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This California Campground Is Right Next To 3 Waterfalls, A Majestic River And A Hidden Dam

3 majestic waterfalls.

A hidden dam.

And riverside camping by one of California’s most serene rivers. 

This campground is DEFINITELY worth a visit.

(And it’s highly rated by visitors too.)

In this post, we’ll explore the scenic beauty of this amazing California Campground and everything you need to know to plan your visit.

What Campground Is It? 

In this post, we’re talking about Fowlers Campground by the McCloud River and the 3 McCloud Falls.

How to get there?

Fowlers Campground is located in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest.

It’s around 1 hour 15 mins north of Redding and about 25 minutes drive east from the town of Mount Shasta.

fowlers campground california google maps

Here’s the Google Maps Address and link

Here are the coordinates:

  • Latitude: 41° 14′ 41.4802″ N
  • Longitude: 122° 1′ 23.7202″ W

Here are some directions to follow from the McCloud Ranger Station (as provided by the Forest Service Website):

  1. From the McCloud Ranger Station, turn left on Highway 89. 
  2. Drive 5 miles and look for a sign on the left side of the highway for Fowlers/Lower Falls.
  3. Turn right just after the sign and drive approximately 1 mile.
  4. Once you cross the River Loop Road take the left fork into the campground. 
  5. The right fork will take you to the day use/parking area for Lower Falls and the beginning of the River Trail. 

Now we know what it is and where it is, let’s uncover what you could do here before we get into more details about the campground itself.

3 Waterfalls And An Old Hidden Dam 

McCloud Falls is a highlight of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest and consists of three distinct waterfalls:

  • Lower Falls
  • Middle Falls
  • Upper Falls
mccloud falls lower middle and upper falls (1)

But did you know there’s also an old hidden dam that not everybody knows about? (we’ll reveal more on this further down).

Each waterfall offers its own unique charm and picturesque views, making it a must-visit for anyone staying at Fowler’s Campground.

But one of the waterfalls is definitely the best of the three.

The McCloud River Falls Trail

The McCloud River Falls Trail starts at Lower Falls and you can follow it to Upper Falls and beyond.

Most people will take it from Lower Falls to Upper Falls and back, which ends up being around 3.5 miles round-trip.

The Fowlers Campground is between Lower Falls and Middle Falls (but much closer to Lower Falls). 

So if you’re staying at Fowlers Campground, just head to Lower Falls and start your waterfall adventure from there.

If you don’t want to take the trail there is parking at each of the three waterfalls and you can drive between them. 

Lower Falls

If you’re based at Fowlers Campground the closest waterfall is the Lower Falls. 

It’s a serene and accessible spot perfect for families and those looking for a gentle introduction to the area. 

The Lower Falls are characterized by their wide, gentle cascade into a calm pool, making it an ideal location for swimming and picnicking. 

Out of the three waterfalls this one is best for swimming because it is a lot calmer than the others. 

The surrounding area is lush with vegetation, offering plenty of shaded spots to relax and enjoy the sound of the cascading water.

Lower Falls is also where most people begin their hike upriver to see all three waterfalls.

Middle Falls (Don’t miss this one!)

A short hike upstream from Lower Falls leads to the Middle Falls, the most spectacular of the three. 

Here, the water plunges over a 50-foot drop into a large pool below. 

It’s seriously impressive and worth seeing. 

From the viewpoint at the top of the falls (Middle Falls Overlook), you can see a panoramic vista of the surrounding forest and river, making it a popular spot for photography. 

From here you should be able to see the peaks of Castle Crags Wilderness to the west. 

You can also see Mount Shasta through the trees. 

For the more adventurous, a trail leads down to the base of the falls, where you can feel the mist on your face and experience the power of the water up close.

You can also swim at Middle Falls and it’s fairly popular to do so. 

Upper Falls

Continuing upstream, the Upper Falls provide a more secluded and tranquil experience. 

This waterfall is less visited than the Lower and Middle Falls, offering a peaceful retreat for those willing to hike a bit further. 

The Upper Falls features a narrow cascade that flows into a deep, clear pool surrounded by rocky outcrops and dense forest. 

upper falls mccloud river

You can technically get to the base of the falls but there aren’t any designated trails so exercise caution. 

Now you can head back or keep following the trail to uncover an area that not many people venture into.

