It’s especially lovely in the late spring and early summer, when the dogwood trees and wildflowers are blooming.
Meeting Up With Friends
Making our way back to Ashland in mid-June from the wilds of Nevada—and completing our first year on the road—we stopped for several days on the McCloud to ease back into the orbit of our hometown. Our dear friends Leslie and Steve—with whom we’ve shared lots of camping and other adventures over the past couple of decades, joined us.
We hiked the trails along the river, biked, hung out around the campfire and played music, ate great meals, and caught up on the last year. And as it often is with very good friends, we picked up right where we left off.
A Local Treasure
The McCloud River is one of those spots known mostly to locals. If you’re traveling on I-5 (and if you ever travel through California, you most likely will), and are willing to take a short detour off of the interstate, you can enjoy the crystal clear McCloud River, named as one of the “aquatic jewels” of California by the Nature Conservancy.
The water is chilly but swimmable in the summer. There are 12 miles of beautiful trails lush with dogwood, Douglas fir, incense cedar, ponderosa pine, and wild rose. And three gorgeous waterfalls decorate a 3.8-mile stretch of riverside trail beginning at Lower Falls with a gentle climb to Middle Falls, and then a steep climb to the Upper Falls. It’s a beautiful trail, and one we never tire of hiking.
There’s great biking, too, along the McCloud River Loop, a 10-mile section of little-traveled road that provides access points to the trail—and scenic overlooks—for Middle Falls and Upper Falls. In the distance, Mount Shasta reigns over the landscape.
About The Campground
There are two developed Forest Service campgrounds on the Upper McCloud River. Although Fowler’s Campground is a favorite with many people because of its proximity to the Lower Falls, we’ve decided that we prefer Cattle Camp, which despite its name, is a very pretty campground with spacious sites. There are no water or electric hookups, but water is available in the campground. And because it’s Forest Service, the price is only $15 a night ($7.50 for Golden Age pass holders).
wow. I have seen Burney Falls, I have a friend who lives in Burney, but don’t remember these falls! Will be planning a trip to Cattle Camp soon. Just a hop and a skip over the mountain from us in Rocky Point Oregon…in fact, I get to be in your sweet home town in September for “Into the Woods” I am so excited about that one.
Thanks for commenting, Sue! Looks like we’re neighbors. :-) We made a day trip over to Rocky Point last month while we were in Ashland — it’s one of our favorite places to kayak. We’ll be returning to Ashland in October, and “Into The Woods” is one of the plays I’d love to see. Hope you enjoy Cattle Camp and the McCloud!
What a lovely spot Laurel. We must have passed quite close to there as we avoid I5 whenever we can. You used one phrase I didn’t understand – chilly but swimmable! ?
It really is a beautiful spot, Carol. Haha, yes, the water is chilly, but it feels really good when the days heat up!
What a beautiful park! It has it all…hiking, biking, waterfalls, and wildflowers. Glad you had a great time catching up with friends. I’ve never heard of Indian Rhubarb. Those are major huge pine cones.
It does have many of the elements that we enjoy, Pam. Now if it also had kayaking and hot springs — and a good coffee shop at the end of the trail — we might still be there….
Wow! Beautiful area and great pix!
Thanks, sounds like your trip is going splendidly! Hope to see you in Ashland. :-)
Thanks to so many wonderful bloggers we are always learning of new little gems to explore. Thanks for sharing this with us Laurel. It has so much of what we enjoy. I have bookmarked it for the next time we are in Northern Cal.
Isn’t it fun that we all can share the places we discover? I think you’ll enjoy the McCloud, LuAnn.
Hi, thanks for the campground tips at McCloud Falls..I’ve always zipped through the area, not knowing where to stop until I got farther up 97.
David, this is a great place to know about. Hope you enjoy it!
Sounds and looks like a great place to spend some time. You were there in June it seems. Is that the best time to be there? Beautiful pictures as always. I take it those HUGE pine cones, love that picture, belong to the ponderosa? Ponderous pine cones? THREE waterfalls, sign me up.
Uh-oh, my photo editor was sleeping when I posted and he just informed me that those are sugar pine cones, not ponderosa cones. This is a place you and David would for sure enjoy. And yes, we were there in mid-June, but it’s beautiful from late spring into early fall.
Never heard of this gem until now and the secret is out, we will be there, Laurel.
You will love it, MonaLiza!