Length: 3.8 miles round trip
High Point: 3600 feet
Elevation Gain: 300 feet
Difficulty: easy to moderate
When to Hike: year-round; some snow in winter; roads not plowed in winter; call the McCloud Ranger Station at (530) 964-2184 for road conditions
Controlling Agency: McCloud Ranger Station, Shasta-Trinity National Forest, P.O. Box 1620, McCloud, CA 96057; (530) 964-2184. Visit the office at 2019 Forest Road on the north side of Highway 89 on the east side of McCloud.
Special Features: three spectacular waterfalls; trail bordering the clear and cool McCloud River; summer swimming; fall colors on deciduous plants in October and November
Directions to the Trailhead: Use Highway 89 for 15 miles east of the I-5/89 junction and 5 miles east of McCloud and turn south on Road 40N44. (Look for a Fowlers Camp/McCloud Falls sign.) Go right at .6 mile (a left here takes you to overlooks of Middle Falls and Upper Falls) Continue another .7 mile past the campground and park at the picnic area at the Lower Falls. Follow your ears toward Lower Falls and the beginning of the trail.
Description and Comments: Good swimming holes await at the bases of Lower Falls and Middle Falls for those willing to brave the chill waters. The path begins near Lower Falls and follows the river upstream along a gentle gradient for 1.2 miles to Middle Falls. From there it’s a steep climb up the edge of the canyon to the Middle Falls overlook, which also offers views of Mount Shasta, Castle Crags, and other local mountains to the west. (Watch children closely at the steep areas in the vicinity of the overlook and beyond.) The path then travels another half-mile to view the narrow gorge containing the Upper Falls. From here you can continue for up to 13.4 miles to Algoma Campground.
Maps: USGS 7.5′ Lake McCloud.