Bonus – The Old Hidden Dam (& A Swimming Hole?)

If you continue upstream and follow the trail you’ll end up at Lakin Dam. 

This dam was built in 1925 and named after Bert Lakin who lost his life fighting a forest fire in the McCloud area in 1936. 

Today the Lakin Dam area is a great place to fish and the waters here are much more slow-moving and peaceful compared to the three McCloud waterfall areas.

There’s also an accessible wooden deck over the water for you to view wildlife and enjoy the gentle sounds of the river.

From here, you could technically follow the trail further to Cattle Camp Swimming Hole and eventually, the Algoma Campground.  

Although most people turn back at Upper Falls or at Lakin Dam.

Algoma is the end of the McCloud River Trail, a distance of 15 miles from Lower Falls.


Fowler’s Campground offers a diverse range of outdoor activities that cater to nature enthusiasts, families and adventure seekers. 

Whether you’re a seasoned hiker, an avid fisherman, or simply looking to relax in nature, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.


About a half mile downstream from Lower Falls you’ll find Pine Tree Hollow. 

mccloud reservoir

Here you’ll find a kayak put-in and from here you can navigate the river to the McCloud Reservoir (Lake McCloud).

Hiking Trails

The area around Fowler’s Campground is crisscrossed with hiking trails that showcase the stunning natural beauty of Northern California. 

As mentioned earlier, one of the most popular trails is the McCloud River Trail which connects all three tiers of McCloud Falls. 

This trail is relatively easy and suitable for hikers of all skill levels, making it a great option for families and beginners. 

If you don’t want to hike too much you can just take it to Middle Falls and back.

Some take it to Upper Falls and back.

And some take it even further to explore more of the area’s wilderness.

Beyond the Campground area, there are other trails nearby like the Pacific Crest Trail and plenty of trails at Mount Shasta such as the Bunny Flat Trail.

Mountain Biking / Horse Riding

Mountain bikes and horses are allowed on the McCloud River trail but if it’s busy you might not want to. 

The section of the trail beyond Upper Falls and Lakin Dam is the most quiet. 


The McCloud River is renowned for its excellent fishing opportunities, attracting anglers from all over. 

The river is home to a variety of fish species, including rainbow trout, brown trout, and brook trout. 

It’s also home to the redband trout which live by the slow waters of Lakin Dam.

The main areas for fishing near the falls are near Lakin Dam just beyond upper falls and near Lower Falls. 

This is where the waters are generally more slow-moving. 

The Upper McCloud River at Lower Falls and the McCloud Reservoir is regularly stocked with rainbow trout by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Be sure to check local regulations before you cast your line.

Swimming and Picnicking

The crystal-clear pools at the base of McCloud Falls are perfect for a refreshing swim on a hot day. 

The Lower Falls, with its calm waters, is especially popular for swimming and wading. 

At the trailhead (by Lower Falls) there is a day-use area with bear-proof trash bins, restrooms, water spigots, picnic tables, and upright BBQ grills.

These spots offer the perfect setting for a leisurely lunch surrounded by the sounds of nature.

Wildlife Watching and Birding

The diverse ecosystem around Fowlers Campground supports a wide range of wildlife. 

Keep an eye out for deer, foxes, and even the occasional bear as you explore the area. 

Birdwatchers will enjoy the variety of bird species that inhabit the forest, including bald eagles, ospreys, and woodpeckers. 

Bring your binoculars and enjoy the opportunity to observe these creatures in their natural habitat.

The Camping Experience At The Campground

Fowlers Campground offers a quintessential camping experience with a range of facilities and amenities designed to make your stay comfortable and enjoyable. 

Whether you’re camping in a tent or an RV, the campground provides everything you need for a relaxing getaway.

Although it isn’t the most suited to large RV’s.

Here are some things you need to know:

How many campsites?

There are currently 39 campsites, 31 of which are reservation only. 

Only 8 sites are first come first served.

Of the 39 campsites, 35 are single sites, 2 are double sites. 

Who can camp here?

Sites are suitable for tents and mid-sized RVs or trailers.

Large RVs are not really recommended.

The average maximum trailer size is about 30 ft and you shouldn’t have a problem with this size. 

Although, when checking the website we found that 15 sites allow RV’s / trailers up to 45 ft.

