Fall foliage on trees on the banks of a river.
McCloud River Preserve The Kerry Landreth Preserve at McCloud River: A Legacy for Nature and People © Levi Miller

Places We Protect

McCloud River Preserve

California

The Kerry Landreth Preserve at McCloud River: A Legacy for Nature and People

The McCloud River is one of California's aquatic jewels. Located near the top of California, north of the Sierra Nevada and at the southern end of the Cascade Range, the McCloud snakes its way down a scenic canyon beneath the rugged slopes of 14,000-foot Mount Shasta. The cool waters of the river roil with life. In the spring, clouds of emerging insects dance across the waters as they hatch, and trout are driven to fits of feeding frenzy. The McCloud has been a fisherman's paradise ever since its original inhabitants, the Wintu Indians, speared and trapped salmon and steelhead as the fish made their seasonal journeys from the sea.

Why the Conservancy Selected This Site

The Conservancy's initial objective for the McCloud River Preserve was to protect native fish and the watershed in which they occurred. An extensive biological study indicated that a portion of the preserve could be opened to carefully managed public use, including catch-and-release fishing. Three miles of the river were opened to the public in 1976; the remainder of the preserve is closed to fishing by State Regulation.

What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing

Research projects have ranged from analyses of trout populations to a study that attempted to document the presence of the elusive wolverine by baiting stations with various animal carcasses and using an automatic camera to photograph the animals it attracted. Because improving the health of the watershed is one of our main conservation goals, the Conservancy also monitors native species and water quality.

Concerned about the effects of logging and road-building along some of the McCloud's tributaries, the Conservancy has monitored the river's water quality by recording water temperature, suspended and settled sediments, pH, conductivity, dissolved oxygen, and turbidity. Staff ecologists also collect and identify aquatic insects, which provide food for many fish and other animals and are themselves a good indicator of water quality. The data helps inform decisions about the management and stewardship of the natural resources of the McCloud watershed. 

Kerry Landreth Reed

In 2017, the McCloud River Preserve was renamed in honor of Kerry Landreth Reed, a conservationist and angler with a deep history of engagement with TNC. She was a member of our California Board of Trustees and founded the California Leadership Council. Her passion, leadership, and belief in people made her a natural spokesperson for nature, and she gave her time and funds generously to support TNC’s mission. Kerry passed away in December 2017 after bravely fighting cancer for many years. The Kerry Landreth Preserve at the McCloud River is a beautiful place that was deeply meaningful to her during her lifetime, and that will now carry her spirit in perpetuity.

What to See: Plants

Pacific dogwood, redbud, wild rose, lupine, and many other plants bloom in the spring. The forests create beautiful canopies of Douglas fir, incense cedar, Pacific yew, canyon live oak, and ponderosa pine.

What to See: Animals

The world-famous Shasta rainbow trout shares the waters with the exotic (non-native) brown trout, first introduced by sportsmen in the mid-1930s. The McCloud was formerly the southernmost refuge for the bull trout or "Dolly Varden," which is, like the Shasta rainbow, a member of the salmon family. Although once a common sight, the bull trout has not been seen in the McCloud since 1975 and has been declared locally extinct. Riffle sculpin, another McCloud native species, abound in the cobble-lined portions of the river.

Beneath dense mixed conifer and oak forests, wildlife is active in the rugged canyons. Mountain lions prowl the forest along with wolverines, ringtails, and gray foxes. On the canyon's limestone outcrops are found two species, the Shasta salamander and a plant named the Shasta eupatory, that occur nowhere else on earth. Along the river, otters searching for a meal glide through large pools lined with white alder, Indian rhubarb, and horsetail. Black bears lope along trails beside the river, and bald eagles and osprey soar overhead.

What to Do

The McCloud River Preserve, open only from sunrise to sunset, offers three miles of hiking trails and a self-guided nature walk. Hikers, birdwatchers, and wildflower enthusiasts are invited to visit, but they should keep in mind that the preserve is snowbound during the winter months (November through early April).

For nearly 40 years, TNC has provided managed public use at this legacy project so that the community can enjoy limited catch-and-release fishing. Approximately 1,500 visitors come through the preserve each year, the majority of which are anglers fishing for rainbow and brown trout. 

The preserve allows 10 anglers to fish using catch and release techniques at any one time. Five of these fishing tags may be reserved through the Conservancy's San Francisco office by email: mccloudreservations@tnc.org, or by phone: (415) 777-0487. We begin taking reservations for the upcoming season at 9:00 a.m. PDT on February 1. Please note that each angler is limited to five reservations per season, two per month. To make a reservation, please provide:

  • First and last names of everyone in your party
  • Your phone number
  • Dates you wish to reserve (including alternate dates)

The remaining five fishing spots are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Reservations are held until 10 a.m. of the date reserved. Anglers may use spinning or fly equipment, but the creel limit is zero and fishing is catch and release only. Single, barbless hooks are required by state law. Visitors must sign in at the preserve entrance kiosk and record fishing results when returning tag and departing.

No pets are allowed on the property.

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