• Activities:

    Chillin, Camping, Photography, Swimming, Hiking

  • Skill Level:


  • Season:

    Year Round

  • Trail Type:


  • RT Distance:

    1.5 Miles

Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Picnic Area
Cliff Jumping
Swimming Hole

Beautiful waterfall and swimming hole 4 hours north of San Francisco. This is a great spot for photography or picnicking. The Waterfall is 50 feet high and 80 feet across.

Just 4 hours north of San Francisco, McCloud Falls offers a quick hike and swimming hole for those looking for something less crowded than Burney Falls. McCloud Falls has 3 tiers, but the middle section offers the best views by far.

To get here, park at the Fowlers Campground which is roughly 5 miles east of the town of McCloud. Follow signs for the Lower McCloud Falls picnic area, veering right on the road.

From the parking lot, it's an easy 1.5 miles on a paved trail. There will be a sign along the trail when you're about .5 miles away from the overlook. Once there, you can choose to admire it from afar, or climb down the hill to get up close and personal. Many choose to take a swim or jump into the chilly water, while others eat their packed lunch on the rocks while taking in the falls. Once you're done, continue along the trail towards Upper Falls, or head back out the way you came to get back to the parking lot.

Pick up food nearby at Mountain Star Cafe in McCloud. They'll wrap up sandwiches or wraps for your picnic. 

Pack List

  • Swimsuit
  • Towel
  • Lunch or snacks
  • Camera
  • Tripod
  • ND filters
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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Overall rating: 

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We stopped here quickly on the last day of our week long northern California road trip last June. Falls had a really good flow and we had the place all to ourselves at about 8 am on a Friday morning.

10 months ago
10 months ago

My girlfriend and I made quick stop here on our drive to Crater Lake. The parking lot is easy to find and the trail is pretty quick down to the swimming pool. Even on a crowded summer day the area is large enough to find a rock to perch on top of and dry off in the sun after swimming in the frigid water.

12 months ago
12 months ago

This is a great secluded campground, especially beautiful in the fall where the leaves are red and golden. Not crowded in the least bit, but better visit quick, that's certain to change quickly.

about 1 year ago
about 1 year ago

Great waterfall and swimming hole with minimal effort required. Definitely bring your camera!

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

Be careful in winter as the trail is steep!

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

We hiked this on 2/13/16 and it was very snowy! We just about managed it in trainers although it was a little slippery in places! We hiked to lower falls first, then middle falls, and then upper falls and back along the road to the car. It was about 6 miles altogether and well worth it. If you're limited on time just do middle falls - it was incredible! When you park you need to head through the campground to the trail - it may be more clear without 3ft of snow but it took us a bit of time to find where we were going!

about 2 years ago
about 2 years ago

Seldom are we rewarded with such amazing scenery with so little work. Easy hike. I went in late October to see the fall colors and had the campground, trail, and falls all to myself.

about 2 years ago
about 2 years ago

Great place to hang out, swim around, and jump at! Tried helping a pal put up a first ascent of the wall to the right of the falls but wasn't able to - the rock was crazy loose.

over 2 years ago
over 2 years ago

Lisa Bao

Photographer based out of San Francisco, CA. Focusing on travel and landscapes, my aim is to inspire others to get outside and connect with their own adventures.

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