McCloud Falls in Shasta Trinity National Forest
Series of cascading stages make up the tri step group of the McCloud Falls named simply on the location of the current. Upper McCloud falls located highest upstream, Middle McCloud falls located obviously in between the upper and lower steps and subsequently lower McCloud falls closing of the trifecta chain down the stream.
Located only 20 minutes away from Mt Shasta town off of Hwy 89 (Volcanic Legacy scenic byway) is one of California natural wonders – the McCloud Falls. Literally an oasis in otherwise dry and harsh environment.
If you have limited time and want to get the best bang for your buck – check out the Middle McCloud Falls first. It is considered the most scenic with the best observation deck and actually a bit of a trail leading to the base of the swimming hole. Btw there’s absolutely no fee for seeing these waterfalls, and parking is also free.
Parking at McCloud Falls
Super easy – although might be very crowded especially during the summer day, even early in the morning. Simply type Upper Falls Parking, Middle Falls Parking or the Lower Falls Parking into Google Maps to locate the desired cascade respectively.
Also, try not to park at the Fowlers Campground near the Lower McCloud Falls – which would be totally rude to the campers.
Things to do at McCloud Falls with kids
There are two swimming holes found at the base of the middle and lower falls, with lower falls swimming area being the most popular. Wink wink – go swimming at the middle falls if you want less of a crowd.
Many teenagers dive off of the surrounding rock cliffs straight into the murky raging waters – which is of course as cool and reasonable as using and electric circular saw blindfolded. We’ve seen people do back flips and somersaults like there’s no tomorrow. A spectacular show – enjoyable the most from behind a viewfinder of a camera.
It’s a nice place to come down to and chill after exploring Mt. Shasta National Park or hiking at the Mt. Shasta. Some people even manage to bring fishing poles, although we didn’t see them catch anything. Lots and lots of the local kids visit these swimming holes during the summer swimming season. Typically visitors picnic on the rocks all around the falls enjoying the views, however apparently there are also table and bench areas around the parking lots.
McCloud Falls – Upper Fall
Unfortunately we were pressed for time, and it was incredibly hot during the month of May in the area so we kinda skipped this cascade. One of the best description I found online was of course from the world of waterfalls website:
“The Upper Falls was kind of a chute waterfall with some interesting cascades further upstream feeding its dramatic chute.”
McCloud Falls – Middle Fall
All the photographs in this post area from the Middle Fall area. Which is incredibly picturesque and simply an awe inspiring location near Mt Shasta. There’s a small parking lot located nearby which fills up fairly quickly, especially during the summer month.
There’s a panoramic observation deck above the falls and a short switchback hike down to the McCloud river stream. I’ve read so many nice things about the location and the reviews were pretty accurate. A blissfully refreshing mist from the falls… shade in the nearby trees and overall atmosphere of tranquility makes it a perfect spot to chill down after hiking Mt. Shasta.
McCloud Falls – Lower Fall
We hadn’t have a pleasure of exploring this one either for similar reasons as above. However I’ve read that there’s heavy traffic, especially with a campground and all the locals coming to the swimming hole. Apparently the views are not as spectacular as those of the middle falls.
We were a bit disappointed that McArthur-Burney Falls parking lot was completely packed with a line of cars stretching for quarter of a mile out of the front gate. We however found the McCloud Falls which were easily accessible, very enjoyable and memorable.