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Weekend getaway to Mount Shasta and McCloud B&B

May 9, 2013


Scenic vistas as we drive North on I-5 towards Mount Shasta

The Mount Shasta area is a perfect weekend getaway destination for those living in and around the bay area. Whether you are looking for a romantic escape or an activity filled weekend, Mt Shasta and nearby places like McCloud, Dunsmuir and Lassen provide a perfect backdrop for TLC with bed and breakfasts, hiking alongside roaring waterfalls, biking on mountain trails and water activities around pristine lakes.

During winter, Mt. Shasta transforms into a hub of skiing and snowboarding activity, in summer the Lassen Volcanic National Park and Lake beds National Monument overflow with visitors marveling at sulphur mudpots and the area’s volcanic legacy. The shoulder seasons of spring and fall are the best times to visit – you get a double advantage of no crowds and reasonable rates for accommodation.

For the perfect weekend getaway, head out early on a Saturday morning from the bay area. Along the drive on I-5, stop at Redding to see the famous sundial bridge. After lunch in Redding, continue driving North on I-5. Dunsmuir used to be a popular stop for visitors who liked to hike the 1 mile long trail to Mossbrae falls, but the trail has since been closed because it crosses the railroad lines and the city is still in the process of building an alternative trail to the falls. Drive past Dunsmuir to the quaint historic town of McCloud.


McCloud River Inn Bed & Breakfast 

For an amazing bed and breakfast experience, we highly recommend the McCloud River Inn. The town of McCloud is tiny, a few blocks of row houses that you can drive or walk around in no time. There are several B&B options in McCloud, and a handful of restaurant/cafe options for dining, although not all of them might be open and operating in the shoulder seasons. Reading the reviews on Yelp convinced us that McCloud River Inn would be perfect for us. We booked the Waterfalls room for Saturday night’s stay (comes with its own in-room jacuzzi – yay!). The reservation included a bottle of wine and a complimentary breakfast spread. We got to McCloud River Inn by 3:30pm (check in is between 3pm – 6pm) and were promptly shown to our fabulous room by the cheerful front-desk-person. We were blown away by how amazing the room and the B&B was! The entire decor, look & feel of the place was styled as if from the Victorian Era, and everything was clean and well maintained, looking crisp and stylish.


The gorgeous lobby area of the McCloud River Inn

The innkeepers were definitely giving the inn a lot of love and attention. We noticed thoughtful details like freshly-baked-cookies on arrival for visitors, a black handtowel with a printed note on it requesting visitors to use it for make-up removal to spare the white towels, heavenly soft sheets on the four-poster-bed, delicate lace curtains with easy-to-pull-up/down blinds for privacy. The jacuzzi was the star attraction! It was huge, much bigger than regular one-person tubs, and was surrounded by soft lighting and framed pictures of waterfalls in the area – McCloud Falls, McArthur Burney Falls etc. Ahh, that’s why the name of the room is aptly “The Waterfalls” room!

After settling into our cozy room, we headed out to explore the trails around McCloud Falls. A short 7 mile drive from McCloud, are three waterfalls, all within driving/hiking distance of each other. The lower falls is near Fowlers Campground, down highway 89 from McCloud.


A rainbow dances in front of the McCloud River Middle Falls

We drove past lower falls to see the middle and upper falls first. Since it was already 4pm, we didn’t have time to do the full hiking trail loop from lower to middle and upper. However, we stopped at the vista point overlooking Middle falls and explored the area, then drove up to Upper falls, saw the roaring multi-leveled falls from the vista point and then headed back to Lower falls to explore the nearby trails. Our favorite was the Middle Falls, although Lower and Upper are also phenomenally beautiful and have their own personality. We walked the easy trail from the vista near Middle Falls down to the base, and got to see a shining rainbow at the base of the falls! The rainbow danced in front of the falls for a long time as the setting sun cast its last few rays of sunshine over the sun-dappled water.

