McCloud Falls is a three tiered waterfall that you can hike or drive to easily during the summer. During the winter, however, the road is not plowed, and these waterfalls are only accessible via snowshoe. This adds a few miles to get to each of the falls, but it also makes for an amazing and almost solitary experience hiking to these fantastic waterfalls. I only went to the middle falls on this trip (which is my favorite of the three), but I didn’t see a single person on my entire hike there. It was such a cool experience, and here is all the information.
- 3.5 miles round trip
- 200 feet of elevation to get from the overlook to the base of the falls
- You can rent snowshoes at Clearwater Cafe which is a coffee shop and outdoor store for $30 (2019 price)
- This information was from my hike in 2019
- Read about all of my favorite California waterfalls here
Here is a video I made of the trip.
If you need to rent snowshoes, head to Clearwater Cafe before heading out of McCloud. From the town of McCloud, it is about 10 minutes’ drive east to get to where you park for the falls. I would recommend putting McCloud Falls into Google Maps before you lose service so you can get to the parking area, and you can use the map to see where you are at on the trail as well.
After parking in the plowed pullout, I put on my snowshoes and headed out.
For basically this entire hike, you will just be walking the road, which is relatively flat and has signs you can follow.
After about a half mile, you will reach a split in the road, one way goes to lower falls, and the other goes to middle and upper falls. Lower is the closest, so if you are looking for the shortest hike, that is the best bet. I went to the left though, towards Middle Falls.
From here, it is almost exactly a mile walking along the road to get to where you would turn into the parking lot in the summer.
I walked into the snow covered parking lot then headed to the overlook first.
The overlook provided a fantastic view of the waterfall with snow all around it, and I was blown away by how beautiful it was in the winter.
I then followed the trail (not as easy in the winter but I had a GPS) and made my way down to the base of the falls.
I should note that this is a little sketchy as there are a few parts of the trail that are pretty narrow, but if you take your time and have snowshoes, you should be OK.
When you get to the bottom, you will be greeted by one of the area’s best waterfalls. It was insanely impressive when I went as there was snow on the rocks and a ton of water flowing through the falls.
The whole area was getting misted with a large amount of water flowing through Middle Falls, but I spent a good 20 minutes just walking around and taking it all in from the different angles.
Once I was done, I started the hike back up to the overlook to connect with the road and head back out to my car. I was in a rush as I had to get back to the airport, but if you have more time, you can add to your hike and visit either upper or lower falls as well.
Let me know what you think in the comments!