McCloud River Trail 6-24-24

Photos by Randy and Rich

Ashland Hiking Home

Fifteen hikers gathered from across the AHG from Monday's regulars to new or returning members and from Friday Mods and Friday WW members. We met at Rite Aid for an 8:00 AM start to California. It was a clear blue day with no smoke in sight.

We were heading to the McCloud River Trail to see the three waterfalls. About half of our group had not seen the falls on this hike that was introduced to the Monday group last year. We arrived at the McCloud River parking at 9:45 ready to hike after applying sunscreen. The weather was in the 70s at the start.

The Lower Fall is just a short walk from parking and can be viewed from an observation deck. It cascades out of a narrow channel created by old lava flows on both sides of the volcanic canyon that the river flows through. From the deck, we headed downstairs to the McCloud River Trail that's paved while in the campground areas. We saw anglers, swimmers, and divers along the river. The anglers were fishing for trout, although if they caught a Red Band Trout unique to the river that might be a catch and release.

Indian Rhubarb, with its big green leaves, was thick along both sides of the McCloud and spaced along the trail were blue Azure Penstemons.

The trail followed the river through shady forests until we arrived at the Middle Falls, the biggest attraction on the river. Middle Falls spreads across the river and drops at least 30 feet into pools fit for swimming while creating a mist that can at times cool hikers. We stayed here awhile for the view and to get our group shot in front of the falls.

Then the trail starts up the canyon wall and gains most of the hike's 300 feet. From above you can look down on Middle Falls and then continue to Upper Falls.

The Upper Falls is in an old volcanic gorge with several breakwater cascades before it jets out and drops down to the river.

We decided to continue on to Lakin Dam and Reservoir to add some extra steps. There we found shade for lunch while viewing and listening to the water pouring over the dam.

Our up and back on the river was 5.4 miles and since it had warmed into the 80s we stopped for refreshments in the town of McCloud on our way home.

We were back in Ashland by 4 pm.

Happy Trails,
Rich