North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve in Spring

Phantom Falls

North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve is a nature reserve of 3,315 acres located outside of Oroville, in Northern California, and is a magical place to visit in spring, when wildflowers blanket the volcanic tableau, and when seasonal creeks wind their way through the landscape, culminating in dramatic waterfalls crashing into the deep ravines. 

Inspired by photos of the incredible Phantom Falls, located in the north-eastern area of the reserve, my first successful attempt at hiking to the falls this March was a satisfying one. The waterfall is 164 feet high and runs off the edge of Coal Canyon, in front of a grotto. The falls had ample waterflow, and I was rewarded with a rainbow caused by the wind-blown spray and the afternoon sun. The rainbow appeared to be rising from the tree canopy below, and disappeared soon after when the sun dipped behind a cloud. For more information on the location of the falls, please visit

In March, incredible tapestries of colorful wildflowers and California poppies can be found. I love photographing the poppies in sidelight or backlight when the petals seem to illuminate and glow from within.

The volcanic landscape is evident in the photo above, and if you are planning a hike here, I’d strongly recommend sturdy hiking boots to navigate the sharp rocks, as there are few clearly identified trails in the reserve. While majestic oak trees dot the landscape in some locations, shade is hard to come by in the wide open expanse of the tableau. Water and sunscreen are a definite necessity!

Below is just one of the many seasonal waterfalls of North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve, framed by beautiful wildflowers. In manual mode, I dialed down the exposure compensation as much as possible on my camera to allow me to get a 1/4 second exposure of the waterfall during a bright sunny day to smooth out the flow and provide a more ethereal mood to the water.

North Table Mountain is truly a magical experience in springtime, and please exercise caution when navigating among the delicate wildflowers!

My name is Beth Young, and I'm a licensed architect specializing in healthcare facilities, with a strong passion for capturing the beauty of the natural world through photography. Please feel free to browse or comment. If you wish, prints are available using long lasting and high quality photographic paper or museum quality canvas using archival inks at my website:

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