Sunday, September 19, 2010

Mt. Shasta Area Trip - 9/13/10 Day 4 - Mccloud River Trail Hike & Bike , Mccloud Falls


Our original plan was to pack up and camp at Fowlers Campground near Mccloud. But we opted instead to stay at Cave Springs another night and do a day trip to the Mccloud area and hike the 3 Waterfalls Hike along the Mccloud River Trail.

We packed our lunch and set off driving north on I5. We then took HWY 89 (Volcanic Legacy Hwy) towards Mccloud and then the River Loop Rd. to the Lower Falls Day Use Parking lot. The River Loop Rd. seemed newly paved as the last time I was here in ‘99 the roads were dirt.

A few feet from the parking lot is a viewing platform looking over Lower Mccloud Falls.

Lower Mccloud Falls

Lower Mccloud Falls

I remember jumping off the cliff into the pool below last time I was here, however, the Forest Service has since removed the steel ladder that assisted one with climbing back out. We continued along the Mccloud River Trail which for the next ½ mile or so is paved.

Mccloud River viewed from paved trail beside Fowlers Camp

The trail leads through Fowler's Campground and then turns to an actual dirt path and heads toward Middle Falls. It parallels the Mccloud River with many spur trails leading to the river bank.

View of Mccloud River from Spur Trail

California Sister

The trail is mostly level save for a 300’ climb after Middle Falls. We soon came to Middle Falls which in my opinion is the most spectacular of the three. There is a perfect swimming pool at the base of the falls if you can brave the icy cold waters.

Middle Mccloud Falls

Middle Falls

Middle Falls

We then headed up several switchbacks which amount to the only elevation change on the hike. Once above the falls the trail follows the edge of a steep cliff offering views of the falls below. A short ways further brought us to the canyon that holds the Upper Falls.

Upper Mccloud Falls

The vantage point of the Upper Falls is not quite as good as the others. There are a couple of sketchy use trails leading down the very steep bank to the river below that might offer better views, but today we kept to the main trail. Because the Mccloud River Road Loop has spurs leading to all of the Falls it brings easy access to cars and non-hikers, therefore the trail segments between the Falls are the most secluded.

We observed the Upper Falls for a while before moving up river just a bit to stop for lunch. We found a nice location along the Mccloud to have a picnic.

View of Mccloud River From Lunch Spot

Lunch Spot

The surrounding area was covered with volcanic rocks and signs of old lava flows. While eating lunch the chipmunks were relentless and bold with there attempt at a free meal. It actually became quite bothersome as they were obviously accustomed to humans and would not let up.

Golden-Mantled Ground Squirrel

The Mccloud River Trail continues for another 13.4 miles to the Algoma Campground, however, we retraced our steps to the car stopping again at all of the points of interest.

Once at the car we drove up the Mccloud River Rd. to the Upper Falls Parking Lot near our lunch spot. Sarah rested in the car while I went on a mountain bike ride on the Mccloud River Trail. I rode up river along a beautiful singletrack trail. The beginning of the trail starts off bumpy and technical with one mean rock garden in particular. I soon came to Lakin Dam.

Lakin Dam

From here the trail gets less technical yet softer and it takes a little extra effort to keep the wheels turning. I crossed a couple of forest service roads and continued to a wooden viewing platform along the river.

Viewing Platform

I rode a little ways further down the singletrack before turning back. On my way back as I was riding along the river I heard some splashing noises. I got off my bike expecting to see some birds but instead saw several river otters playing around.

River Otters

It didn’t take long for me to ride back to the parking lot where Sarah was waiting. From there we drove back to our cabin at Cave Springs and BBQ’d before going to sleep.

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