Shasta-Trinity National Forest

A comfy campout with 2 to 5 mile hikes
Driving to and sleeping at a campground
Ideal for first-timers

Hiking and swimming in McCloud Falls in Shasta-Trinity National Forest

Hiking and swimming in McCloud Falls in Shasta-Trinity National Forest

Hiking and swimming in McCloud Falls in Shasta-Trinity National Forest

Hiking and swimming in McCloud Falls in Shasta-Trinity National Forest

Hiking and swimming in McCloud Falls in Shasta-Trinity National Forest

Designed by Yvonne Leow

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Last updated
March 6, 2022

Trip · 3-day camping trip

For · Friends and new campers

Vibe · Relaxing and chill

Reservations · Reserve a site at Fowlers Campground or snag a FCFS (first-come, first-serve) campsite nearby

Drive · 5 hours from SF

Ideal dates · May to October

Pets · Welcome at camp and trails

Shasta-Trinity National Forest (STNF) is the largest national forest in California! It features 2.2 million acres and over 6,200+ miles of streams and rivers. There are five wilderness areas: Castle Crags, Chanchellulla, Mount Shasta, Trinity Alps, and Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel, and more than 150 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail runs through the forest. This place is a natural wonderland that starts at 1,000 feet of elevation at Shasta Lake and tops out at Mt. Shasta at 14,179 feet. Color us impressed, aren't you? 

Official State Park Website

Directions To McCloud Falls

Main image credit: The Modern Female Hiker

Stuff to know

  • McCloud Falls is open for day use during the winter time, but nearby campgrounds are typically closed from mid-November to late-April
  • From April 2021 to 2023, dispersed camping is no longer allowed near the falls or the McCloud River Loop. Check out the map.
  • Snowshoes or skis are required during the winter!
  • There are no parking fees, but parking lots can get filled up during the summer
  • Pack your swimsuits! If you can handle the temps, you can dip into swimming holes near McCloud Falls.

Resources

Check the weather
McCloud Falls

Where to camp

Fowlers Campground

Each campsite comes with a:

  • Picnic table
  • Fire ring and grill
  • Space for up to 8 people
  • Two parking spots
  • Food storage locker
  • Restrooms (on site)

Fowlers Campground is walking distance from the waterfalls, but available campsites are often reserved months in advance. If you're willing to play by ear, there are several first-come, first-serve campgrounds that are only a 15-minute drive away from the falls. Camp 4 Group Campground, Cattle Camp Campground, and Algoma Campground are a few other options. Check out the McCloud Area Recreation Guide or the forest service website for more details.

Check-in: After 3 PM · Check-out: 2 PM

Nightly Rate: $23

Image credit: Campsite Photos

Fowlers Campground near McCloud Falls
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Itinerary

Day One

The Rustic Table Asian Kitchen
The Rustic Table Asian Kitchen. Credit: Google Images

Leave SF by 8 AM and grab lunch at The Rustic Table Asian Kitchen

  • Diners love their pho, kimchi fried rice, and short ribs!
  • Located at 2527 Victor Avenue in Redding, CA
  • Open Tuesdays to Saturdays · 11 AM to 8 PM
  • Last pit stop · Chevron - 117 Squaw Valley Road in McCloud
  • Nearest grocery store · McCloud Market - 117 Broadway Avenue in McCloud

Check in and settle in at Fowlers Campground

  • Set up camp, wander around the campground, and relax

Cook up dinner and s'mores

  • Prep dinner, s'mores, and enjoy an evening of drinking and stargazing around the campfire
In 1905, President Teddy Roosevelt designated over 1.2 million acres as the Trinity Forest Reserve, and a few months later created a separate Shasta Forest Reserve. These two areas officially became Shasta–Trinity National Forest in 1954.

Day Two

Aerial view of McCloud Falls. Credit: Discover Siskyou

Make brekkie, pack a picnic, and hike McCloud Waterfalls Trail

  • This is a 3.6 mile round-trip hike, with 314 feet of elevation gain, to Lower, Middle, and Upper McCloud Falls
  • Pack a daypack with a lunch, snacks, a book, blanket, sunscreen, sunhat, swimsuit, bug spray, and drinking water
  • There are picnic areas at Lower and Upper McCloud Falls

Enjoy lunch and the sound of rushing water

  • McCloud river was originally known as "McLeod River", after a hunter and trapper named Alexander Roderick McLeod. By the 1860s, the spelling "McCloud" was more commonly used, probably because that was the American spelling of the Scottish name, and partly to honor another California pioneer Ross McCloud.

Return to camp and chill

  • Clean up, prep a delicious meal and warm up with your favorite hot bevvie
  • Cozy up next to the campfire, roast up s'mores and soak up your last night in Shasta-Trinity National Forest
For years, The Winnemem (McCloud River) Wintu Tribe lived, fished and hunted around what is now Lower McCloud Falls

Day Three

McCloud River
McCloud River

Pack up and check out before 2pm

  • Cook up brekkie, clean up around camp, and throw away any random pieces of litter

Head home!

McCloud River Canyon carves through multiple layers of lava rock caused by Mt. Shasta's volcanic eruptions. Look out for columnar basalt, which is the result of those lava flows cooling and contracting to create cool-looking vertical fractures.

Packing List

Essential Items
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Clothing
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Personal Stuff
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Camp Kitchen
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Shared Gear
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