Faery Falls on Ney Springs Creek is one of the most beautiful spots in the entire Mount Shasta area. The fifty-foot waterfall is relatively easy to reach, and the route also travels through the ruins of intriguing Ney Springs Resort. This article provides a complete description of the Faery Falls Trail, along with trailhead directions and a trail map. (And pay attention to the spelling: it’s “Faery Falls” not “Fairy Falls.”)
Faery Falls Trail Key Data
Distance: 1.6 miles round-trip
Difficulty: Easy along the main dirt road, but moderate for steep side trails with a bit of scrambling
Type: Day hike
Elevation gain: 400 feet
High point: 3300 feet
Season: year-round, but the side trail to Faery Falls is dangerous when the trail is slippery with ice, snow, or mud
Contact: Shasta-Trinity National Forest, Mount Shasta Ranger Station
Permits needed: none
Notes: dogs allowed, no toilets or other facilities, including drinking water
Faery Falls Trailhead Directions
To reach the trailhead, take the Central Mount Shasta exit (Exit 738) from Interstate 5. Get to the west side of the freeway (opposite Mount Shasta itself) and go west 0.2 mile and then turn left on South Old Stage Road. Go straight onto W.A. Barr Road at 0.5 mile. Reach Box Canyon Dam at 2.5 miles, continue another 0.2 mile, and then turn left on Castle Lake Road. Drive 200 feet and take the first dirt road on the left: dirt Ney Springs Road.
Follow Ney Springs Road, which is a bit bumpy but is easily passable to regular passenger vehicles, for 1.3 miles to a fork. Important: the Faery Falls Trail is the dirt road to the right, so note that and then turn left and park in the large lot immediately below.
Faery Falls Trailhead GPS coordinates: N 41.2653 W 122.3255
Starting on the Faery Falls Trail
Turn your back to the parking lot and Ney Springs Creek and walk briefly up to the dirt road mentioned just above in the trailhead directions, which is the Faery Falls Trail. Turn left on the dirt road and begin a gentle southwesterly climb through a forest of Douglas fir, with a few ponderosa pine and incense cedar mixed in. You’ll hear Ney Springs Creek below on your left, and by 0.2 mile you’ll see its clear and tumbling waters dropping through the narrow canyon. Be sure to occasionally turn around, because at a few points you can see the summit of Mount Shasta off to the northeast.
Ney Springs Resort
After 0.4 mile you arrive at the remnants of Ney Springs Resort. Built in the latter part of the nineteenth century, Ney Springs Resort once had a hotel and several outbuildings, along with facilities to allow guests to enjoy the supposed health benefits of Ney Springs’ waters. Besides some rock walls, you’ll also see a cement basin with a fountain still filling it with water, with the inscription “Ney Springs 1921.”
Ney Springs Resort: Down to the Creek
Follow the short and easy spur trail to the left 150 feet down to the banks of Ney Springs Creek. Here a spring-filled cistern sits beside the shaded waters in a peaceful setting. Look closely at the cistern and you’ll see gas bubbles rising up to the surface. And your nose may also notice the smell of sulfur in the vicinity, likely from hydrogen sulfide gas from deep beneath the earth.
Bonus Waterfall: Lower Faery Falls
The dirt road steepens and quickly brings you to another side trail to the left. This path descends steeply to the banks of Ney Springs Creek, where you’ll find a fifteen-foot shaded waterfall with a sheer bank on the far side. This is a beautiful spot that most people skip, but it’s well worth your time. The shallow pool at its base would allow you to cool off on a hot summer day.
This waterfall doesn’t have a name that I know of, so I call it Lower Faery Falls. (See pic near the top of the article)
Continue climbing on the dirt road another 0.2 mile. The roar of Faery Falls grows in your ears, and then you’ll see a trail on the left marked by cairns that takes you the final 150 yards to the falls.
Caution! This trail runs above a very steep drop off down to Ney Springs Creek. Slipping/falling here could lead to serious injury or even death. Consider stopping here if you’re with children or are not completely steady on your feet, or the trail is at all slippery.
The side path runs mostly level, allowing intermittent views of Faery Falls. Once near the falls, you can scramble down a faint path to the base of waterfall.
Faery Falls consists of two tiers, the top one about ten feet and the bottom one about forty feet. Flow is strongest in winter and spring after rains and when warmer temperatures melt snow higher above. Cooling mist swirls near the base and feels good on your skin on a hot day.
Want More Hiking in the Mount Shasta Area?
In the vicinity of Faery Falls, it includes detailed descriptions and maps of:
- Lake Siskiyou Trail
- Box Canyon Trail
- Castle Lake Trail
- Castle Lake to Heart Lake
- Little Castle Lake and Mount Bradley Ridge
And for another waterfall hike, read about hiking the PCT to Burstarse Falls on the south side of Castle Crags.