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The McCloud River is a river that flows east of and parallel to the Sacramento River, approximately 50 mi (80 km) long, in northern California in the United States. It drains a scenic mountainous area of the Cascade Range north of Redding.
It rises from several spring-fed streams in the Cascades approximately 10 mi (16 km) southeast of Mount Shasta in Siskiyou County It flows initially west, passing south of Mt. Shasta and receiving streams that drain the southern slope of the peak. From Mt. Shasta it flows generally southwest through Lake McCloud and through the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. It joins Shasta Lake, formed by the Shasta Dam, approximately 15 mi (24 km) north of Redding, with the lower 10 mi (16 km) of the river forming the middle arm of the Lake. The McCloud arm joins in at the Pit River Bridge on Interstate 5, five miles (8 km) north of the City of Shasta Lake.
The river is well-known for a series of waterfalls which tumble over basaltic lava flows, known collectively as the Falls of the McCloud River.
The McCloud is generally divided into two sections. The Upper McCloud is considered to be above McCloud Reservoir and the Lower McCloud stretches from the reservoir to Lake Shasta. The waterfalls mentioned above are all found on the Upper McCloud. The Upper McCloud is also a popular destination for kayakers. There is an improved campground called Fowlers on the Upper McCloud. The Upper McCloud above Upper Falls is rarely stocked and locating the fish often proves to be a challenge to most avid anglers while the section from Lower Falls to Upper Falls is stocked and is open to bait fishing. The Lower McCloud is generally a fly/artificial lure fishery and catch and release fishing is greatly encouraged.