A Face in the Crowd 2 – McCloud River

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Yesterday we took a hike along McCloud River, just outside McCloud (CA.) This is a well maintained hike, of an amazing waterway. It’s often challenging to photograph the river, and the three waterfalls along the trail, without accidentally catching a A Face in the Crowd (this week’s photo challenge. Here’s my first entry to the challenge.)


We did see around 20 people, during the 3-4 hours we spent along the river yesterday, not too bad, for this kind of place.


My daughter suggested that we built a house next to the lower waterfall! Why not? LOL.


As always when there’s water included, Gretchen, my dog, had a blast!


We had hoped for lots of snow, but there was only some patches here and there. The temperature was comfortable, in the upper 30s, and the sun felt warm on our cheeks.

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We started at the lower fall, and hiked out, and back, viewing all three falls. It’s not a very long hike, 3.8 miles all together. It’s perfect for a Sunday stroll with a 5 year old. We stopped many times looking at rocks along the river, crashing some ice, throwing sticks to our dog, comparing different kinds of moss on the trees, and we climbed some bigger boulders on the side of Middle Fall (where we had our picnic lunch.)

The perfect picnic spot!

We had a fantastic day. I love combining; fresh air, exercise, play, education, exploring, photography, quality family time, and meditation in one outing. That’s the kind of multitasking I like!
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To the right, from where we had our lunch, the pine trees covered the river, making part of it in full shade. The shady patches, like the one on the photo above was really cold.

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This is also Middle Fall, seen from above, further up the trail. We had our lunch on the boulders, in the center, of the bottom of the photo. If you look closely, you can see some people trying to get to that spot. I love how the trail follows the river. It’s a peaceful hike. I believe I’ve done it in all seasons now. They are all wonderful in this magical place.

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This is the Upper Fall, the last one on our trail. We started at the Lower Fall, walked up to Middle Fall, and saw the Upper Fall last. Then we turned around, and walked the same trail back. You can park at any of the falls, and connect to the trail there. You don’t have to do it in a specific order. There’s plenty of parking spots, and clean restrooms at every trail head. This is a hike, or outing for everyone that enjoys beautiful nature. You don’t have to hike if you’re unable to, you can choose to drive to each trailhead and just enjoy the waterfalls.

The easiest way to get there is by taking 1-5 towards McCloud (CA,) and then take Highway 89 for 15 miles, east of the I-5/89 junction, and 5 miles east of McCloud and turn south on Road 40N44. Look for a Fowlers Camp/McCloud Falls sign. It’s easy to find. If you have access to a smartphone, google maps will take you right there.

If you want to stay longer, there’s simple campgrounds next to the falls, but I can highly recommend the RV Park in McCloud, if you’re an RV;er looking for a cool place to spend some time. McCloud also have several B&B with good reputation, but I haven’t personally tried any of them. McCloud is an old logging town, with many beautiful houses, and interesting things to see. There’s an abundance of hiking trail, and Mt Shasta is close by.

I actually shared a post about McCloud Falls in June last year, when this blog was a newborn. Have you seen McCloud River Falls? If so, tell me about your experience! I would love to hear about it!

I hope that your week got off to an awesome start 🙂


Ms Zen

Crystal Creek Falls


On Sunday evening I craved a nature experience. Whiskeytown National Recreation Area was close by, so I suggested a spur off the moment visit. It’s a gorgeous 39 000 acres wilderness area, with over 70 miles of well maintained trails. I love hiking there, and enjoy this area quiet often.


It has four amazing waterfalls. Neither are that challenging to get too. However, Crystal Creek Falls, the one we visited on Sunday, is by far the easiest. You can drive almost the whole way there. The “hike” is 1/4 mile one way. It was perfect for an unplanned visit, with limited time left off the day.

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That said, with a place that is so easy to get too, you can’t expect to have the place to yourself. We did have to wait a while, before the two families that got there before us, decided to move on. When there were no-one there I let Gretchen off leash for a few minutes, she was dying to get into the water. To her it doesn’t matter if it’s cold, she needs to jump in. She is usually a very quiet dog, (she only barks on command, or if attacked.) While waiting for our turn to enjoy the falls she sat next to me, longingly looked at the water and whined…and whined.. She was SO happy when I finally set her free, and told her to play.


After visiting this waterfall last weekend (February 2018,) I was inspired to dig out a photo from last spring. To compare the water levels. This last photo was taken in April 2017.

This is the perfect place to visit if you’re just driving through, have a disabled, or elderly person in your party. Everyone can enjoy this beautiful waterfall. There’s picnic tables, plenty of parking, and clean restrooms. You do need a park permit. You can get that at the visitor center (daily/weekly/yearly permits available.) During our hot summers, this is still a good place to visit, the thick surrounding forest provides plenty of shade. If you want more solitude there’s plenty of other hikes nearby, that provides that. Further up the same road, there’s Whiskeytown Falls, that is a bigger 220ft waterfall, that also requires a little more effort to get there. It’s a 2.8 mile out and back hike, the way there is almost all uphill. It’s not too bad, my daughter have done that hikes many times, the first time she walked the whole way by herself she was 2,5 years old. It’s rated as a moderate hike in most hiking apps.

Whiskeytown National Recreation Area Visitor Center

If you’re interested in visiting these waterfalls, or just enjoying the magnificent lake that this area is named after, I suggest visiting the visitor center first. It is a real nice visitor center, with knowledgeable friendly staff, and you need to get a permit anyways.

Last Years Annual Park Pass

They usually have free maps off the area, and are more than willing to direct you to any place you may desire to see. This is the address to the visitor center:

Whiskeytown National Recreation Area
14412 Kennedy Memorial Drive
Whiskeytown, CA 96095



Whiskeytown Lake seen from the visitor centers parking lot. The waterfalls in this post is on the other side of the lake, only a short scenic drive away.

I truly hope you get to enjoy this area in person ❤



Ms Zen


A Zen-Minded Thanksgiving Week, part 3

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I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, this is what it is to be happy. 
― Sylvia Plath


The third, and last part of my Zen Minded Thanksgiving Week, a beautiful hike along the McCloud River in northern California. (Here is the first, and the second part of the series.)

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The McCloud River is probably northern California’s most scenic waterway. It features  three amazing waterfalls, along a 4 mile well maintained trail. It’s a super easy hike, part of it is even paved.

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One of the most unique things with this place is that each waterfall have their own trailhead, parking lot, and clean restrooms. You could just drive up to one of the trail heads, and simply enjoy the waterfall, if you’re for some reason unable to do the 4 mile hike.


There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more.
― George Gordon Byron


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The lower fall have a wonderful swimming hole. It’s very popular during our hot summers. The swimming hole, and the trail can be crowded during spring/summer. I’ve done this hike many times, and last week was the first time I didn’t see a single soul, until after the hike.

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The water was ice cold, but my dog couldn’t resist jumping in, time after time. She’s crazy about water, and a  great swimmer. McCloud River Trail is a serene place, where the most exquisite nature is easily accessible for everyone. It’s very suitable for meditation, especially this time of the year. Have you been there? If so, what was your experience? Is it a place you would like to visit?

Happy Friday!


Ms Zen


PS. I just came back from another road trip last night (Nevada and Lake Tahoe.) I’m home to do some laundry, and repack my bags for a weekend trip later today. I promise to get back to everyone as soon as I can. I really appreciate your visit, emails and comments here!

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