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Phantom Falls Loop

Updated: Feb 23, 2023

Location : North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve, Oroville, CA.

Parking : Park at trailhead

Parking Fee: No parking fee, but there is a Land Use fee of $5.40 per person

Trail type : Lollipop Loop

Trail Length : 7.1 miles rt (8 miles if you go to the back of Phantom Falls)

Elevation Gain : 1775 ft (Al Trails elevation is incorrect)

Difficulty : Moderate if you are only going to see Phantom Falls from the top and back. Strenuous if doing the entire loop or attempting to see the falls from behind.

Dog Friendly? Yes.

Trails traversed : Phantom Falls Loop

Pro Tip : Download AllTrails trail map beforehand, as there is no wifi in the area. Wear ankle high hiking boots as the trail is rocky end to end. It will also be muddy with multiple stream crossings after the rains.

The iconic view of Phantom Falls on the left and Lower Phantom Falls on the right

Phantom Falls, located in the North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve in Oroville, California, a 3 hours drive from the Bay Area, is a hidden gem that attracts nature enthusiasts from all over. This stunning waterfall, surrounded by lush greenery, is a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. Whether you're looking for a peaceful hike, a scenic picnic spot, or a stunning photo opportunity, Phantom Falls has something for everyone. With its clear and refreshing water, breathtaking views, and rich history, this waterfall is a must-visit for anyone in the Oroville area in the winter months, after a good rainfall.

The history of the falls dates back to the 1800s when gold was discovered in the area. The falls were used as a source of water for the nearby mines and became a popular spot for local miners to rest and relax. Over the years, the waterfall and surrounding area have been used for various purposes, including logging, agriculture, and recreation.

The North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve is a unique and diverse ecosystem that is home to a wide variety of plant and animal life. During the winter months it is popular for the numerous waterfalls and in the springtime, visitors can expect to see a variety of wildflowers, including lupines and wild iris.


>> Got a question about this hike that you need answered quickly? DM me on Instagram @SolaraStills and I’ll be happy to help! I only accept DMs from followers, so hit the follow button before sending.


Parking : NOTE : Google Maps will take you elsewhere for Phantom Falls Loop Trailhead. Add this address in Google Maps for the parking lot : 2488 Cherokee Road, Oroville, CA. Parking lot is located at the trailhead. Ample parking is available at the parking lot, any time of the day. There are also two restrooms at the trailhead.

View of the Parking lot and restroom

Fee: Each person on the trail needs to be in possession of a land use pass. The pass can be obtained online here. There is no cellphone signal at the trailhead. So I highly advise signing up for the pass before arriving.

The Trail: At the time of this writing (1/29/2023), the entire trail was fully washed out due to the numerous storms in the prior weeks. We had downloaded the trail map from AllTrails prior to starting the hike, which helped us to stay on the invisible track. The route is almost flat for the first mile, with the trail meandering through large expanse of evergreen cow pastures and across a few streams. The path is rocky in parts and muddy as well.

The start of the trail

The trail is rocky from start to finish.

At about 1.2 miles, you will encounter the first waterfall on the trail, Ravine Falls. This stunning 76ft falls cascades down a sheer rock face and is fed by the nearby Table Mountain, which is one of the most prominent features of the ecological reserve.

Ravine Falls

The top of Ravine Falls

The next quarter mile or so is a steep uphill climb to the top of the Table Mountain to view what everyone is here for - the magnificent Phantom Falls cascading down 166ft. This seasonal falls is fed by snowmelt and rainwater and is surrounded by lush greenery and wildflowers.

Steep climb up to the top of Table Mountain

First view of Phantom Falls

Wildflowers were just beginning to pop

Side view of Phantom Falls

Take your time to view the falls from the distance at different vantage points along the cliffs edge. Notice the cave behind the falls. It is accessible, via a steep ravine next to the cave. I highly recommend checking it out, but only if you are in good shape and up for some adventure. Access to the cave will add another mile to your overall hike. If you think you are up for the physical challenge, you need to get off-route from AllTrails, and head to the right and cross over the stream. Here you can also view the falls from the side and top. If you go a little further right, there is a short but extremely steep ravine that leads to the cave. The way down is extremely slippery and rocky. Halfway down the slope, a kind soul has installed a rope to help hikers repel down the steepest portion of the ravine.

After you repel your way down to the bottom of the ravine, head left to the cave to view the falls from behind. A rocky path starts at the cave and leads to the bottom of the falls. This is a great spot to stop for a picnic lunch and gather your strength before repelling your way up again.

Behind Phantom Falls

Once you are back on the main trail, continue to follow AllTrails to the next view point, which is the iconic and breathtaking view of Phantom Falls, where you can capture Phantom Falls and Little Phantom Falls all in one shot.

Phantom Falls on the left and Little Phantom Falls on the right. Notice the rainbow?

From here on, I found the rest of the hike to be extremely rocky and boring. At this point, I would suggest retracing your steps back and return to the parking lot. But if you are hiking for the stepcount and miles, then continue on. The path goes along a stream for the rest of the way, and is pretty unimpressive. The trail takes you to Lower Ravine Falls next, where you can view the falls from the top and side. It was nothing spectacular.

View of Lower Ravine Falls

After trodding through a muddy path in a flat cows pasture, the next viewpoint is Beatson Falls. We tried hard, but couldnt see the falls from the viewpoint!

After another 3 miles of the same scenery and rocky path, the trail finally takes you back to the parking lot.


>> Got a question about this hike that you need answered quickly? DM me on Instagram @SolaraStills and I’ll be happy to help! I only accept DMs from followers, so hit the follow button before sending.


In summary, this hike is great until the Little Phantom Falls viewpoint, and is unremarkable for the rest of the loop. Check it out in the winter to see the falls or in the spring to see the wildflowers.

This blog is sponsored by Born Tough


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