Pets allowed
Allowed
Elevation Gain
?
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
3.50 mi (5.63 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Between 30 and 40 million years ago, an ancient volcano near what is now Honey Lake expelled lava that flowed west and drained all the way into what would become the Northern Sacramento Valley. This dark basalt formation can be seen in a handful of places, but one of the best spots is at Table Mountain north of Oroville. In the early spring, geology combines with plant ecology and hydrology to create a spectacular show of waterfalls, wildflowers, and vernal pools.

A solitary oak greets you at the North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve parking area. As there are currently no established trails, you should note the oak as a landmark while you embark on your cross-country walkabout. There are plenty of nooks and crannies to explore in this reserve, and some of the highlights are the twin cascades of Fern Falls and Coal Canyon Falls, also known as Ravine Falls and Phantom Falls, respectively. The trickiest part of the walk to the overlook occurs just as you pass Fern Falls. Make sure to pass south and west of the fence line that forms a border with private property. Once you pass the fence, an unofficial use trail makes it easier to navigate toward an overlook showing Coal Canyon Falls and Coal Canyon.

The walk to the overlook is about 1.75 miles one way. You have the option of hiking in an arc around Coal Canyon Falls for more photographic opportunities. A cut in the lava cap northwest of the falls can provide access with a scramble to the underbelly of the falls and the lava cap.

 

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring

Congestion

High

Parking Pass

General Day Use Fee

Pros

Wildflowers. Waterfalls. Room to explore.

Cons

Short hiking season. Crowds on weekends.

Trailhead Elevation

1,336.00 ft (407.21 m)

Net Elevation Gain

-100.00 ft (-30.48 m)

Features

Waterfalls
Bird watching
Wildlife
Big vistas
Wildflowers
Geologically significant

Typically multi-day

No

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Adventures

Comments

03/20/2018
After a discussion with California Fish and Wildlife staff, Phantom Falls is officially known as "Coal Canyon Falls" while Ravine Falls is officially known as "Fern Falls". Many locals still refer to them as Phantom and Ravine respectively. A bit confusing!
03/07/2018

New fee at North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve:

Passes: A CDFW Lands Pass must be carried by each visitor who is 16 years of age or older, however, visitors who are carrying a valid California hunting or fishing license in their name are exempt from this requirement. Lands passes may be purchased on-line, by phone at (800) 565-1458, or in-person at locations wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold. Lands passes cannot be substituted for Wildlife Area Hunting Passes, which are required for adult hunters on Type-A and Type-B wildlife areas. $4.32 for one day, $25.10 for annual pass.

School and organized youth groups, including accompanying adults, are exempt from the lands pass requirement, but need to contact the area to schedule a field trip.
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