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The Ladybug Migration of Feather Falls

Spy the colorful insects in Plumas National Forest.

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    If you're up for a nine-mile hike and some amazing waterfall action, you could wend your way to a spot loaded with ladybugs in Plumas National Forest.

    MIGRATORY CRITTERS OF ALL SORTS... are much on the minds of nature lovers come the wintertime, thanks to Monarch butterflies filling groves from Pismo Beach to Pacific Grove and the grey whales swimming just off our shores (they're headed to warmer Mexican lagoons to give birth, as you surely know). But other beasties make journeys, of course, though to admire some of them as they proceed sometimes means making a bigger trip than you might in some other instances. Take the ladybugs of Plumas National Forest, in Butte County. You're not going to pull up to a parking lot and see a caboodle of colorful red-and-black insects hanging out feet from your parking spot, we'll guess. But you can see ladybugs in impressive clusters if you are ready to make a nine-mile hike along the Feather Falls trail. As for the specifics on where to look? A Butte County representative recommends heading for...

    "THE FEATHER FALLS TRAILHEAD," where you'll "...take a left at the fork and go down the canyon at a bridge across Frey Creek. This is usually where the ladybugs will go to migrate." There's also a 410-foot plunging waterfall along the trail, so if the ladybugs have already headed back down the valley, which they do when winter wraps up, you'll still be able to see a sublime, and good-sized, waterfall on your trek. The loop is "pretty spectacular and relatively unknown," says the rep for the county, so best bring your best hiking buds with you, and water, and the goods you'll need for a safe and interesting day spent deep in nature (and, of course, check the weather, too). Also? Just be sure that you can take on nine miles, too, before heading out. Fingers crossed for a few ladybug sightings along the way, but count on spending time near lush trees, pretty waterfalls, and burbly Frey Creek, too. The ladybugs return around October, each year, and depart again come March.

    MORE NATURE PLEASE: Here's the information you need on Plumas National Forest. Love ladybugs? They visit other spots around the state, too, like Redwood Regional Park in Oakland. Love migratory animals? There's a festival for them, in Santa Cruz, in February.