Squaw Valley Creek - Cabin Creek Trailhead to McCloud River to Shasta Reservoir

Squaw Valley Creek, California, US


Cabin Creek Trailhead to McCloud River to Shasta Reservoir

Usual Difficulty IV(V) (for normal flows)
Length 22 Miles

Starting point of Squaw Valley creek

Starting point of Squaw Valley creek
Photo taken 06/19/11

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
Squaw Valley Creek above McCloud confluence
virtual-50649 400 - 1000 cfs IV(V) 02h22m 1400.7 cfs (too high)
cdec-MSS 800 - 2400 cfs IV(V) 02h50m 2568 cfs (too high)

River Description

Squaw Valley Creek is an excellent rainy season creek, with the added bonus of getting the last 10 miles of the Lower McCloud River. The combined distance of 20 miles can make for a very long day.  For the most part the creek is reported to be pretty continuous class 2 and 3 rapids.  However, there are two significant waterfalls in the first few miles.  At mile six, is a scenic gorge with about 6 class 4 rapids.  Other solid class 3 and 4 rapids are scattered throughout the run.  On a small creek like this, logs, log jams or brush could always cause problems.    Once boaters reach the McCloud, they will face 3 big class 4 rapids along with numerous smaller rapids and a big increase in the flow.  What more could you want?

Private Property: 
The first 5 miles of the creek below the trailhead are within the Shasta-Trinity National Forrest.  A trail follows the creek for this distance.   At Bear Trap Creek confluence, Squaw Valley Creek enters private property, (McCloud River Club?)  There is no further public property along this creek or the McCloud River till the take out at Gillman Road on Lake Shasta.  A private road follows Squaw Valley Creek from Bear Trap Creek to the confluence with the McCloud.   If you need to stop in the private property zone, stay within the high water marks, unless forced to scout or portage

Put in: Cabin Creek trailhead at the end of Squaw Valley Creek Road.   From I-5 take highway 89 to the town of McCloud.  In McCloud turn south on Squaw Valley road towards Lake McCloud for 6 miles.  As the road starts to leave Squaw Valley, turn right onto the dirt road leading to the Cabin Creek Trail.  The last 3 miles to the trailhead are dirt road.   Depending on road and snow conditions, you may have to park further upstream and carry to this point or possibly boat to this point.

Take out:  Gillman Road bridge over the McCloud arm of Lake Shasta.    Looks to be a long and winding drive to here from I-5, either via Gillman Road or Fenders Ferry Road.

Other Information Sources:  
Darin McQuoid Photography
Rapid Magazine Early Summer - 2010 Edition, page 28.
Squaw Valley Creek Trail - Mt Shasta Trail Association
Squaw Valley Creek Trail - Wildflowers
Squaw Valley Creek Trail map pdf
Shasta-Trinity National Forrest   McCloud office - (530) 964-2184


StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2011-06-28 18:57:34


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
2.515 foot WaterfallIV+Portage Waterfall Photo
3.08 Foot LedgeIVPhoto
5.0Beartrap CreekN/A
6.0Tom Neal Creek & Class 4 GorgeIV+Photo
12.0Confluence with McCloud RiverN/APhoto

Rapid Descriptions

15 foot Waterfall (Class IV+, Mile 2.5)


Photo by Laurel Genzoli taken 06/19/11

There is a good scouting view of this waterfall on river left.  You can also portage left over the rocks and down a crack to the pool.   The waterfall has been run on river right.

8 Foot Ledge (Class IV, Mile 3.0)

Chris Uhtoff waterfall picture

Chris Uhtoff waterfall picture
Photo taken 06/19/11

You can scout this waterfall on the left and also run it down the left.   A portage route is on river right.  

Beartrap Creek (Class N/A, Mile 5.0)

Beartrap creek marks the end of public property and the end of the public trail.   Squaw Valley Creek runs through private property from here down and a private road follows the creek  to the McCloud confluence. Stay within the high water mark unless forced to scout or portage.

Tom Neal Creek & Class 4 Gorge (Class IV+, Mile 6.0)


Photo taken 06/19/11

Tom Neal Creek comes in from the right just after a road bridge.    This is a major tributary.   It has been reported to contribute from 1/3 the flow up to equal the flow of the main creek.  It probably contributes a lower percentage late in the season and more during the winter.  

Within a couple hundred yards after Tom Neal Creek, get ready for the gorge.   After you run the first class 4, eddy out right just above the next drop.  You can scout all 5 remaining drops in the gorge by climbing up the hillside 20' and following the faint trail. You could portage all the drops in the gorge on this same trail as well.

Confluence with McCloud River (Class N/A, Mile 12.0)


Photo by Marsh Chamberlain pictures 1-9 taken 06/19/11

For descriptions of the rapids on the McCloud below this point, see the Lower McCloud page.  The major rapids on the McCloud below the Squaw Valley Creek confluence are:
Double Drop Falls
Tuna Creek Falls
Valhalla Falls

The land in this area is all private property, so stay within the high water marks, unless forced to scout or portage.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
June 6 2011 (2784 days ago)
Nick SindersonDetails
This is a fun class 4 run. It does makes for a very long day if done as a one day trip with low
flows on Squaw Valley Ck. If you're thinking about making a two day trip out of this run get
yourself a Shasta-Trinity National Forest map which will help you locate public property for
camping purposes. Flows for Squaw valley Ck. are not available online so a little educated guessing
is in order for figuring out if it's runnable. This is what I did; go to dreamflows, look for the
McCloud river, look for the flow at ah-di-na camp and at Shasta Res, Subtract the ah-di-na camp #
from the Shasta Res.# and if it's greater than 500cfs you should be good to go. I had a 550cfs
remainder and it was doable but we had some rock bashing for the first 5 miles of the creek before
tributaries added more volume. The rapids on my lowish run were mostly class 2 & 3 with the obvious
exceptions being the waterfalls at the beginning and the gorge just past Tom Neil Ck. This gorge is
a spectacular piece of class 4 whitewater and well worth the price of admission. We had 1,200cfs on
the McCloud at Shasta gauge and that's a great flow for the McCloud, especially if it's a first
time run, the McCloud will seem huge in comparison to Squaw Valley Ck. For us the write-ups on 'A
Wet State' and Darin McQuaid's site were valuable assets in preparing for making a run