"Lost" Giant Waterfall Discovered in California

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Trail to the Falls

Weatherbee and Rasmussen were not the first to find the waterfall. Surveys of the area turned up evidence of a logging operation possibly dating to the 1950s. A machine cable and the remnants of a bulldozer suggest that workers had logged the area before it was given park status in 1965.

Still, the terrain around the falls has proved forbidding enough to keep out all but the most enterprising explorers. Deep ravines make for extremely steep climbing in some places, and the ground is choked with dense manzanita shrubs and poison oak.

"The land around there is at such an angle that you'd have a hard time stopping if you started to slip or fall," said Steve Thede, another National Park Service ranger who has been to the waterfall. "I wouldn't want to fall out there."

Similarly rough and remote terrain has provided cover for illicit marijuana farms in nearby Shasta National Forest.

Crews recently began work on blazing a two-mile (three-kilometer) trail to Whiskeytown Falls from an existing hiking trail.

In the meantime, park officials have closed off the falls to would-be adventurers because of the dangerous conditions. The trail will be completed next summer, the rangers say.

Until then, they are busy fielding e-mails and telephone calls from tourists who are anxious to discover the falls for themselves.

Some people want to share stories theyve heard about the elusive cascades. Others just have questions about where they can find the falls and how soon they can hike out to them.

"The better question might be, Why [did we] make the announcement now, before we have a trail to it?" Thede said. "Because people are driving me nuts with their calling."

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