3 Northern California Snowshoe Hikes with a Waterfall Payoff

Brought to you by Discover Siskiyou

Lower McCloud Falls under a blanket of snow.

It’s wintertime in Northern California, possibly having you believe that it’s not the time of year to visit your favorite waterfalls. Think again. The winter provides a wonderful experience to go chasing waterfalls and if you have the right equipment, you can see them in their full glory without anyone around.

We all know that Siskiyou County has some of the best waterfall experiences around and if you can navigate them in the winter, you’re in for quite a treat. When there’s snow on the ground, which there likely will be this time of year, snowshoes are a great way to see your favorite waterfalls in a winter wonderland scenario.

If you don’t own snowshoes, the number of places that offer rentals limit your excuses for trying it out. Our favorite place to rent them in the Siskiyou area is McCloud Outdoors and Gear Exchange, located right in downtown McCloud.

Here are three beautiful snowshoeing adventures in Siskiyou County with a fantastic waterfall payoff:

Hedge Creek Falls

FLICKR/Eric Leslie

If you’re new to snowshoeing and want a beginner experience, Hedge Creek Falls is the best hike for you. The trailhead is located right off Interstate 5 in Dunsmuir and the entire hike is less than a mile roundtrip with little elevation change. The payoff at the end includes a 35-foot waterfall cascading over a 12 foot cave.

If the weather’s bad, you can hike all the way down to the waterfall and take cover in the cave with the waterfall flowing right in front of your eyes. Not only is this a great adventure in the beautiful town of Dunsmuir, but you can trek the entire hike, with time to relax, in under an hour.

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The flows of this waterfall can be slow during the summer months, but it comes alive in winter. It’s a must-see experience in Northern California.

See what it’s like to hike Hedge Creek Falls without the snow:

McCloud Falls

If you go to the three tiers of McCloud Falls in the midst of summer, you’re bound to find droves of weekend warriors looking for a sunny day to see the spectacular waterfalls and cool off in the crystal-clear waters of the McCloud River. But in the winter, if you’re brave enough to snowshoe into the area covered in snow, you’ll probably have the entire place to yourself.

Depending on the road conditions, you may be able to drive right up to the overlook of Lower McCloud Falls, although be prepared to begin the hike at the Highway 89 turnoff if the road is covered in snow. Just remember: the more snow, the more remote your snowshoe adventure will be.

From the Lower Falls, you’ll snowshoe about a mile up the hill until you come to the biggest waterfall, Middle McCloud Falls. You can enjoy Middle Falls up close or get a panoramic view from the observation deck above. Another mile up the way is Upper McCloud Falls, which due to its location deep below a ravine, is difficult to see up close. But there are plenty of viewing opportunities from above.

Once you’ve made it to Upper McCloud Falls, the hike down to the car is a relaxing trek to rediscover all of the beauty you witnessed on your way up. And just a reminder, you’ll probably have the whole pace to yourself.

Here’s a quick video of snowy hike to the three tiers of McCloud Falls.

Faery Falls

There are many snowshoeing opportunities in the Mount Shasta area, but the trek to Faery Falls may be the most accessible of them all. While you may not be able to see the 19th century ruins of Ney Springs Resort if there is a lot of snow accumulation, the hike still provides plenty of beauty.

The trail is only 1.3 miles roundtrip, so even if your snowshoeing through heavy snowpack, it’s still an adventure that won’t take very long. And the waterfall payoff of the nearly 50 foot Faery Falls is well worth the price of admission (free). You could even make it a double trip by taking your snowshoes over to the nearby Lake Siskiyou, which offers unparalleled views of Mount Shasta.

With the easy access of snowshoes throughout Northern California, you have no excuse to take the winter off of an outdoor excursion, and these hikes are the perfect way to get your feet wet (wear heavy socks).

Active NorCal

Northern California's Outdoor Digital Newsmagazine

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