Are we one step closer to a safe trail to Mossbrae Falls?

Tim Holt
Mossbrae falls is a spectacular sight that’s difficult to get to on the current trail

Siskiyou County Sheriff Jon Lopey, citing safety concerns, has joined the effort to establish a dedicated trail to Mossbrae Falls in Dunsmuir.

Every year thousands of sightseers hike along tracks of the Union Pacific Railroad on a makeshift path to Mossbrae Falls. Over the years there have been numerous incidents involving Mossbrae hikers being hit by trains and seriously injured.

Lopey, in an Oct. 30 letter to Union Pacific, urged completion of a safe, dedicated trail on the railroad’s property to “reduce the likelihood of injuries, deaths, emergency incidents, and liability.”

Considered one of the most beautiful natural features in the northern part of the state, Mossbrae Falls spans about 300 feet. The falls seem to gush straight out of a lush, green hillside, providing a spectacular, cascading display for visitors.

The city of Dunsmuir and the Mount Shasta Trail Association are pushing for a short trail on UP property along the Sacramento River that would skirt along the river’s west side just below the tracks.

The railroad company has expressed general support for the project but has yet to give its formal consent for the use of its property for the trail.

But in recent weeks UP appears to be moving closer to that goal.

In response to Lopey’s letter, UP Director of Public Affairs Francisco Castillo acknowledged the safety concerns and said that the railroad is “committed to finding a mutually agreeable solution that addresses the concerns of all parties.”

Last week UP Corporate Relations officer Tim McMahan said there would be a meeting to discuss trail plans that would include railroad officials and trail stakeholders “at the soonest available date for all parties.” The Trail Association is hoping the meeting can take place by this January and preferably at the site of the proposed trail.

If the trail to Mossbrae Falls is completed, hikers will begin their trek at the Hedge Creek Falls Trail at the north end of Dunsmuir. That trail has recently been extended, on property owned by the city of Dunsmuir, all the way down to the river to the spot where a pedestrian bridge will be built so hikers can cross the river and hike the final stretch of the trail on UP property to the falls.

Lopey and members of the Trail Association have also been lobbying state and federal officeholders, including District 1 State Senator Brian Dahle, to gain their support for the trail project as it wends its way through the state’s environmental permitting process.

Trail supporters say they hope to get the necessary permits and UP’s formal approval by March, so that visitors can start hiking the trail to Mossbrae Falls by this summer.