Hike to Mossbrae Falls

2 miles  - Out-and-Back Trail

Added by Mark Handy

Mossbrae Falls is considered one of the most scenic waterfalls in California. And for good reason. There are multiple layers of water that come from this spring-fed waterfall.

Disclaimer: Hiking to the falls is trespassing. Fines can be as much as $300. If you choose to hike to the falls, you're doing so at your own risk so please be cautious and cognizant of your surroundings.

If you live anywhere near Northern California or Southern Oregon, you may have heard about Mossbrae Falls, which is located in the very scenic area of the Shasta Cascade region in California. The area is pristine and well worth the hassle of getting here.

But a little background: about four years ago a woman was hit by a train when she was making her way to the Falls with her family. Local authorities and Union Pacific officials immediately started cracking down on those who travel to Mossbrae Falls along the live train tracks. Those who parked their cars in the Shasta Retreat -- a small cabin retreat along the Sacramento River -- got cited as well. In other words, it has -- theoretically -- become a lot more difficult to get to Mossbrae Falls.

Having said that, I recently made the trip into Mossbrae Falls with no trouble at all. What's more, while I was traveling along the train tracks, a train did come by. I waved to the engineer, who waved back. Once I got to the Falls, I saw several other people, including a local man who was doing some fly fishing.

Here's what he told me about the "no trespassing" rules that abound in the area. First, there are two places where trespassing will occur. One, as you walk through the Shasta Retreat cabin site and then when you walk along the land owned and operated by Union Pacific Railroad.

The local told me that the Shasta Retreat does not care about those walking down the road in the middle of its property. It does care about those who park there, though. Thus, you should park your vehicle some place smart on the north side of Dunsmuir Avenue. Stay on the public streets, in other words. Second, you're trespassing when you walk along the railroad tracks. This is a nearly one-mile hike along the tracks. I did not find it dangerous at all. If you're smart, and stay on the east side of the tracks, you are perfectly fine. If you decide to walk on the west side of the tracks, you are asking for all kinds of trouble. I have no idea why anyone would walk on that side, by the way, given that the east side offers so much room to safely walk. Anyhow, I digress. The point is this: you are trespassing when you go to Mossbrae Falls. So long as you don't park in the Shasta Retreat, you should be perfectly fine, though, when you make this hike. Union Pacific appears to have relaxed their position in regard to trespassers.

The most difficult part of visiting Mossbrae Falls seems to be a dearth of clear, concise directions to get there. Therefore, I am going to present those here so that it's not such a mystery. Here is the step by step directions:

Go to the north end of Dunsmuir Avenue, near Scarlet Way. Find a place to park. Once you get on foot, your trip to Mossbrae Falls is about 1.2 miles. The first street you walk down is Scarlet Way, which is located in the Shasta Retreat. You'll see a sign at the top of the hill at Dunsmuir Avenue and Scarlet Way. Walk down the road. At the bottom, the road turns into Cave Avenue. Veer right at that point and keep walking. After you veer right, you'll walk for about 100 yards, at which point you will see a small bridge that leads to the railroad tracks. Once you get to the tracks, make a right and stay on the east side of the tracks (the right side), which is closest to the Sacramento River that you'll be walking along. You'll be moving north at this point. Continue walking up the tracks until you get slightly past mile marker 3/4. There you will find a bridge. Do not cross it. Instead, right before the bridge, look to your right. There will be several trails that take you into Mossbrae Falls. Additionally, there is currently a big boulder near the tracks that has the words "Mossbrae Falls" spray painted on it. There is a spray-painted arrow on the rock, pointing to the river. The hike from the tracks to the falls is about 40 yards.

Once you arrive at Mossbrae Falls, you'll be welcomed by a pristine location that won't disappoint. There is also a bench there that you can sit on to soak in the view. Once you're done at the Falls, you simply backtrack and make your way back to the vehicle you rode in on.

Quick note: if you do decide to take children into this area, be sure that you carry them the entire way. The rocks along the train tracks are pointy and sharp. I'd advise that you wear hiking boots or sturdy shoes that will absorb the impact from these small rocks.

Beyond that, have fun!

Coordinates:
- Mossbrae Falls: 41.242104, -122.266870

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Tags

Fishing
Photography
Hiking
River
Scenic
Waterfall

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

10/10

Was not expecting it to be that beautiful, easy “hike”

great place but beware

beautiful waterfall, the walk wasn’t too bad at all however know that if you park anywhere that has no parking signs you will 100% get a ticket. we parked just up the road from the resort at an abandoned building. on the way out there was a sheriff sitting at the entrance. luckily we didn’t get fined but just be aware that you are trespassing and it could cost you. other than that it was a great place to spend the day and the instructions here were very helpful!!

Perfect!

Pictures do not do these falls justice. Very well worth the short hike to see them. Would highly recommend to anyone!

Beautiful and short

The Mossbrea falls themselves are gorgeous! The “hike” is just walking a short distance along the railroad track, which takes you mere feet away from the falls. So as far as “hiking” is concerned, 1-star. As far as the Mossbrea Falls themselves, 5-stars. Truly unique and wonderful to behold.

Beautiful Falls.

I’ve been there twice. Both times breathtaking. The first time we heard about it and hiked down a smaller falls across the river thinking it was the right one. We then saw the railroad tracks, waded the river and walked to Mossbrae. Silly family adventures. Totally worth it.

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