But there are some larger sites here that accommodate even larger vehicles. 

For example, here are the 5 largest sites in terms of the maximum vehicle length:

  • The largest site is campsite 34 with a max vehicle length of 59 ft
  • Site 38-39 (double site) has a max length of 54 ft
  • Site 21 is 51 ft
  • Site 20 is 50 ft
  • Site 31 is 48 ft

How much does it cost?

Camping fees here are $15 per day for single sites and $30 per day for double sites.

You pay $8 for the day you check out. 

Check-out is at 2:00 pm. 

For example:

  • You stay Monday and leave on Tuesday.
  • You pay 15$ for Monday and $8 for Tuesday.
  • Total of $23
example booking fowlers campground

What time of year is it open?

The campground is typically open from mid-May to mid-October.

How can I make a reservation? 

You can reserve a spot at the webpage for Fowlers Campground on 

Reservations open on May 15th and you can book any date up to October 15th when the season ends. 

Here’s the link:

Can I bring a dog?

Yes you can bring a dog with the following restrictions

  • Dogs must be on a leash, non-aggressive, and quiet. 

Campground Facilities

Fowlers Campground has numerous tent and RV sites, each thoughtfully spaced to provide a sense of privacy and tranquility. 

The sites are surrounded by tall trees, providing ample shade and a natural setting. 

Each campsite comes with a picnic table, fire ring, and access to water spigots.

You’ll find accessible vault toilets at the campground too.

Bear-resistant food storage lockers are available too.

Important to note:

  • No electric hookups
  • No showers

Unique Features

One of the standout features of Fowler’s Campground is its proximity to McCloud Falls and McCloud River. 

A short walk from the campground leads you directly to the Lower Falls (and Middle Falls isn’t too far either), letting you easily enjoy the scenic beauty of the area. 

Additionally, some campsites are located right along the riverbank, offering soothing sounds of flowing water and picturesque views right from your tent or RV.

The Verdict and Ratings

Overall, the camping experience at Fowler’s Campground focuses on the natural beauty of the area.

While it’s not the MOST kitted out in terms of facilities, it’s also not the worst and the facilities it does have are fairly well maintained. 

The McCloud falls and river make it too good to ignore.

Overall, campers rate it highly and the reviews for it prove this.

Here are some ratings across different websites:

With its well-maintained facilities, serene environment, and easy access to McCloud Falls, it’s no wonder this campground is a favorite among both locals and visitors.

Here’s a video to give you a better idea of what to expect.

Tips for Visiting

Planning a trip to Fowler’s Campground requires a bit of preparation to have the best experience.

Here are some essential tips to help you make the most of your visit.

When to book?


As soon as you know when you want to go, reserve your spot. 

Reservations for the season open up in the middle of May and they start to fill up fast.

Here’s a reminder of the link you need:

Best Times of Year to Visit

The best time to visit Fowler’s Campground is during the late spring, summer, and early fall months. 

Luckily this mostly coincides with the campground’s opening season (May- October).

From May to October, the weather is typically warm and pleasant, making it ideal for camping and outdoor activities. 

The waterfalls are at their most impressive in the spring when the snowmelt increases the flow of the McCloud River. 

However, summer offers the best conditions for swimming and picnicking.

What to Bring

Packing the right gear is crucial for a successful camping trip. 

Here’s a checklist of some essentials to bring:

  • Camping Gear: Tent, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, the usual.
  • Clothing: Layered clothing to accommodate changing weather conditions, sturdy hiking shoes, swimwear, and a hat.
  • Food and Supplies: Enough food and snacks for your stay, a cooler, and plenty of water. If you do run out of supplies, you can drive to the town of McCloud, which is about a 10-15-minute drive away.
  • Safety and Comfort: Sunscreen, insect repellent, a first aid kit, and a flashlight or headlamp.
  • Other Items: Binoculars for wildlife watching, a camera for capturing memories, and fishing gear if you plan to fish.

Useful Links & Resources

Be sure to use the following links and resources to stay up to date and find out any further information that you need.

McCloud Ranger Station Details:

Use the McCloud District Recreation Report to see if there are any alerts or restrictions in the area.

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Sophie Davis

Born and raised in the Bay area of California, Sophie is a California native. She joined our team in 2023 to create travel guides on California.

Learn more about the Traveller's Elixir Team.

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