McCloud River Trail - June 23, 2012
Narration and pictures by Diane Rannow

After the long and difficult hike to Castle Crags yesterday, everyone wanted to do something a little easier today.  Rheo stopped at the Ranger Station to see what they recommended.  Armed with directions and a map, we made our way to the McCloud River Trail.  This delightful trail follows the McCloud River passing at least three waterfalls along the way.  As with the North Umpqua Trail, the McCloud River Trail goes for miles.  We'll do a round trip of 6 to 8 miles.

Except for us, the parking lot is almost empty.  Just a little way from the parking area we all have to stop and take a look from the viewpoint for Lower Falls.  Then it's down the stairs and on toward Fowler's Camp.  For the most part, this is a relatively level, civilized trail.  There are some stairs here and there, a cliff edge and a couple of places where the trail isn't very obvious when it crosses some sand and rock flats.  All you have to do is follow the river.  This is an in and back hike and I am thankful to go at my own speed even if it means hiking by myself most of the time.  In just over a mile, we get to the bottom of Middle Falls.  Then its up the ridge for a section of trail that literally hugs the cliff.  It has a railing to keep small children and photographers safe.  There's a fabulous view down on Middle Falls from up here. Wildflowers are scattered along the way.


The trail continues through a mixture of open areas, rocky areas and wooded areas.  Upper Falls is maybe 3/4 mile past Middle Falls.  We've been hiking in sunshine, but it is starting to get grey.  By the time I get to Lakin Dam in another mile, it's starting to drizzle.  Pressing on to a nearby picnic area, I met up with the rest of the group coming back.  The rain had convinced them to turn around.

After lunch, the sun was back out and we continued to enjoy the river as we returned the way we came.  By the time we got back to the Middle Falls, there were people everywhere.  I guess this is where everyone goes on a sunny weekend.  When we got back to the parking area, there was a line of cars waiting like vultures for our spaces.

A beautiful day and a nice contrast to yesterday.

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