A spring waterfall somewhere in the Shasta Valley.
Since I posted my collection of Mount Shasta area waterfalls, I have received a few questions about which ones, exactly, are best right now. Given that there is a fairly clear delineation between spring and summer waterfalls in Mount Shasta due to the great differences in elevation and watersheds, I figured it might be helpful to do a post on which ones are accessible right now. It may be worthwhile to do a post latter this summer of the waterfalls found at higher elevations too.
Nearly all the accessible waterfalls this time of year are going to be found in the Castle Crags or near the McCloud and Sacramento Rivers. This makes them accessible via paved roads without particularly long hikes. The falls in the Crags require the most involved hikes of the lot, though neither of these hikes are hard.
Root Creek Falls is perhaps my favorite springtime waterfall. Nowhere else in the Mount Shasta area gives one the feel of Yosemite like the falls viewpoint. With granite cliffs, the soaring spire of Castle Dome and the multi-tiered plunges of the waterfall, it feels like sitting near the base of Snow Creek Falls in Tenaya Canyon. The Root Creek Trail can be accessed via the Soda Creek PCT trailhead or the Castle Dome trailhead.
While Burstarse Falls is the obvious highlight of this part of the Castle Crags, getting there requires hiking past the lower falls and a pleasing succession of small waterfalls and cascades. Hours could be spent exploring and enjoying these memorable springtime cataracts. Burstarse Creek is easily accessed via a nice hike along the PCT.
Faery Falls is a fantastic sight on Ney Springs Creek. Though having perennial flow, it is a furious torrent in the spring. The spring thaw elevates it from a pleasant little waterfall to a grand spectacle. The water pours through a narrow gap in the cliffs and then fans out over a 40 cliff. Easily reached by a short hike that passes through the ruins of the Ney Springs Resort.
Hedge Creek Falls is a classic, easy-to-reach little waterfall right at the edge of the town of Dunsmuir. The most interesting feature of the waterfall is the columnar basalt over which it flows and the cave that lies behind it. In the not too distant future this short hike will just be the beginning of the trail to nearby Mossbrae Falls. This latter waterfall has no legal access at this time but a trail will hopefully be completed this fall. Get ready for this to be the most popular trail in the Mount Shasta area!
Located in the eponymously named community just south of Castella, this small waterfall is easy to access and worth a stop while hunting for waterfalls in the Mount Shasta area. It has a very short path leading right to the base.
Not a particularly large waterfall, the cataract along Squaw Valley Creek still makes a worthwhile hike along the gorgeous creekside trail. This is not usually considered among the waterfalls in the area but ought to be. It is not flowing over boulders but a sharp precipice in the bedrock.
Upper, Middle and Lower McCloud Falls need no introduction. They are the premier waterfalls in the Mount Shasta area. While these obviously flow all year, spring is a great time to see them at the height of their power. Right now the road to the lower falls is clear of snow and the trail is open to the other two. With the warm weather, all road access will be open soon.
For those willing to get out and explore, there are a lot of other great, lesser known waterfalls accessible now. Many are in the Castle Crags, though there are some others scattered around the area. As the weather warms up, get ready to head out explore these natural riches!