Llano Seco at sunrise is one of the most beautiful ways to spend a morning. We took a walk down the picturesque nature trail and saw lots of Pintail ducks, a Kestrel, Phoebe and heard the magical song of the Western Meadowlark.
The Llano Seco Unit is part of the North Central Valley Wildlife Management Area, and consists of over 1,700 acres, with wetlands, grasslands and some riparian habitats. Its close proximity to the city of Chico (about 10 miles to the southwest) makes accessibility a breeze.
Make sure you watch the video below to get a 360 degree taste of how scenic this spot is and how loud the birds and ducks are!
For more about the birds found in the area, visit my birding blog Wings and Daydreams. Here's the Fish & Wildlife website with more info, maps and directions on how to get to the refuge.
It's steps away from Lower Falls and next to the trail that leads to Middle and Upper.
Although it was closed when we went by, it looks like a beautiful place to camp. I did some checking and the campground is open from mid-April to mid-October and has over 30 sites for tents, RVs and trailers. There area also vaulted toilets and piped drinking water.
Read more about our hike to all 3 falls (and watch the video!) here.
Today's adventure takes us to the McCloud River Falls Trail!
Instead of driving to each waterfall individually, we parked in the Lower Falls parking lot and walked the 5 mile round-trip trail.
The trail was icy and slippery in some spots, but we adventured on to see the other two waterfalls...
I have to say, this was probably one of my favorite hikes so far. I know, I know, I've probably said that already about a half dozen other trails, but I really enjoyed this one. There's just something so magical about a trail that follows a river and I can't get enough of the wonderful sound of rushing water.
Middle Falls is a massive wall of water that you can hear long before you even come up on it...
I couldn't believe how much water was pumping through the Upper Falls. (You'll get a better idea of the power of it when you watch the video below.) Make sure you walk the trail that takes you up past it because the rushing river is just as fun to watch as the waterfall itself.
The fact that there are three uniquely beautiful waterfalls within a few miles of each other still blows my mind. And you don't necessarily have to take the full hike to them because they are reachable from their individual parking lots.
Without the treacherous ice, this trail would be an extremely easy hike, with just one steep spot and some stairs to climb to reach the top of Middle Falls. We got an early start and arrived at the Lower Falls at around 8:30 a.m. and didn't see a single person during our entire hike. When we returned to Lower at around 1:30, there were a few people around the falls and just beginning their hike. These falls can get quite busy during the warmer months, so we were delighted to have the place to ourselves!
There's also a nice campground right next to the Lower Falls (Fowlers Campground) where we enjoyed our picnic lunch. It's closed for the winter right now, but I bet it's a great place to camp right there next to the river.
We will definitely be returning to this gem of a trail in the spring!