A McCloud River Falls Trail Hike Instead of an Open House

Adam and Elizabeth Middle FallsThis is a bad day to hold an open house in Sacramento but it’s a perfect day to hike the McCloud River Falls Trail around Mt. Shasta in Northern California. Actually, there are at least 3 times during the year that are not recommended for holding an open house: 4th of July, Labor Day and Christmas. I am not sure why Memorial Day Weekend is not included in that bunch. In any case, it feels a little bit weird not to be focusing on open houses today.

The McCloud River Falls Trail is a popular and easy hike, a little over 3 miles round trip. You’ll encounter 3 distinct waterfalls. We entered the area at Shasta Trinity yesterday and spotted the long row of cars parked on both sides of the dusty road, where I managed to gouge my ankle by carelessly brushing against a broken manzanita branch. I could not believe I had injured myself and we weren’t even on the trail yet.

The lower falls at the McCloud River Falls Trail is located very close to the parking lot, and there were lots of families lounging about on the rocks, which didn’t look all that comfortable to me, and other brave souls were swimming. A sign nearby said this is where native peoples noted centuries ago that the salmon turned back.

Salmon swimming upstream to spawn is one of those things that I never really believed until I saw it with my own eyes. It sounds so unreal, not only that fish can swim against the current but that they can climb waterfalls, but they most certainly can. We saw them at the fish ladders in Ketchikan last year. The sad part is some don’t make it. It’s a remarkable sight and something everybody should experience at least once in their lives.

Middle Falls Panoramic

Kids jumping Middle Falls, McCloud River

Kids jumping Middle Falls, McCloud River

When we reached the McCloud River Falls Trail Middle Falls, about a half mile up the trail from the Lower Falls, it was a spectacular surprise. Rows upon rows of water fall from 100-feet heights over moss covered rocks, so of course a few crazy teenagers elected to jump from that height into the pool below. People from all over the world come to this spot, and we encountered many from a wide variety of countries on the trail. Everybody seemed so respectful of others, kept their dogs leashed and pulled to the side; those coming down let you pass coming up, not at all like the crowds we’ve run across at Yosemite.

At the McCloud River Falls Trail Upper Falls, we watched from a distance as a couple lowered a long rope down the face of the falls. Wondering what they were doing, we approached, but we were so quiet I was worried we’d freak out the guy and startle him. Didn’t want anybody falling off the cliff on our account. But by the time we reached them, the woman had already descended and we spotted her swimming toward shore. Her husband said they routinely travel down the face of waterfalls; this adventure was her birthday present to herself.

I applaud that kind of effort, especially since it differs from my own. Faced with crawling down a waterfall or lying on the beach in Maui, I know which one I picked. The sign nearby says there are salmon in the waters at this point at Upper Falls. So you just know they had to jump up not only the Lower Falls but also the Middle Falls.

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