• Activities:

    Chillin, Photography, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Intermediate

  • Season:

    Spring, Winter

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    6.5 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    850 Feet

Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Groups
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Phantom falls aka Coal Canyon falls is a small hidden spot of startling beauty located on North Table Mountain in Oroville, California.

Dropping off a 135 ft cliff is a very well hidden waterfall with no trails leading to it. But if you do find it, it is an epic natural wonder.It is best to come here in the winter months, after a lot of rain. But it is also well worth coming in the spring when the wildflowers on Table Mountain are flourishing.

When you arrive at the trailhead, you will see that there is indeed no trail at all. You need to traverse cross country in a north-west direction to reach Phantom Falls. A GPS or compass is highly recommended for this hike. If you do not have one, it will be very difficult to find your way cross-country without any landmarks. Essentially, you want to follow an old fence line on the right until you reach the top of Ravine and Ravine Twin Falls, cross those creeks, around the end of another old fence, follow that fence line for awhile, until you finally cut over to the Phantom Falls viewpoint (note: I had to "cut over" or as some people would describe as "trespass" for approximately 5 minutes in order to reach Phantom falls). You won't be able to see the waterfall from a distance as there are a lot of rolling hills throughout the entire hike.

There are plenty of other waterfalls on North and South Table Mountain as well. You will pass three of them en route to Phantom Falls. All of these waterfalls on Table Mountain have very small drainage, so they will be flowing well only after quite a lot of rain. If you want to see any waterfalls during the summer months, unfortunately you may be disappointed.

Expect to see a lot of grazing cattle, they are generally safe but you'll definitely want to give the occasional bull some space.

Directions: From Oroville on Hwy 70, take exit 48 (Grand Ave.). Follow Grand Ave. east for 1.0 miles to Table Mountain Blvd. Turn left for 0.2 miles, then right on Cherokee Rd. Drive 6.3 miles on Cherokee Rd. to the unmarked parking area on the left (you'll see a green cattle gate).  

Coordinates:

  • Parking Lot: 39.595923, -121.541736
  • Phantom Falls: 39.61041, -121.56063

Pack List

  • Water proof boots
  • Rain coat depending on weather
  • GPS or compass
  • Camera
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

Reviews

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This hike is great all year-round; definitely try going when it's rainy. I've been a handful of times and the time it was raining was by far the BEST!

2 months ago
2 months ago

Love this hike, especially in early Spring. The wildflowers are INSANE right now with all the water that California has gotten. Super easy to get to the falls, but even if you don't there are so many spots where you can find a moment of bliss up there. There's a spot near the bottom of Ravine Falls where there is a ton of trees, and it is PERFECT if you enjoy setting up a hammock and relaxing.

11 months ago
11 months ago

I went here for a day trip on April 2, 2017. I was a bit concerned at first because I had heard that the flowers weren't blooming yet, but there were flowers EVERYWHERE. They weren't the same kind of blooms that you get down in Southern California, but they were magnificent all the same. When we arrived there were some nice volunteers with a map and plenty of advice for getting to Phantom Falls. There were a lot of people around, but as we continued further from the trailhead, most of the families and larger groups stayed on the plateau. The plateau was beautiful, only a few of the vernal pools still had water in them, but those that had dried up for the year were filled with goldfields, white-tipped clover, miniature lupine, blue dicks, California poppies, frying pan poppies, and more! As we continued towards the falls(through the mentioned drainage ditches and walking NW towards a nicely placed snow-capped peak), we continued to see amazing flowers, saw newts and frogs in the creeks, and finally had a bit of time to ourselves. We made it to Fern Falls and as we rounded Fern Falls, we got to the "trespassing" section, basically an area where you have to go around a private property fence line so that you don't fall into the canyon, but you pass through that pretty quickly. Although there isn't a "trail" we saw a pretty well-used dirt path that we used to minimize our disturbance. Finally, we reached Coal Canyon and Phantom falls and WOW, it was amazing from all angles. We stopped and took pictures, walked over to it the edge where it went off into the canyon, and eventually went down a narrow path(with the help of a rope left by a kind traveler) and reached the base of the falls. Since this was the first truly nice Spring day for the region, we took a dip in the Falls, which was absolutely breathtaking. Overall, the trip was magical, and I'd recommend it to anyone, especially during the Spring. One quick safety note though. While we were swimming in the falls we heard a helicopter circling above us. After a leisurely walk back to the trail head, there were about 4-5 Cal Fire engines, an ambulance and an engine from the nearby town of Paradise. Although I haven't been able to find any news about it, apparently someone fell from the canyon and had to be rescued. Please pay attention near canyons. The wind gets strong, and its so easy to make a mistake that could be life-threatening, so take care. We had absolutely no safety concerns, but it's always a good reminder nonetheless. Easily a 10/10 day hike.

11 months ago
11 months ago

Loved this hike! such an amazing setting & unexpected spectacular scenery, finding the falls (and the non existent trail) is half the fun! Highly recommended to add dinner in Chico after your hike, such a cool little town

about 1 year ago
about 1 year ago

I did this hike the weekend after Easter and thank goodness there were people there to point us in the right direction because I would've never found it otherwise. They basically said to walk straight out into the field, taking a left at the fence until there's a break in it to cross over and it worked out, though the field is so vast it'd be easy to wander aimlessly for a while. Along the way there was a plethora of gorgeous wildflowers and other falls to look at. When getting near to Phantom Falls there's gorgeous viewpoints of them and the canyon to welcome you to your destination. My friend and I climbed down to the bottom of the falls, using the rope to assist us, and saw a rattlesnake down at the bottom so beware! He was just sunbathing on the warm rocks but it was scary none the less. There's a nice pool to sit around and rest, while watching the water fall from above. It was also much cooler down there so was a great way to let my body recover from the heat. We got a little misguided on the way back but I couldn't complain because it's flat terrain and I was greatly enjoying all the wildflower blooms. Definitely want to go back next Spring

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

A friend and I did this hike back in February and it was one of my favorites of all the places I've been to so far. It's not too hike-y; everything is relatively flat for most of the trek to the falls (except for one part where it got a tiny bit adventurous). We met a few cows along the way but other than that didn't see any wildlife. If you just follow the fence for most of the way like the post says you'll get there! There's a decent sized parking lot and a porta potty there (it hadn't been emptied in a loooooong time though).

almost 2 years ago
almost 2 years ago

Xavier Salgado

It's not about seeing the obvious. It's about seeing the unseen!

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