Saturday, November 20, 2010

Mossbrae Falls The Complete Story

   For quite some time now I’ve wanted to visit Mossbrae Falls. Even though this is not an optimal time to visit California waterfalls I still could not pass up this opportunity. I knew we would be going through Dunsmuir on our way to San Francisco to visit our son, who has recently moved there after joining an accounting firm.
We left Portland at 4 PM and stopped to stay the night in the town of Weed, Ca. The next morning I had profiled 3 waterfalls I wanted to visit before we proceeded south. Since Dunsmuir is only 20 minutes south I thought this would be no problem. The first stop, Hedge Creek Falls

   are right off of I-5 on the corner of Dunsmuir Ave and the freeway off ramp. There is a large sign that denotes the trailhead here as well. The falls are found just a few hundred yards down 3 switchbacks. These are very different looking falls in that the rock formations are so rectangular it gives a modern look to the area if that makes sense. It also struck me that it looked like man placed large slabs of cut rock into the area and placed them next to the falls.

   Mossbrae Falls were next and less than 1 mile by car to the trailhead. Simply take Dunsmuir Ave south for .7 miles then make a very sharp right turn on Scarlett Way also signed as (Shasta Retreat). Drive over a small bridge and railroad tracks then try and find a parking spot.

   I often feel after reading accounts by other people that have visited areas before me that they are very light on giving details about what to expect, and this is a prime example. Let me paint a clearer picture of what to expect in this area. First off there are no signs for these falls nor are there any parking spots. As a matter of fact the railroad has clearly discouraged access to these falls by blocking the gravel parking areas next to the tracks with large concrete barricades. Also there are several no trespassing signs posted, additionally there is a sign that states no access to Mossbrae Falls. The instructions I had stated that I should walk upstream about 1.25 miles to the falls. I was under the impression that there is a trail that parallels the RR tracks, this is not the case at all. You will walk right on the 4-inch ballast rock and directly on the track itself at times…. There is no trail. I was very nervous a train would come through while I was on the narrowest parts of the track. I could hear the Sacramento River below as well as the sound of an active sawmill cutting would and would constantly think a train was bearing down on me. Also walking on that rock played havoc on my feet and ankles.

   After about 20 minutes of walking I finally caught a glimpse of the magnificent weeping walls of Mossbrae Falls and I started to get excited about the possibilities that awaited me. I also had the place to myself; if only I was here in late October it would have been that much nicer with the full glory of fall color. I got off a few shots but before too long a couple of decked out fly fisherman came right into my composition and proceeded to make casts right in front of me. At first I was a little miffed but then realized what a great image it would make to photograph these guys casting right in front of the falls.

   The third falls on my list was called Shasta Spring Falls and at the time I didn't realize that all I had to do was walk upstream an additional .3 miles from Mossbrae and I would have witnessed a beautiful 100 ft cascade. Unfortunately I will have to save that for my next time through this area.  I highly recommend Mossbrae Falls it looks different in every season and I can’t imagine not making the effort every time I come through this area.

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