The upper McCloud River offers spectacular waterfalls, great fishing, and shady camping and picnicking spots under towering pine trees. With easy access from Highway 89, the upper McCloud offers a wide variety of outdoor recreation opportunities. The Forest Service acquired 13 miles of this river in 1989 through a land exchange with the Champion timber company. The 2,600 acre river corridor had long been a Forest Service priority for acquisition because of its exceptional recreational and scenic qualities. This segment of the river is considered eligible by the Forest Service for National Wild & Scenic River status due to its free flowing character and outstanding scenic, geological, and fishery values.
The upper McCloud is perhaps best known for its three spectacular waterfalls - unimaginatively dubbed Upper, Middle, and Lower Falls. Each waterfall has its own unique attributes, but all provide an exhilarating sight for hikers and anglers. A short trail extends upstream and downstream from Fowler Campground and provides easy access to the waterfalls. This segment of the river is also popular with anglers, although upstream of the falls, the river provides habitat for the rare McCloud redband trout in two small triburaries closed to fishing.
The 13 miles of the upper McCloud offers a wide variety of camping and picnicking opportunities. Developed sites with tables and toilets are available at Fowler Camp, Algoma Campground, and Cattle Camp. Undeveloped dispersed camping is available at Bigelow Bridge, Camp 4, Fourmile Flat, Nitwit Camp, and Skunk Hollow. Picnic facilities are available at many of these sites, as well as Lakin Dam, and Upper and Lower Falls. Wildlife can often be viewed in the early morning and evening hours in the river-side meadows at Bigelow and Algoma.
Just downstream from Lower Falls at Pine Tree Hollow is the put-in site for kayakers and rafters for the class III whitewater run past Big Springs and the Hearst Family estate at Wyntoon to the McCloud reservoir. The flow of the river is substantially augmented by Big Springs, which is fed by glacial melt from Mt. Shasta, turning the river a remarkable aquamarine blue. But since the entire river downstream of the put-in site at Pine Tree Hollow is private land, the only way to enjoy this phenomenon is to float the river. Boaters running this segment should respect private property rights and avoid trespassing on private land.
How To Get There
The upper McCloud River recreation area is 15 miles east of Interstate 5 and the town of Mt. Shasta on Highway 89. From Interstate 5, proceed east on Highway 89. Drive 10 miles to the town of McCloud and then proceed another five miles on Hwy 89. Look for signs directing you to Forest Service campgrounds and the upper McCloud River.
Recreation And Visitor Information
For information concerning recreation opportunities on the upper McCloud River, contact the Forest Service McCloud Ranger Station at (530) 964-2184.