McCloud River Falls, Shasta-Trinity National Forest


What? : The McCloud River has three impressive waterfalls along a short river gorge section, you can enjoy the waterfalls viewpoints or hike the 4 miles trail that is connecting all 3 waterfalls.

This location is part of my "North California Waterfall Loop" road-trip suggestion.

Where? : 5 miles east of McCloud on highway 89, driving east and you will see a Forest Service sign on the left hand side of highway, turn right onto the McCloud River Loop Road at this sign.

Google Map Link


When? : Year round.


Due note 1: This is not a state park but rather part of the Shasta Trinity National Forest, no entrance fees are needed for a day use.


Due note 2: The middle waterfall is by far the most impressive waterfall so do not miss visiting this waterfall. Even if you are coming for a short visit, it is highly recommended to hike to the bottom of the Middle Waterfall and see the waterfall up-close.


Due note 3: Swimmers, and Jumpers please note: there are few popular jumping spots at this this location, they can be extremely dangerous, always exercise caution and good judgement before the jump.


Due note 4: Picnic areas are located near Upper and Lower Falls. There is also a campground (fee) midway between Lower and Middle Falls.


Due note 5: You can combine this park visit with several other excellent nearby destinations, see my Redding and Shasta Waterfalls Loop Road Trip blog


My thoughts: This is a very popular location so it can be crowded. I prefer visiting here offseason, where there are much fewer other visitors. Fall is perfect for yellow colors trees. The waterfalls are impressive, especially the Middle one, and the hike along the river connecting all 3 waterfalls is highly recommended.


The visit:


You have 2 visit options:

1.      Park at one of the waterfalls parking-lot (I recommend to park at the lower waterfall) and hike along the river to see all 3 waterfalls, this will be a fun 4-mile out and back hike.

2.      Park your car near every waterfall and have a short hike to see the 3 waterfalls.


Hiking from lower waterfall to the upper waterfall and back:

Unless pressed for time, the whole trail is very scenic and worth doing.

This is relatively easy out and back 4 miles hike that will take you along the river to see all 3 waterfalls.

From the Lower Falls parking lot, take the paved path to the Lower Falls viewing spot (few hundred feet from the parking) and down to the waterfall. At the 15-foot narrow falls the river pours over a large basalt block into a deep pool.

Access in and out of the swimming pool is from the far side of the river.

From Lower Falls, continue hiking upstream, pass Fowler Campground, and from here additional 0.7 miles will take you Middle Falls base.

From the base of the Middle Falls, you have the most impressive view of the waterfalls, here you can also access and swim in the pool.

The Middle Falls of the McCloud River is far more impressive than the other two and it is the most picturesque of the three falls.

The Middle Falls is about 50 feet high and 100 feet across, here the river pours over in a broad cliff, about two thirds of the way across the waterfall there is a big rock that split the waterfall into two sections.

From the base of Middle waterfall, the trail climbs a series of moderate switch backs to the overlook above. The climb out of the canyon is the only uphill section on the entire trail. From the top of the stairs the trail continues along the canyon rim to a great vista above the falls.

This high viewpoint above the waterfall can be accessed from a nearby car parking lot.

From the middle fall viewpoint, the trail continues along the canyon rim to Upper Falls overlook.

There is no official trail that leads down to the base of Upper Falls.

Keep walking all the way to the Upper fall viewpoints paved section.

Upper Falls is an impressive 25 feet waterfall going out at the middle of high basalt wall, creating a “ponytail” like waterfall.

This upper waterfall viewpoint can be accessed from a nearby car parking lot.

From this point you will need to turn around and hike back all the way down to your starting point.


All three waterfalls along this section of the McCloud River have their own parking lot and can be easily accessed directly with a very short walking distance.

Drive according to signs to each waterfall parking and walk to the nearby fall viewpoint.