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U.S. Forest Service

Pacific Southwest Region Viewing Area


Squaw Valley Creek trail. Squaw Valley Creek lies near the eastern edge of the ancient Klamath Ranges, a region of great plant diversity. Canyon live oak and incense-cedar are common overstory trees. Photo by Paul Nutt.

lichens and mosses. Lichens and mosses are abundant and diverse along the trail especially on limestone outcrops. Photo by Paul Nutt.

cliffmaids, Lewisia cotyledon. Cliffmaids, Lewisia cotyledon, is a spectacular sight in early spring. This species in the Purslane family is geographically restricted to the mountains of northwestern California and adjacent Oregon. Photo by Paul Nutt.

Two pictures of Hartweg's wild ginger. The curious brownish-purple flowers of wild-ginger are predominantly self-pollinated, but they are occasionally visited by fungus-eating flies. Wild-ginger seeds are dispersed by ants, which drag the seeds away to eat their fleshy protein-rich seed appendages, called elaiosomes. Photo by Paul Nutt.

Shelton's violet. Shelton's violet is distinguished from other yellow violets by its fern-like dissected leaves. Photo by Paul Nutt.

Squaw Valley Creek Trail

Forest: Shasta-Trinity National Forest

District: McCloud Ranger District

Description: Squaw Valley Creek is a beautiful stream, lined with deep, sun-dappled pools, boisterous waterfalls, and long rapids. Umbrella plant or Indian-rhubarb grows thickly along the rocky shores shading the water beneath ad dark formations of basalt hem the stream and provide spectacular bluffs and obstacles to the water's flow. It flows through a mature mixed conifer forest that includes Douglas-fir, Pacific yew, pine and incense-cedar. Black oak, vine maple and dogwood form the understory and provide brilliant color on brisk autumn day. The ground is moss covered and damp. The Squaw Valley Creek trail meanders five miles along Squaw Valley Creek and ends at a private locked road that heads down to the McCloud River. It is a there and back trail, with lots of level ground and gentle climbs. It periodically dips to creek level where one can picnic, fish for native trout and swim. There are few locations that are suitable for camping along the trail but a good place for a backpacking camp is at the south end. Shortly after beginning your hike down the trail you will come to another trail that joins Squaw Valley Creek from the east via a footbridge. This is the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail (PCT) winding its way from the Lower McCloud River to Castle Crags. It and the Squaw Valley Creek Trail run concurrently for a short distance until the PCT forks off and heads up-hill. The junction is marked. The Squaw Valley Creek trail is relatively new and is NOT SHOWN on the currently available 1997 Shasta-Trinity National Forest map.

Viewing Information: Spring wildflowers and flowering shrubs are plentiful, including saxifrage, cliff maids, Pacific sedum, red larkspur, marbled wild ginger, scarlet and brown fritillaries, Shelton’s violet, Sierra gooseberry, and Pacific dogwood. The best wildflower shows are between March and the end of May. You will also see a diversity of mosses, lichens, and ferns.

Safety First: Summer temperatures are regularly over 100 degrees in this part of California, so carry plenty of water, or visit during milder times of the year. The trail is rocky and uneven in places; wear sturdy footwear. Poison-oak is a common understory plant. Be familiar with its various guises-it can be a shrub or twining vine, brushing against your legs and arms or even dangling from overhead. As with any trail in the Squaw Valley Creek area, you may encounter a rattlesnake, black bear, or mountain lion. Visit the Shasta-Trinity recreation web page for sensible precautions you can take to minimize poison-oak, wild animals, and rattlesnake concerns. Visit the Shasta-Trinity recreation web page for sensible precautions you can take to minimize poison-oak, bear, and rattlesnake concerns.

Directions: From Interstate 5, take the McCloud exit (State Route 89) and travel south approximately 13 miles to the town of McCloud. Turn right at the McCloud central business district, following the signs for Squaw Valley Creek Road and the McCloud Reservoir. Continue on this road for 6.1 miles. Just past a camping and RV park named "Friday's Retreat", turn right onto Lower Squaw Valley Creek Road. This is a dirt road with a sign saying "Rough Road", but is easily passable with a highway vehicle. Continue on this road for 3.1 miles. At this point, you will cross over a concrete bridge. The parking area and trailhead are on the left immediately after you cross the bridge. The trail crosses Cabin Creek a short distance after you leave the trailhead and follows the west side of Squaw Valley Creek. Further information about this beautiful hiking trail may be obtained from the McCloud Ranger Station, P.O. Box 1620, McCloud, CA 96057, (530) 964-2184.

Ownership and Management: USDA Forest Service, Shasta-Trinity National Forest, McCloud Ranger District.

Closest Town: About 10 miles from McCloud, California.