A secret waterfall that can only be accessed by a hike along a train track? Sounds like a script directly from a Hollywood movie.
Just North of Redding, California in Shasta County is Mossbrae Falls California – a stunning waterfall that can only be accessed by train tracks. It’s hidden well, you have to know exactly where you are going to find Mossbrae Falls.
Most visitors don’t know about them. This hike is so unique, it made me feel like I was a kid again on a make-believe adventure.
In this post, I’ll be sharing exact directions to Mossbrae Falls, important tips for visiting and other key information to help you have a great (and safe) visit to the falls!
When my friend and I visited the falls, we left San Francisco at 6:30am on that Saturday morning, we loaded up her car and started driving North to Shasta County. About 4 hours later, we arrived outside of Dunsmuir, the small town at the base of Mount Shasta and along the Sacramento River. We were on a mission to find Mossbrae Falls.
The falls are fed by springs which creates an effect that looks like multiple waterfalls in one spot. They are HUGE and magical.
Where Is Mossbrae Falls?
I think Mossbrae falls is one of the best waterfalls in Northern California. I think it’s sometimes also called the ” Dunsmuir Falls” because they are in the city of Dunsmuir.
Dunsmuir in Shasta County near Redding and the town of Shasta. Mount Shasta is a famous (and really pretty) mountain that’s known for winter recreation almost year-round. This area is rustic and beautiful.
San Francisco to Mossbrae Falls: 272 miles (4 hours, 17 minutes)
Redding to Mossbrae Falls: 56 miles (56 minutes)
Sacramento to Mossbrae Falls: 214 miles ( 3 hours, 20 minutes)
Mossbrae Falls themselves are located about 1 mile along the Union Pacific Railroad in the middle of the woods. We visited during October and were treated to beautiful fall colors!
2019 SAFETY UPDATE
It’s really important to note, before we get started on sharing exact hiking directions to the falls, is that Mossbrae Falls are on private property and can be extremely dangerous to hike to. The land is owned by the religious group St Germain Foundation Mossbrae Falls.
I didn’t really realize this when I went. My friend Justina and I decided to go hiking up here and she heard about these waterfalls from a friend who gave directions. We hiked back in 2017 and I see now that back in 2018 local law enforcement started cracking down more on hikers.
Because there have been a few Mossbrae Falls deaths. You have to hike miles on an ACTIVE train track. When we visited 2 trains were running. It doesn’t take a genius to know that hanging out around an active railroad track eventually leads to deaths.
Wondering how to get to Mossbrae Falls legally? Currently, there is not an option but I have read reviews on Mossbrae Falls Alltrails (a hiking site) that say local law enforcement is working on extending the Hedge Creek Falls trails. I don’t think it’s open yet.
Here’s the thing: I’m not going to tell you not to go hike Mossbrae Falls. I did it, it’s not fair to show you all these photos & rave about how cool the falls are and then tell you not to go visit yourself. If you want to, you should.
BUT, if you do visit, please be careful! Understand that you may encounter law enforcement. Understand that hiking on train tracks is not safe. Don’t bring children or animals.
Be safe, be respectful, use your head. And, of course, keep reading this post so you know exactly what to expect & know my other safety tips PRIOR to hiking.
Ok, Mom rant over. Let’s chat hiking directions & tips!
Mossbrae Falls Trail Directions
- Park outside the Shasta Retreat along Dunsmuir Ave on the road. Should be plenty of street parking! (Some people like to park on Scarlet Way up the road to keep their car hidden from sight.)
- Walk towards to arching sign that reads SHASTA. It heads downhill.
- At the bottom of the hill, cross the bridge. The railroad tracks are on the far side of the bridge.
- At the train tracks, turn right and walk about a mile along the tracks. It’s an active track, so please be careful and watch for trains.
- The falls are located to the right of the second tall bridge. Don’t cross it – instead, head into the trees. You’ll hear the falls before you see them.
Under the sign, across the bridge, down the train tracks a mile. Through the woods to the waterfall…
We went up in November, so the trees were orange and red. The air was crisp but not yet cold. There was some sunshine, the cool winter sunshine that only comes this time of year. We met a few other hikers on the train tracks to Mossbrae Falls, but for the most part, it was just us two.
Remember, this isn’t like other hiking trails. You’ll be on tracks, so make sure to wear sturdy hiking boots! Once in college, I was on my way to a party and I tried on light rail train tracks. Slipt my toe open and gushed sooo much blood. Still, have the scar
Luckily we were just a few blocks from our apartment, so I was able to get first aid, but if you injure yourself out on these tracks, you’re in the middle of nowhere.
What To Bring To Mossbrae Falls
Mossbrae Falls weather varies a LOT. In the summer, this area can get very hot. In the winter, there’s snow. Make sure to check local weather to figure out how to dress!
- hiking boots
- hiking backpack
- fully charged phone
- Camera (a wide angle will be helpful for best Mossbrae Falls photography!)
- In the summer, light clothes as it gets HOT
- In the winter, dress for snow
Arriving at the falls was what I can only describe as a magical experience You can hear them for about a quarter of a mile away – rushing water hitting rocks. As you step off the train tracks and start walking through the trees, we caught a couple of glimpses of the waterfall.
We started walking faster with excitement. When we finally broke free of the trees and into the base of Mossbrae Falls I feel like I stepped into a Narnia movie. The waterfall is huge, it almost looks like 4 waterfalls smooshed together.
There are green vines hanging over the creek which leads to the Sacramento River and trails away into the mountains. You can’t hear the traffic. You may hear a train passing by on the tracks, but it somehow adds more mystery and magic to the whole experience.
We had the place to ourselves for about 20 minutes before another small group arrived.
Where To Stay Near Mossbrae Falls
It’s a long drive from major cities. When my friend and I went, we spent the night in Redding at a hotel.
I was just actually recently up in the Mount Shasta area on a Northern California road trip. We rented a campervan and camped right below Mount Shasta peek. We did free wild camping.
Check out one of these area hotels so you don’t have to drive back to the city after your hike!
Railroad Park Resort: The famous Dunsmuir train hotel which rooms made from train cars!
Cave Springs Cabins: Basic cabins with kitchens
Sand Flat: Free wild camping right under the Mount Shasta peek. Stayed here on our road trip!
Mount Shasta Resort: A large resort with a golf course
Mossbrae Falls Dunsmuir is one of those United States hidden gems that I hope always stay magical. If you are planning a trip to Redding, Lassen Volcanic National Park or Mount Shasta, make sure to set aside a morning to hike to these falls. You won’t regret it.
If you are looking for other Northern California Waterfalls / nearby area Mt Shasta waterfalls, check one of these falls out:
I plan on visiting the area again this fall to do more hiking and visit some of the other waterfalls. I’ll update this post with other fun things to do in the area after our visit!
Got any questions about the hike to Mossbrae Falls? Leave a comment below or DM me on Instagram @thewhimsysoul and I’ll be happy to help! If you visit the falls, also use #whimsysoul on Instagram so I can see your photos!
Remember: stay safe. Don’t be stupid. And you’ll be fine.
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