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Visited: November 29, 2015
Description: Forbidden falls of Dunsmuir, CA
Length: ~3 miles
Elevation: 25 feet
Duration: 2 hours
Terrain: Rocky road along train tracks and then dirt trail to falls.
Parking: Street or Dunsmuir City Park parking lot (41.224728, -122.275897). Just make sure you park outside of Shasta Retreat.
Pets: No dogs allowed but technically people aren’t allowed
Best time to go: When feeling dangerous
Bring: Camera, snack/lunch (enjoy the falls!), camping hammock (if you have one)
Fun fact: Arnold Schwarzenegger took George W. Bush to see these falls.
Flowing into the Sacramento River, Mossbrae falls is one of the most picturesque waterfalls in California. After an exhausting, thigh-burning hike to Castle Crags Dome, this was the perfect stop to relax.
We parked in a nearby mobile home area and set off to find these falls. The route to Mossbrae is “technically” off-limits. This trail was closed in 2011 when a woman was hit by a train while walking along the tracks on her way to the falls. The City of Dunsmuir is planning to build a safe alternative route to the falls but until then, the trail is prohibited. The falls were beautiful enough but the element of danger is what solidified the HikeSnobs interest.
To get to the trailhead, you’ll enter through the Shasta Retreat gate. We cautiously followed the road down, constantly checking our surroundings. We didn’t want to draw any attention to ourselves in such a quiet area.
Once you reach the bottom of the hill, make a right. You’ll cross over a bridge and you will reach the train tracks.
This is where you’ll turn right and follow along the side of the tracks for a little more than 3/4 of a mile. You will see signs saying pedestrians are not allowed on the tracks so enter at your own risk. There is enough room to walk along the tracks safely. Some parts of the track are more narrow. Those are the parts where you’ll need to be most careful if a train does pass by.
Since the tracks are active, you’ll need to keep your ears open for any moving trains. During our hike, we were lucky enough (that’s right, LUCKY enough!) to experience a train pass by us. If you are heading towards the falls, the train will come towards you head on. When we first spotted the train, we were a little scared and quickly ran to the side of the tracks.
There was plenty of room where we were and the speed of the train wasn’t too fast. If we were on a more narrow section of the tracks, it would have been much scarier.
As long as you pay attention, you should be able to spot the train and hear it in time. Don’t let your fears get the best of you! A previous hiker left everyone some great advice, “Little bit farther to the waterfall don’t be a b*tch.”
After spotting the 3/4 mile trail marker, we kept an eye out on the right side of trail for the falls. Right before we hit the railroad trestle, we spotted the waterfall through the trees. Look for an opening through the trees and follow the path.
As we made our way down, we could see the falls peaking out through the trees.
What a beautiful view!
The waterfall is about 50 feet high and 175 feet wide. The falls are fed by springs which flow down the flora-covered canyon wall resulting in many waterfall streams falling into the river.
Mossbrae Falls is probably our favorite waterfall of the entire trip and definitely a great adventure. After walking around and enjoying our surroundings, we decided to put our newly purchased camping hammock to use. We found the perfect trees and BAM! Relaxing and comforting.
We could’ve stayed here forever but we had one last waterfall to check out before heading home. McArthur-Burney Falls, here we come!
- You may get a ticket for trespassing ($150/person).
- Watch out for trains, proceed at your own risk.
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