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Darrell Berkheimer: Relief from controversies

Darrell Berkheimer | Columnist

With all the controversies in our daily news — political and otherwise — especially with the hearings into the insurrection of Jan. 6 last year, I believe most folks look forward to getting away from all of it for a little while. And that’s just what Mary and I did 10 days ago.

For nearly four full days, we experienced no radio, no TV, and even no WiFi. We hadn’t planned it to be that complete. We at least thought we would do a bit of online surfing — only WiFi was not available where we were.

I can’t remember if it was two or three years ago, before or during the pandemic, when someone first mentioned to me the size and beauty of Burney Falls. The description piqued my interest, prompting me to think about planning a trip to see the falls.



The virus, of course, curtailed our activities and thoughts of travel until early this year. And then, with the purchase of our little travel trailer in March, I began thinking about a trip to McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park.

I went online to read about the falls and see some photos. The pictures revealed the falls are quite spectacular, and I learned they’re 129 feet high. That settled it. I wanted to see the falls myself, and take my own photos.



The state park has camping facilities. But with the increase in camping created by the pandemic, and various types of RVs selling faster than ever before, I heard that many of the state park campgrounds fill quickly, partly as a result of reservations made weeks in advance.

In addition, curtailed mobility has become an issue with my spouse, so we lean toward going to the RV parks where full hookups are available.

The ones closest to the park were at Hat Creek to the south, Lassen RV Park east of McArthur, and at McCloud — the small town 12 miles west of Interstate 5 at Mt. Shasta city where Route 89 ends.

In checking each of the RV park websites for other attractions in their areas, I learned the McCloud area offers a surprise bonus of not one, but three more waterfalls at the nearby McCloud River. They’re off a waterfalls loop road only six miles east of the RV park adjacent to downtown McCloud.

All three have American Disabilities Act accessible overlooks, each with their own parking area. A U.S. Forest Service campground is located along that loop road, too.

A four-mile round-trip, easy-to-moderate trail connects the three waterfalls. Most of it is relatively flat, except for a series of moderate switchbacks from the base of the Middle Falls to the overlook above. The trail flattens again and continues along the canyon’s upper rim to Upper Falls overlook. There is no sanctioned trail to the bottom of Upper Falls.

Burney Falls is very picturesque and quite popular, sometimes drawing large crowds. In contrast, the McCloud River trio of falls appear to be little known. n talking to several folks in my Nevada County circle of friends, only one knew about the three falls, and had even hiked the round-trip trail.

They’re not nearly as amazing as Burney Falls, but the Middle Falls is quite striking with its beauty. And in my photos, I attempt to show how the river water is slowly dropping over rocks as it approaches the falls.

I wish I would have walked the river trail, because I believe I could have gotten a couple better photos — particularly of the Middle Falls. Only I didn’t want to make Mary wait the couple hours that it would have taken to do that.

But I did go down the steep, sloping trail, with two sections of rock steps, to the area near the bottom of Burney Falls to take photos. And I felt pretty good, at 80 years old, over being able to navigate that trail back to the top with only two brief stops to catch my breath.

The McCloud River is a scenic area that I found every bit as breath-taking and worth the visit as much as Burney Falls. I’m glad we selected the McCloud RV Park.

Darrell Berkheimer, who lives in Grass Valley, is a frequent contributor to The Union. He has nine books available through Amazon. His two “Essays” books include nearly 120 columns published by The Union, plus a variety of travel and photo essays. Contact him at mtmrnut@yahoo.com.

McCloud River Upper Falls in Siskiyou County.
Photo by Darrell Berkheimer

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