Burney Falls doesn’t conform to standard waterfall protocol— you know, river flows downhill, reaches cliff, tumbles off. Walk along Upper Burney Creek above the cataract and you won’t see a thing, just a dry riverbed. Then a couple of pools of water. And then—bam!—a 129-foot waterfall spilling a hundred million gallons of water a day. Burney’s secret? Five underground rivers converge to form it, with nary a tip-off. Two short trails in McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park lead to the headwater pools and the base of the falls. The park’s other paths—including a section of the Pacific Crest Trail—wend through the volcanic landscape shaded by cedars and firs. You’ll find 128 campsites ($20; parks.ca.gov) and 24 cabins in the woods near Lake Britton ($72; burney-falls.com).
We’re not giving anything away here, at least not to Oregonians. The 26-mile McKenzie River Trail is one of the state’s great mountain bike rides, with a little bit of everything the knobby-tired set covets, including elevation loss (a 1,500-foot descent from the trailhead at Clear Lake, between Bend and Eugene on Oregon 126). The riding is technical, with lava rock sections— full-suspension recommended—and fast flats, smooth descents, and enough serious pedaling to call it a workout. But the real draw is what surrounds the trail: old-growth forest, roaring waterfalls, and Clear Lake (the McKenzie’s aptly named headwater). Just beyond trail’s end is a worthy reward: Belknap Hot Springs, where you can soak in mineral pools and bed down (tent sites, $25; cabins from $65; belknaphotsprings.com). Cog Wild Bicycle Tours offers a shuttle from Bend ($35 per person; cogwild.com).
On a stretch of coastline better known for wintertime big-wave surfing, superb summer winds make Waddell Creek, 20 miles north of Santa Cruz, one of California’s best and safest places to learn to kiteboard. High-wind season runs through October, and a prevailing side breeze guarantees you won’t get blown clear to Japan. Santa Cruz Kitesurfing School teaches basic board skills, water starts, and straight-line riding—all with video support. For a more advanced tutorial (back roll, anyone?), just look seaward, where some of the best kiters in the country gather ($100 an hour; sckitesurfing.com).
[SAVE THE DATE: Aug. 29-Sept. 26] Bellingham is one of those towns that always takes “best place to live” honors. Two good reasons why: paddling Salish Sea and pedaling the Interurban Trail. Elakah Expeditions hits both on a daylong trip that starts at Chuckanut Island, site of a 10,000-year-old shell midden. River otters and seals provide a water escort, while onshore EE guides lead the 15-mile ride down the Interurban Trail, an abandoned rail bed through ferny cedar forests ($110; elakah.com).