McCloud California – Waterfalls, Mill Towns and Great Camping

We are besotted with the town of McCloud.  We had never heard of it and now are a bit obsessed. 

Shasta Views From The Old Railyard in McCloud

We left San Diego with a plan to travel quickly through California and then hit a few Oregon cities we haven’t yet seen. An appointment in Junction City, Oregon, home of Winnebago West Coast Service Center gave us a short travel timeline from San Diego. A beautiful picture from Instagram of a waterfall, a longing for trees and the obsession began to reach Lassen National Forest and Burney Falls. While Lassen was off our current course McCloud was doable and also had some water.  

If you know anything about how I struggle with directions and distance you can imagine the ongoing conversations I have with Dave about trip planning. It goes something like this; “Look how pretty, I want to go there.”   Dave “That isn’t anywhere near our route.” Shannon “but it’s in Oregon and it’s sooooo pretty” Dave “Arggghhhh, ok how about this location.” Shannon, “We never go where I want to go.”  But of course in this case (as in most) Dave was right AND with a multiple day stay, I did visit Burney Falls.

A quick review of Campendium.com and we found Fowlers Campground just outside of McCloud. They have a number of first come first serve campsites and the max rig size is 30 feet.  While at 31 feet we just squeezed in and managed to get a choice site just above the river. What started as a 1 night stop quickly morphed into 6 nights.  We started at a nice private site on the backside of the camping loop and quickly moved to a riverside site when it opened up. While the river site had more traffic, the views made up for that as we pulled our chairs out to the edge of the river canyon. We found 2 other campsites in the area that allow for larger rigs; Cattle Campground is also a National Forest Campground farther up the river. McCloud RV Resort is in town and has good spacing, grass parking and walking distance to the local brewery!

Just barely fitting in McCloud Campground

We did some recon for light duty 4 wheeling on a search for wild camping sites and didn’t find much that would fit anything other than an off-road van. Lassen National Forest is better off the grid sites. 

Fowlers sits on the McCloud River just above lower falls.  A trail goes through the campground and follows the river leading to middle and upper falls.  A fun trail and lots of great photo opportunities.  The full length of the trail is just about 3 miles, an easy out and back walk. Each fall has a parking lot above, so it is possible to just see the falls and skip all the beautiful scenery in-between each fall. Additional mileage can be reached both above (a swimming hole) and below (some great fly fishing areas) the falls. 

Lower Falls on the McCloud River

Middle Falls on the McCloud River

A birds eye view of Middle Falls on McCloud River

Upper Falls McCloud River

McCloud River

The town of McCloud is an old timber town with housing originally built and maintained by the mill or rather Mother McCloud as she was referred to. When the mill closed in 1962 they sold the houses to the residents for $5,000 a piece. The houses are uniform and so cute.  We saw several different sizes of houses – the bachelor pads, the small families and the mill management.  Several were for sale for $192,000 with beautiful views of Mt. Shasta.

Mt. Shasta

There is an area with some old rail cars and a cute main street with an incredible bakery, White Mountain Cafe. There is a brewery, but we didn’t get a chance to try it. An old rail trail provides a bike trail all the way to Burney Falls. Of course, the river provides great hiking and fly fishing. 

Old Railyard in McCloud

We enjoyed a day trip over to Shasta and up the mountain for some hiking and another day trip to Burney to check out the beautiful falls. 

Burney Falls

This is an amazing area and one we plan to spend more time in. The town reminded me of old Friday Harbor I visited as a child, while Dave thought it was similar to Frisco, Colorado from years ago. I think part of the fascination is our dread of entering into the tourist madness that is now typical Bend Oregon summertime. Whatever the reason, we will be regular visitors to McCloud in the future. 

if you love small towns, falls, rail trail biking and fly fishing this is a great stopover. 

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