There are three falls within a mile and a half of each other on the McCloud River. The Falls are about 65 miles from Redding, CA heading North on I5, turning East on Highway 89, and taking the Fowler’s Campground turnoff a few miles after the quaint town of McCloud. The three McCloud River Falls are easily accessible from the road via a short walk from their perspective parking lots, or can be reached from a 3 mile round trip trail that parallels the river joining the three falls.
The Lower McCloud Falls is a swimmers paradise, and the evidence of that lives on in the summer months. This 15 foot falls sets up the perfect swimming hole. Decades ago, patrons of the falls installed a diving board, and if you look closely you will find where it was mounted. Obviously, people love to jump or dive into the frigid waters of the McCloud River from the ledge of the lower falls, and this has gone on since the McCloud River Indians enjoyed the clean water. Unfortunately, I am an older country boy from the North State, and it is quite possible that it is illegal to swim at this beautiful pool any longer. Be sure to read all regulations on the information board at the parking lot.
The Middle McCloud Falls is actually about half way between the Lower Falls and the Upper Falls, sitting fairly deep within a gorge cut by the McCloud River. The Middle Falls is roughly 70 feet wide, and 50 feet tall with a beautiful pool below. The trail switchbacks several times to a good Vista Point above the Middle Falls, and a parking lot where even a handicap person can catch a good view of the Middle Falls.
The Upper McCloud Falls is a unique cascading torrent that launches from a precipice into a large pool below. Access to the pool below is limited, and for the most part not advised due to the off trail nature of the trek. They have built a safe railed observation deck of 100 foot long torrent that precedes the river going airborne into the pool below. The Falls actually resembles water gushing from a giant hose.
Walking the trail between the three falls is fairly easy, and on our day was done with a baby in a stroller. The climb from the Middle Falls to the Middle Falls parking lot is the hardest part of the hike, but even someone not in the best of shape should manage if they take their time. The round trip of three miles from the Lower Falls parking lot at Fowler’s Campground is the way I would suggest to soak in the beauty of this natural set of wonders.