McCloud River Waterfalls Trail

McCloud, California

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1 Review
5 out of 5
This trio of robust waterfalls, when surrounded by a blanket of snow, seems extra special and photogenic. Tune into a wild river that teases you with the first waterfall, entices you with the second, and then blows the doors down with the third waterfall. Skipping Upper McCloud Falls would be like walking out of a mystery movie two-thirds of the way through. All three of these misting falls are encompassed in granite, but the similarities end there. In contrast, Lower Falls are tame while Middle Falls exude a spiritual feel where a soul can hark back to the days when the Wintu Indians must have found deep peace on one of the huge rocks at the scene. Intense Upper Falls aren’t as photogenic as Middle Falls but are arguably the most breathtaking and certainly carry the most water force. This trip has a lot to admire for little energy expense. Note that you can make the journey much longer (even a backpack trip) by continuing on a new trail section that traces the banks of fast-flowing McCloud River. After 14 miles, yew conifer at trailside. It features a peeling, madrone-like trunk with redwood-like needles. Shortly, you’ll see, but not hear, a charging sheet of white just beyond a big rock so imposing that it forces the course of the river to veer.

McCloud River Waterfalls Trail Professional Review and Guide

"This trio of robust waterfalls, when surrounded by a blanket of snow, seems extra special and photogenic. Tune into a wild river that teases you with the first waterfall, entices you with the second, and then blows the doors down with the third waterfall. Skipping Upper McCloud Falls would be like walking out of a mystery movie two-thirds of the way through. All three of these misting falls are encompassed in granite, but the similarities end there. In contrast, Lower Falls are tame while Middle Falls exude a spiritual feel where a soul can hark back to the days when the Wintu Indians must have found deep peace on one of the huge rocks at the scene. Intense Upper Falls aren’t as photogenic as Middle Falls but are arguably the most breathtaking and certainly carry the most water force. This trip has a lot to admire for little energy expense. Note that you can make the journey much longer (even a backpack trip) by continuing on a new trail section that traces the banks of fast-flowing McCloud River. After 14 miles, yew conifer at trailside. It features a peeling, madrone-like trunk with redwood-like needles. Shortly, you’ll see, but not hear, a charging sheet of white just beyond a big rock so imposing that it forces the course of the river to veer."

Activity Type: Snowshoeing
Nearby City: McCloud
Distance: 3.2
Elevation Gain: 200 feet
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Skill Level: Easy
Duration: 3–4 hours
Season: Winter
Accessibility: Kid-friendly
Local Contacts: McCloud Ranger District, Shasta-Trinity National Forest
Local Maps: USGS Lake McCloud
Driving Directions: Directions to McCloud River Waterfalls Trail

Recent Trail Reviews

12/31/2007
0

We really enjoyed this trip but were fortunate to know the area as an outsider may have difficulty navigating. The trail was broken until the bottom of the middle falls but then it was challenging to see the trail that switchbacked to the top of the overlook at Middle Falls. From there the trail was hard to find. Also, folks should be aware that there are some steep areas and can be dangerous. I would rate this as a "moderate" in difficulty. There is limited cell phone service in the area (AT&T). If you are not an experienced 4X4 operator, best to park near Hwy 89 and hike in. This will add quite a bit to the adventure.



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May 2018