pacific Crest Trail sign on the right side of the road that is easy to miss, so pay attention to your mileage. The initial half mile includes a strenuous 600-foot climb that takes place on Dog Trail, so named for the fact that dogs are allowed on this trail area outside Castle Crags State Park itself. This part of the trail offers the first few really nice views of the Trinities as you work your way up to the Pacific Crest Trail. As the trail begins to level off you will reach a fork in the trail. Following the trail to the left (west), continue heading up the mountain side. Note that if you continue heading straight (east), the trail will take you to the East Fork of Sulphur Creek and I-5, which is not the place you will be shooting for! As the trail goes deeper into the wilderness you will again be greeted with some wonderful views of the Trinity Divide and a few smaller runoff water falls. You'll hike another 1.75 miles before you hit a small sign and a rather large creek. This is Burstarse Creek, and the trail gets a bit dangerous here as you now want to follow along the creek itself up the side of the mountain from which it cascades.
The first waterfall comes into view after climbing approximately 70 feet, and it is an ideal place to rest for a while and take in the scenery. At 25-feet, many consider it Lower Burstarse Falls, and many people mistake it for Burstarse Falls itself. In fact, Burstarse Falls is approximately a quarter of a mile higher, and loose, slippery granite and dirt make accessing it quite dangerous. Use caution and stay on the east side of the creek as you continue up the faint trail above the lower falls and into the canyon. Here the trail becomes virtually nonexistent; some opt to use the west side over the steep and unstable terrain on the east side, and using the creek itself is also an option. As you work a little further into the canyon you will see the falls plummeting 50 feet from the top of a granite drainage, an absolutely grand view. For those willing, it is possible to scale the west side of the falls to reach the top. Enjoy the view and some well earned rest!