McCloud Falls: A Three Tier Waterfall

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After visiting McAurther-Burney Falls we decided to head up the 89 and see McCloud Waterfall before stopping at the Black Bear Diner for lunch. McCloud Falls was a waterfall that I had seen pictures of but had a hard time getting any real information online about it or how to get there. This waterfall pales in comparison to Burney Falls but would be an amazing waterfall in Southern California, so we were excited to check it out. The main draw of the falls is that it has three tiers, each accessible via driving or via walking one long path, we opted for the first option.

How to Get There

The falls were easy to get to once you knew where you were going, but there was almost no signs for them so you have to pay attention so that you do not miss the turn off. Off of the 89, coming from Burney Falls, you will take the 89 North and then make a left at the turn off for a campground called Fowlers. From there you will proceed about 5 miles until you reach the marked turn for upper falls. This is the first of the three tiers and the other two are down the same road, which will dump you back on Highway 89 when you are done.

Upper McCloud Falls

Upper McCloud falls was the first part of the waterfall we arrived at. After parking and a 5 minute walk along the McCloud River you will get to the viewing area. The water that makes up Upper falls travels down a small rock canyon and condenses, thus making the falls seem a lot stronger then the others.

The water simply pours out of here with power and drops about 25 feet. It was a beautiful waterfall to see, especially with the large rock face on the other side of the river; however you cannot get very close to the falls from the viewing area or the trail.

Middle McCloud Falls

The middle part of this waterfall is located in a parking lot about 5 minutes from the upper falls. After an even shorter walk you will be at the overlook for this waterfall.

You are about 150 yards above the falls, but they are pretty impressive and a lot wider then the upper falls. You can also walk down from here to the base of the falls but we did not do that, we just took it in from the overlook.

It was nice to be able to get such a good view of the falls and I liked seeing where the water came from and where it was going as it traveled the McCloud River.

Lower McCloud Falls

This is the area that everyone was at. The parking lot was even full here, while the other two lots had maybe 3 cars in them each. This was the least impressive of the three falls to me, but it was the one you could get closest too and I heard you can even swim in it during summertime, making it a great spot to hang out and relax.

There is also a bunch of picnic benches here so you can enjoy a nice lunch with the family while taking in a beautiful waterfall. I would have loved for it to be warmer so I could have jumped off the rock into the falls but it was still a great place to hang out at.

McCloud Falls are a great stop on Highway 89. The falls don’t hold the sheer beauty that Burney Falls does, but being able to see three different pieces of a waterfall without even hiking is not something you can do often. In addition, all of the parking was free and there was no entrance fee to get into the area, making it a perfect place to spend an afternoon. Check out the rest of the photos, get directions and leave a comment below.

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  • Kimster

    Thanks for sharing the beautiful pictures of the falls. We are spending a week in Dunsmeir this summer and plan to visit both falls (and hopefully take that jump you weren’t able to take). You are an amazing photographer. Will be sure to let you know how we do!

    • Josh

      No problem! Make sure to visit Burney Falls too! Thanks for the kind words about my photography too it means a lot!

  • Genevieve Kennedy

    Love the article and the pictures are beautiful! Are we able to swim in each of 3 swimming holes or only in lower McCloud Falls?

    • Josh

      No, I believe the lowest is the only one you can swim in. Thanks for the comment!

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