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).