Last weekend while camping at Lake Siskiyou with my family we drove to McCloud River for a casual hike to see the beautiful Middle Falls. McCloud River Falls is located at the base of Mt. Shasta, a half hour drive from Lake Siskiyou and consists of a lower, middle and upper falls. We had been there several times before and knew that the middle falls is the place to linger.
The turnoff to the falls is just a few minutes beyond the town of McCloud. There is a campground and day-use parking lot which was packed with visitors. We had to park on the side of the road as the small parking lot was full but it was Labor Day weekend and to be expected.
The lower falls can be viewed a short walk from the parking lot. People used to jump into the pool created by the lower falls, climbing out the ladder installed at the edge. But on this visit the ladder had been removed so there were a few fishermen but no jumpers. Upstream people waded into the cold water to cool off.
The trail from lower falls to middle falls meanders past the campground where there is a last stop for restrooms and to fill your water bottle. It’s about a mile from the parking lot to the middle falls. The shaded trail follows next to the McCloud river in a slight incline. The trail is dusty so if you go don’t wear your favorite shoes and definitely don’t wear flipflops.
About the time we were wondering how much further we had to go the cascading falls came into view just ahead. My first reaction was,”WOW”, even though I’ve seen them several times before. There were very few people on the trail but once we arrived at the falls there was a crowd. To get close to the falls we had to navigate over and around large boulders, tree trunks and people without a definite path to follow so it took some effort. This is where enclosed shoes are a must. Eventually we found a rock to perch on and enjoyed the spectacular view of the falls. It is truly beautiful and more accessible than waterfalls I’ve been to in Hawaii.
You can swim in the pool created by the falls. The snow melt water takes your breath away and I could only stay in for a few seconds. One year I brought my wetsuit with the intention of swimming across to the other side but the freezing water was still too much for me and I immediately got out. It was refreshing though and with summer temperatures in the high 80s its worth going in at least once.
There were a couple of brave souls who jumped into the water from the 35 foot high cliff.
You can also get to the other side of the pool by walking across a fallen tree.
There is a steep but do-able trail that takes you to a view of the falls from above.
Or you can sit directly below the falls.
On this trip we didn’t walk to the Upper Falls but as I recall its a steeper climb to a less impressive experience. But it’s always worth visiting at least once to satisfy your curiosity.