McCloud, California is an ideal destination for history buffs to engage with the present and appreciate days bygone. The mill town has a rich past of timber and railroad beginnings, details well-preserved throughout the Nationally Registered Historic District. The town is also a noteworthy stop along the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway, so visitors will find all sorts of recreation, attractions and adventure in the area.
Start your exploration of the town at the Heritage Junction Museum on Main Street. Peruse over 100 years’ worth of historical artifacts, photographs and exhibits documenting McCloud’s humble start. Hit the local shops and meet the local shopkeepers, who will dazzle you with their crafts, antiques and local specialties. McCloud is situated on the southern slope of Mount Shasta, an alpine setting with an array of outdoor recreation opportunities. Wildlife viewing and stargazing are opportune all year round, while water and mountain-based activities take precedence in the summer and snow sports in the winter. Go boating, kayaking, fly fishing or rafting in the McCloud River and area lakes. Hit the Great Shasta Rail Trail, McCloud River Falls Trail or the Squaw Valley Creek Trail for a good hike. Go rock climbing on the face of Mount Shasta or spelunking in the Lava Tubes and Ice Caves nearby. If you’re planning a winter trip, check out the ski packages offered by many McCloud accommodations. Mt. Shasta Ski Park, located five miles from McCloud, has runs for skiers and snowboarders of all levels. McCloud Outdoors & Gear Exchange rents out show shoes, while Pilgrim Creek Snowmobile Park rents out snowmobile machines for riders.
To get a general lay of the land, plan a scenic drive around the upper McCloud River area. One idea for a tour loop is to start at the Fowlers Campground off Highway 89, wind along the river past various recreation sites and return back to the highway about 11 miles east of town. McCloud is also a stop along one of just 31 All American Roads in the United States—the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway. The 500-mile byway is a journey from volcano to volcano, with dramatic and diverse landscapes in between. Even if you can’t make it to all the stops, you could check out Lassen Volcanic National Park, 83 miles, or about an hour and a half away. If you prefer walking or hiking, a day trip to the McCloud Falls would include scenic trails and gorgeous waterfalls. The three falls that make up McCloud Falls are all within two river miles of each other, and feed into the McCloud River. The Lower Falls is the smallest of the bunch, popular as a swimming hole and picnic area. The Middle Falls are a bit more impressive with a drop of 50 feet and a deep pool at the base—not for the novice swimmer. The Upper Falls require a bit more of a hike, but is an exotic-looking waterfall worth a view. The lands of Siskiyou County have deep ties with the Native American peoples, history that extends back thousands of years. Stop by the Ukonom District, located on the Klamath National Forest, to see where the Native American Karuk Tribe considers the center of the earth.
Most of McCloud’s accommodations are located within the main business area of town. The McCloud Hotel, a landmark listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is considered the crème de la crème of local luxury lodging. The meticulously-restored hotel combines modern conveniences with historic ambiance to create a classy, upgraded space befitting even the most special of occasions. McCloud River Inn and McCloud Guest House are a bit smaller in scale, with less than ten rooms available for rent at each location. Stoney Brook Inn, a renovated 1922 boarding house, is better suited for larger groups, conferences and retreats. Guests of the McCloud River Mercantile and Hotel will find an assortment of stores and cafes downstairs, and amenities including heated bath floors and a full breakfast. Visitors who prefer to sleep under the stars can camp around McCloud. Ah-Di-Na, Trout Creek, Fowlers Camp and Cattle Camp Campgrounds are just a few of the options.
Drive into McCloud by taking Interstate 5, the primary north/south route through the Mt. Shasta Cascade region. McCloud is about 10 miles east off Exit 736. Airport options closest to McCloud include Redding Municipal Airport, located one hour south of town; Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport, about one-and-a-half hours north of McCloud; and the international airports in Sacramento, San Francisco or Oakland. The Greyhound Bus service is located in Weed, and an Amtrak station in Dunsmuir, fifteen minutes from McCloud. The north or southbound Coast Starlight passenger train from Dunsmuir runs between Los Angeles, California to Seattle, Washington. Private shuttles and taxis are also options: Shasta Shuttle & Taxi, Cascade Shuttle and First Class Shuttle all serve the greater McCloud area.
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