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4 Reasons Why This Small Mountain Town Should Be On Your Bucket List

Otherworldly waterfalls, panoramic views, and a whole lot of adventures lurk on the southern slope of Mount Shasta.

By: Lindsay Sanders + Save to a List

Nestled just 10 miles east of Mount Shasta, California is McCloud, a small, historic mill town with a vibrant history and a myriad of outdoor adventures suitable for any season. What the town lacks in population (approx. 1,100) it makes up for in natural wonders. Whether you’re a thrill-seeker, cultural explorer, or nature enthusiast, here are four reasons why this quaint little town should be on your bucket list. 

1. Unique Photography Opportunities  
Imagine this: Snowcapped, prodigious, Mount Shasta nestled in the backdrop of a quiet town. Miles of rolling hills embroidered with a lush coniferous forest. Emerald waterfalls decorated with volcanic rocks and rich vegetation. Scintillating stars reflecting off of Lake McCloud. This place is a photographer's dream! 

TIP: McCloud isn’t just adorable and photogenic, it’s also super interesting! Learn about its history at the Heritage Junction Museum.

Photo: Lindsay Sanders

2. The McCloud Falls
You can’t visit McCloud without experiencing the majestic McCloud Falls. Whether you’re looking to photograph something beautiful, jump off a waterfall, or sunbathe, these three-tier waterfalls are a must-see. Summer is the most popular time to visit: the weather is amazing and you can camp, hike, swim, and fish all within a couple mile radius. My favorite “hike” (it’s more of a nature stroll) is from the lower falls to the middle falls. The path starts at the lower falls and lines the river upstream for about one mile until you reach the base of the middle falls. You’ll hear the roaring of the falls long before you arrive, and as you inch closer, the falls start to peek through the lush forest. It’s truly otherworldly, like something out of Narnia.

TIP: Stop by the Main Street Candy Store to get homemade sandwiches and sweets for a picnic.

Photo: Lindsay Sanders / Middle McCloud Falls in the winter

Photo: Lindsay Sanders / Lower McCloud Falls

3. Fowlers Campground

There’s nothing like camping on a warm summer night in McCloud. The pristine mountain skies make way for stargazing and great nighttime photography. While the area boasts many wonderful campgrounds, my personal favorite is Fowlers Camp because it’s situated along the McCloud River, only a short hike from the McCloud Falls. Fowlers has 39 sites with tables, fire-rings, toilets, and piped drinking water, all for only $15/night. If you’re looking for a more secluded experience, check out the Ah-Di-Na campground at Lake McCloud.

TIP: Plan your trip in May or July so you can enjoy the annual Mushroom Festival or compete in an axe throwing contest at the Lumberjack Fiesta!

Photo: Lindsay Sanders / Lower Falls, a short walk to Fowlers Campground

4. Any Winter Adventure You Can Imagine
McCloud is a mecca for winter activities: snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, fishing -- you name it! The Pilgrim Creek Snowmobile Park has a warming hut and miles of trails for your use. You can even rent snowshoes and other outdoor gear in town at McCloud Outdoors and Gear Exchange. And if you want to take to the slopes, the Mount Shasta Ski Park is only a short ten minute drive down Highway 89. 

TIP: End your day with a delicious handcrafted beer and freshly baked pizza at Siskiyou Brew Works

Photo: Lindsay Sanders

Well, what are you waiting for? Head out to the mountains! And feel free to shoot me a note for more McCloud travel tips!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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