Why It’s Illegal to Hike to Mossbrae Falls (But People Do It Anyway)

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View of Mossbrae Falls

Some adventurers will do almost anything to fulfill their longing for adventure, even if it means breaking the law.

Mossbrae Falls offers one of the most spectacular views imaginable. However, is it worth risking your life and breaking the law? Some people know the potential dangers but visit the falls anyway.

So why is it illegal to hike to Mossbrae Falls, and should you do it? Let’s look and see!

About Mossbrae Falls

Many consider Mossbrae Falls one of the most scenic waterfalls in California. With more than 1,000 waterfalls in the state, that’s saying something!

The falls are 50 feet high and approximately 175 feet wide. The springs pouring down the side of the canyon wall and the flora covering it are breathtakingly beautiful.

However, accessing this gorgeous waterfall can be tricky as there’s no way to access it without trespassing. Is the view worth the $300+ fine and mark on your record?

While we agree that the falls are incredible, you might want to think twice about visiting them until the City of Dunsmuir finishes the pedestrian bridge across the Sacramento River. The bridge would make it easier and legal to access Mossbrae Falls. 

Where Is Mossbrae Falls?

About an hour north of Redding, California, is the tiny town of Dunsmuir, California, the home of Mossbrae Falls. The city sits in the northern portion of California, off Interstate 5. 

The falls are a part of the Shasta Cascade area. However, accessing the falls isn’t easy as they’re approximately a mile into the middle of a forest along an active section of railroad tracks for the Union Pacific Railroad. 

Accessing the falls requires walking along the tracks, private property of the Union Pacific Railroad. The St. Germain Foundation owns the land containing the falls. It prohibits access out of fear visitors will trash the site.

View of Mossbrae Falls

Where Does the Water Come From at Mossbrae Falls?

The water that creates Mossbrae Falls comes from several springs pouring out of the rocks.

However, since they spread throughout the rock’s surface, it creates the illusion that it’s one large waterfall rippling down the side of the stone. 

Why It’s Illegal to Hike to Mossbrae Falls

There are a couple of options for hiking to Mossbrae Falls. However, both are illegal because they require hikers to trespass onto private property.

The property owners have placed signage along the way indicating their desire for hikers not to trespass on their property. However, some hikers ignore the signs and continue toward Mossbrae Falls.

Keep in Mind: A dangerous hike you can do is Angels Landing! Here’s everything you need to know before you go

How People Illegally Access the Falls

Mossbrae Falls via Train Tracks 

This is the most popular trail for hiking to the falls. It is three miles round trip, one mile alongside the Union Pacific Railroad train tracks. Spending time near active train tracks is never safe and is not something we recommend.

There are some sections of the trail where hikers have no choice but to hike on the train tracks. You’ll likely receive a citation from law enforcement if they catch you on the tracks. 

View of Mossbrae Falls

Mossbrae Falls via Hedge Creek Falls

You can access Mossbrae Falls from Hedge Creek Falls, but it will require you to cross the river, and then you’ll still have a short walk along the active railroad tracks. Even if it’s a shorter distance, it’s still not safe. 

Injuries at the Falls

Two well-known incidents occurred along the tracks in 2011 and 2019, causing officials and property owners to close all access to Mossbrae Falls.

In one incident, a hiker was wearing headphones while on the tracks, and the other was a mother with her husband and children on their way to the falls.

Luckily, neither incident was fatal. However, these incidents should remind everyone that hiking along the trail is unsafe and not something anyone should undertake.

The second you pass the signs indicating that you’re trespassing, you’re breaking the law and risking your safety.

Pro Tip: Be prepared for any emergency situation with the Best RV Emergency Kit!

The Dunsmuir city council is working with Union Pacific Railroad to develop a plan to make the trail as safe and accessible as possible. However, despite the city’s best efforts, their attempts have often fallen short. 

The railroad company owns the property and likely feels the risk is too significant to have individuals getting too close while their trains are speeding through the area.

However, they’ve done their best by restricting parking access and putting up the proper signage to warn visitors not to trespass. While the city is determined, there are no immediate promises or indications that the project will start anytime soon.

View of Mossbrae Falls

Hike Mossbrae Falls at Your Own Risk

While we think Mossbrae Falls is an excellent site, we only recommend places you can legally visit.

We’d love to see the Dunsmuir city council and Union Pacific Railroad team up and make the falls lawfully accessible to the public. However, we know that busting through the red tape that a project like this requires isn’t quick or easy.

 If you choose to hike to the falls, don’t say we didn’t warn you!

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