Hike to Phantom Falls
Lake Tahoe › Phantom Falls Trailhead
Added by Xavier Salgado
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).
- Parking Lot: 39.595923, -121.541736
- Phantom Falls: 39.61041, -121.56063
- Water proof boots
- Rain coat depending on weather
- GPS or compass
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Elusive Phantom Falls
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
One of my favorites
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).
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