No one in our group had run this stretch before and we lucked out with flows and road conditions. I had heard that the road is often snowed in when flows are good, so maybe we lucked out. I’m not sure and haven’t been back, but the Lower McCloud (McCloud Reservoir to Shasta Lake) was certainly worthwhile. It’s a full-day on the water and we had healthy flows. I’d imagine you’d be pushing the clock if flows were low and you were doing it in a day.
Most of the land surrounding the Lower McCloud is privately owned. There is a small piece of public land at the mouth of Claiborne Creek (river-left), which is where we stopped to take a breather and have a bite.
The second half of the run has some larger rapids than the first half. The largest drop on this trip was Tuna Falls and below Tuna there were some more interesting and Class IVish rapids.
I would definitely run the Lower McCloud again, but from what I understand it rarely runs at good flows for rafts. My understanding is that you should use the USGS gauge for the McCloud above Shasta Lake. 20% of the flow is a rough estimate of the flow you will have at the put-in. If someone knows better please comment below.