An Afternoon in Dunsmuir, CA

Anyone who’s traveled the 5 Freeway in California knows there can be long stretches of nothingness. Like the area between Redding and the Oregon border where you’ll view Mt. Shasta for miles while passing the occasional lonely exit. A few months ago my family and I were heading home from Oregon when we noticed a sign for Hedge Creek Falls and decided it would be a good opportunity to stretch our legs. Little did we know it would¬† also take us to the quaint town of Dunsmuir “Home of the Best Water on Earth.”

Dunsmuir, located in Siskiyou County, is nestled on the banks of the Sacramento River in the Trinity Mountains. In the late 1800’s the town was formed with the arrival of the Central Pacific Railroad and became a booming place during the era of the steam train. Once diesel entered the picture much of the work force left turning Dunsmuir into a small town with a vintage feel. To this day much of the buildings date to the 1920’s and 30’s giving it a quaint atmosphere.

On our mid-week visit it was quiet and the few shops still in business were largely shuttered save for Dunsmuir Hardware, in business since 1894 and still retaining its old world charm.

The town is home to an impressive firehouse, a beautifully restored theatre and fun neon signage but, perhaps due it its rural locale, seems to be largely overlooked.

In addition to it’s vintage architecture Dunsmuir is home to a lovely park on the banks of the Sacramento River.

It was wonderful to sit along the river and listen to the rushing water. The area is so quiet and peaceful and the air is so fresh and clean that it’s truly a slice of paradise.

Of course, we initially pulled off the highway to see Hedge Creek Falls and we weren’t disappointed. Though it’s literally right off the highway it feels like a world away. After walking along a short trail we came upon the waterfall.

It’s not the largest one I’ve ever seen but it’s certainly the most accessible.

Rushing over a small outcropping into a nearby stream we were able to observe it from all sides.

If so inclined I could have stood directly under it but it was a bit too cold. Instead I just enjoyed standing behind it and reveling in the beautiful nature that surrounded me.

When leaving Hedge Creek Falls we came across a drinking fountain containing “the best water on earth.” It turns out Dunsmuir is home to a natural spring which is fed from the glaciers of Mt. Shasta. Of course, I had to try it and it was ice cold and crystal clean. It certainly was the best water I’d ever had from a drinking fountain.

Dunsmuir is a quaint town lost in time. Next time you’re speeding up the 5 might I suggest slowing down and stopping for a spell? You won’t be disappointed.





  1. Jen July 6, 2018 at 11:09 pm

    Spent much of my childhood in Dunsmuir. Still feels like home …

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