DSC_0059 DSC_0179After an afternoon of exploring waterfalls and hiking trails, it was time to unwind and relax. We headed to Aaron’s restaurant for dinner (Thanks again, Yelp!). As soon as we entered the restaurant, it felt like we had traveled back in time! A jukebox stood at a corner of the open bar area, belting out love ballads and soulful 70’s  songs. A few locals were standing around a table, drinking beer and playing pool. The lighting, the ambience, the feel was all from the quaint 60’s or 70’s. We were shown to the dining area by our gracious server who was in a jolly mood. He took our order and went away, literally dancing a jig. We got the special for the night – sweet & spicy chili chicken on brown rice with stir-fried veggies and the mushroom ravioli in creamy pesto-marinara sauce (we are partial to any type of ravioli). Both dishes were delicious – well-made and tasty. We had the entire dining room to ourselves! We got to spend a wonderful evening dining on our delicious food, while listening to the jukebox play songs from an era gone by, as more locals gathered near the bar to kick off the evening fun. Post dinner, we headed back to our cozy room, where the bed was so high, we had to take a running jump to get onto it – honestly, it was quite fun! Feeling like royalty, we let our heads sink into the plushness of fresh sheets surrounded by soft pillows. Goodnight!


Breakfast is ready at the McCloud River Inn Bed & Breakfast!

Breakfast at the inn is served from 8am – 9am everyday and comes included with the reservation – yay! Entering the breakfast room, we saw wonderfully laid out plates, dishes and cutlery for breakfast. Ursula – the innkeeper, does a fabulous job baking fresh egg/pancake dishes every morning! Today we had quiche with broccoli which was delicious. There were also freshly made fruit parfaits, with melt-in-the-mouth custard-banana on the bottom, topped with yogurt and an assortment of fresh fruits. There was cereal/granola and milk, raisin bread and jam/butter, along with marble loaf and coffee, tea. A very well-rounded breakfast that we shared with other guests at the inn. We also got chatting with a 3-generation family (daughter, mom, grandmom) who were doing a 10-day road trip from LA to Portland (home). It was fun sharing a meal with total strangers who were no longer strangers by the time we finished our breakfast.

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Panorama of McArthur-Burney Waterfall

After a scrumptious meal, it was time to check-out (11am is checkout time) and head out to explore more waterfalls and nearby Lassen Volcanic National Park. We backtracked 12 miles on hwy 89 to see Lake Siskiyou and Mount Shasta (recommended by some of the guests we met that morning at breakfast), which are both very scenic and pretty, with lots of hiking and biking trails to explore near the lake. We then drove 1.5 hours south on hwy 89 to McArthur Burney Waterfalls that is an absolutely lovely waterfall, and a big one too. The views from the vista point are amazing, but it gets better as you walk the 0.4 mile trail down to the base of the falls. The main falls are breathtaking, but what I love best are the falls on the side. Hundreds of tiny rivulets of water, flowing through moss and ferns, adding so much fragile beauty to the main falls. The rivulets are so delicate and transient, holding onto the barely-there moss and soil, gently cascading down the sides, they are mesmerizing to watch.

There is a 1.2 mile falls loop trail that takes you to the top of the falls. We went to the base of the falls, and spent a good amount of time there, admiring the waterfall and taking in the spring beauty, before heading on to Lassen Volcanic National Park, further down the road on hwy 89. Lassen was unfortunately still not fully open (since this was April). The roads had been plowed and cleared of snow only till the Visitor Center. We circled Manzanita Lake and a couple other lakes, we saw people fishing and ducks enjoying the solitude, and headed West on hwy 44 to get back onto I-5 South towards home. We were back home by 7:30pm in the evening, stopping enroute at a subway to grab lunch and taking a couple breaks for fuel, coffee and to stretch our legs.


Enjoying the refreshing views of McArthur-Burney waterfall

A regular 2-day weekend felt like a wonderful long weekend getaway, thanks to the B&B experience, doing some hiking, getting to see some very lovely waterfalls, and soaking up the spring sunshine at Mt. Shasta. We will definitely be back again to stay at the inn, and to explore nearby Lava beds National Monument and Lassen Volcanic National Park in the summer … So, when are you headed there? 🙂


The lower falls of the McCloud River


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