San Francisco article about McCloud tourism

by Shasta Cascade on July 24, 2007

San Francisco Chronicle
Thursday, July 5, 2007

SPLENDOR IN SHADOW OF SHASTA
McCloud: Take a few days to allow region’s fishing, hiking, trains and resorts to restore your soul

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/07/05/NSG0GQQFQL1.DTL&hw=McCloud&sn=001&sc=1000

McCloud is the kind of place where you can fall in love. It can happen many times over, all summer long. It might happen on the upper McCloud River at Middle Falls, one of the prettiest waterfalls in Northern California. Or it can happen on the Shasta Sunset Dinner Train. Or on the walk down hidden, pristine Squaw Valley Creek, fly-fishing for wild rainbow trout on the lower McCloud River or staying at the restored historic McCloud Hotel.

McCloud, once a fading town trying to survive the post-timber era, has become known across America for its renowned dinner train and wild rainbow trout. The dinner train has been featured on national travel shows, the latest on the Fine Living Network, and the McCloud-strain rainbow trout, which provided stock for the first trout in New Zealand, Chile and Argentina, has inspired several national magazine stories.

This is a great three-day getaway. For most Bay Area residents, it’s a little too far for a weekend. McCloud is on the southeast flank of Mount Shasta in Siskiyou County. Here’s how to make it work.

McCloud Falls: Three gorgeous waterfalls are on the Upper McCloud River about 5 miles from town. Middle Falls is the crown jewel, a gorgeous curtain-style free fall, 100 feet wide and 50 feet tall. You can drive to an overlook of Middle Falls, or better yet, from the trailhead at Fowler’s Camp, and walk a flat mile to the base of the plunge pool. Just above Middle Falls is Upper Falls (you can drive to it), a stairstep falls set in a narrow, rocky gorge. Just downstream from Fowlers’ Camp is Lower Falls (you can drive to it too), a 10-foot chute-style fall into a large basin. Though the water is chilly, this is a great swimming hole with a jump for youngsters.

How to get there: From McCloud, take Highway 89 north for 5 miles to the signed turnoff for Fowler’s Campground. Turn right and drive 1 mile to a fork. Turn left and drive through Fowler’s Campground to the Middle Falls Trailhead (across from the restroom) and walk 1 mile. To see Lower Falls, turn right at the fork and drive 1 mile to the parking area. (530) 964-2184.

Shasta Sunset Dinner Train: The train runs from McCloud to the town of Mount Shasta and back, a three-hour trip, 6 to 9 p.m. It features forest views, hidden canyons, ridge grades and sweeping curves. In the process, you eat dinner in a vintage high-end dining car. Everything is elegant, low-key and spectacular. This is like being in a time machine for the evening. The staging area is directly across from the McCloud Hotel. $89.95. Excursion Trains, 4 to 5 p.m., are $12 adult, $8 younger than 12. (800) 733-2141. www.shastasunset.com.

Squaw Valley Creek: My favorite hike in the McCloud River starts at the PCT Trailhead on Squaw Valley Creek, about 6 miles south of town. From the parking area, you drop down to Squaw Valley Creek, a beautiful trout stream in a gorge, and hike downstream a half mile to a junction. Do not turn left across the bridge or right up the hill (on the PCT). Continue straight along the river. The payoff comes 2.5 miles out at a pretty chutelike waterfall where water ouzels nest. An ideal site for a picnic is across from the falls, about 20 feet below the trail. (530) 964-2184, www.fs.fed.us/r5.

Lower McCloud fly-fishing: The Lower McCloud River is one of the West’s most beautiful rivers. In a section managed by the Nature Conservancy, emerald water flows over boulders and into pools and gorges. A trail provides access to 2.5 miles of river where a quota of 10 anglers at a time is enforced. The best results here are gained by adept fly-fishers who use weighted nymphs and fish pocket water. Best patterns: Prince nymph and copper John. At times there can be excellent hatches and a surface rise in the last two hours of light.

Fishing reservations: Nature Conservancy, (415) 777-0487. Guides: Jack Trout Flyfishing, (530) 926-4540, www.jacktrout.com or www.mtshasta.com; Ted Fay Fly Shop, Dunsmuir, (530) 235-2969, www.tedfay.com; Rick Cox, McCloud Flyfishing Adventures, (530) 964-2533; Wayne Eng Flyfishing, (530) 235-4018, www.wayneengflyfishing.com.

McCloud Hotel: This is one of the prettiest hotels in Northern California. It has been restored to look like the finest from 1910. The places sparkles both inside and out, yet retains the vintage old-school feel. Unlike the B&Bs and hotels in the town of Mount Shasta and Dunsmuir, which get noise from passing trains, it’s quiet and still here at night. Rates $120 to $235 per night for two. Reservations at (800) 964-2823, information at (530) 964-2822 or www.mccloudhotel.com.

Other lodging: www.shastasunset.com — click on “accommodations.”

Camping: Fowler’s Camp on upper McCloud River within short walking distance of lower McCloud Falls and Middle Falls; McCloud Ranger District, Shasta-Trinity National Forest, (530) 964-2184 or www.fs.fed.us/r5.

Getting there: From Redding, take Interstate 5 north for 56 miles to the exit for McCloud/Reno-Highway 89. Bear right on Highway 89 and drive 11 miles to McCloud at a flashing light. Turn left into McCloud.

Driving time: 5 1/2 hours from San Francisco.

Contacts: Siskiyou County Visitors Bureau, (530) 926-3850 or www.visitsiskiyou.org.

Tom Stienstra, tstienstra@sfchronicle.com

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/07/05/NSG0GQQFQL1.DTL

This article appeared on page G – 38 of the San Francisco Chronicle
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