It’s officially winter in Northern California, which means we’ll be trading in our shorts and sun-tan lotion for scarves and beanies. While there’s no better place to spend your sunny days than in NorCal, the area also brings a ton of activities to the table during the wintertime.
If you’re looking for a winter activity in NorCal, Redding is the perfect gateway to adventure. Surrounding the city has all sorts of winter outdoor experiences, and even a few that you can hide from the rain and have some fun inside.
Here are 7 incredible winter adventures near Redding, California:
Snowshoe Hike in Lassen Volcanic National Park
While many of the trailheads and activities close for the winter months in Lassen Volcanic National Park, the snow provides unique experiences of seclusion for anyone brave enough to venture into the snow. The best way to experience Lassen in the snow is on snowshoes, where you can hike to the best spots and see them in all their winter glory.
The most popular snowshoe hike in Lassen is Manzanita Lake due to its proximity to the north entrance and relative ease of the terrain. The trek surrounding the lake is full of incredible views of Lassen Peak without the crowds you’ll find in the summer. Another easy hike is Sulphur Works near the south entrance, which is just 2-miles roundtrip and can give you winter views of the boiling mudpots of the park.
If you are new to snowshoeing and would like a little help, consider a ranger-led snowshoe hike at the south entrance of the park. This will give you great educational opportunities to learn from a Park Ranger, and they even provide the snowshoes!
Want more info? Learn about 13 Snowshoe Hikes in Lassen Volcanic National Park
Catch a Fish
We’ve written ad nauseam about how Redding is the fishing mecca of California, and it’s no different in the winter.
The Trinity River, sitting just west of Redding on Highway 299, is best known for one thing – an epic steelhead run.
Like salmon, steelhead possess the extraordinary ability to sense their native rivers from more than a thousand miles away in the open ocean. When it is time to spawn, they need no directions. Humans have tried and failed to understand this without success, and even the best GPS units cannot compare with a steelhead’s innate ability to find home. Every steelhead knows where home is.
When this run occurs between October and November, the fishing on the Trinity River becomes world-renown. See for yourself:
There are many spots to fish the Lower Sacramento River all the way down the valley, but it seems like the hottest fishing area on the river lies right in the heart of Redding. Flowing under the Sundial Bridge, through the town of Redding and out to Red Bluff, you will find a ton of great Rainbow Trout on the Sacramento River.
It’s quite an experience. If you would like to learn more about fishing the Sacramento River, I would recommend picking the brains of local guides, like the Kennedy Brothers or Chris King. Or you could stop into the Fly Shop in Redding for some tips.
Describing a time of year when this small impoundment east of Burney doesn’t fish well can be a real challenge. But when cooler weather sets in Baum Lake tops a short list of fisheries that might actually be at their best when temperatures take a nosedive. Even though it does get pretty cold up there in the wintertime, sitting in a small boat or casting from the bank hooking fish after fish tends to keep attitudes toasty warm.
Anglers never need to wonder if they’re fishing in the right place. There are healthy populations of wild rainbows and browns, plus the lake receives generous allotments of hatchery fish throughout the traditional fishing season. The bounteous food supply even allows hatchery fish that elude capture long enough to grow to prodigious proportions. There is a five-fish limit at Baum Lake, any method of take is allowed (no hand grenades, please) and it’s open to fishing year-round.
Mt. Shasta Ski Park
Probably the most popular winter activity near Redding is to go for a ride down the slopes of Mt. Shasta Ski Park. Just over an hour drive from Redding, the locally owned ski resort is a great place for the whole family during the wintertime. Whether you want to ski a black diamond, go tubing down the mountain or just relax with a hot chocolate in the lodge, this really is the best place for a winter adventure in the area.
The ski resorts boasts three main ski lifts with 425 acres of skiable terrain across 1,435 vertical feet. There’s also a bunny slope for the newbies and tubing for the kiddos. For the adventurous skiers or snowboarders, there are three terrain parks (depending on conditions) for the beginner, intermediate and advanced riders. Heck, you can also stay in a slopeside cabin and ride all the backcountry your heart desires!
The national sport of winter across America is probably sledding, and there are plenty of spots to do it near Redding. Obviously, you can put your sled on any hill and go for a ride, but here are two nearby sledding hills that are popular for local families:
Anybody that grew up in the area most likely has a memory of sledding at Snowman’s Hill in Mount Shasta. The designated sledding hill, located on Highway 89 right across the road from the Ski Park Highway, is usually packed with enthusiastic sledders on a snowy weekend day. The average run is about 300 feet and there are ample parking and bathrooms for visitors.
Located just past the north entrance of Lassen Volcanic National Park is Eskimo Hill, a big sledding area that gets a ton of snow in the winter. It’s a large hill, making it perfect for the young kids to ride a short run or the adventurous youths to get some speed all the way from the top. The hill is equipped with great bathroom facilities and a big parking lot.
Hike to a Waterfall
There are plenty of people who spend the summer months chasing waterfalls in NorCal, but only the true waterfall enthusiasts know that wintertime is a spectacular time to see the nearby falls. When the rain and snow hit the foothills, the water trickling down to nearby waterfalls creates a splendid scene of gushing water and misty air.
Our favorite nearby waterfalls to visit in the winter are McCloud Falls, Burney Falls, Potem Falls, Faery Falls and Hatchet Creek Falls. The ones that are the most spectacular in the winter? Burney and McCloud Falls – bar none.
Need help finding a nearby waterfall? Check out our list of 17 Breathtaking Waterfalls Just Outside of Redding, California
Turtle Bay Exploration Park
If you just want to stay inside and avoid any potential rain or snow, a great adventure in Redding is the Turtle Bay Exploration Park, full of local educational opportunities and wildlife interactions. Right next to the Sundial Bridge, Turtle Bay is home to local exhibits that feature the history and outdoor destinations of NorCal. You can learn about the salmon runs, local Native American history or the wildlife indigenous to the area.
But probably the best part about Turtle Bay is its onsite wildlife, and during the winter you can enjoy there amazing Survival Indoor Animal Show:
We recently took an amazing trip to Turtle Bay Exploration Park in Redding. See what you can experience on your trip:
Drink a Craft Beer
If you don’t feel like venturing outside, or maybe are winding down from your winter adventure, Redding has a ton of great craft breweries to relax in the wintertime. Here are the four main breweries of Redding:
Fall River Brewing Co.
Although fairly new on the scene (founded in 2011) Fall River Brewing is sweeping Northern California with their great combination of year-round and seasonal hand crafted ales and lagers. This brewery has become a staple of the Redding community and their beers are aptly named after nearby outdoor destinations.
Their taphouse in Redding has become a favorite of locals, mostly because of their flagship beer – Hexagenia. This IPA is named after the Hexagenia mayfly hatch (the largest in North America) that occurs every year during the summer months on the Fall River. This bold IPA uses a blend of five different hops to create a shifting sensation of hop flavor and aroma.
Woody’s Brewing Co.
Woody’s taphouse in downtown Redding is a family-owned operation that brings tasty food and craft beers to locals and visitors alike. The food is delicious, but its award-winning beers like the Hopzerker, Pray for Powder Porter and Shasta Haze that keeps the taphouse full on a daily basis.
Final Draft Brewing Co.
Just over a year old, the Final Draft Brewing Company has made its mark quickly on the Redding beer scene, with great beer and a centralized location downtown. The 6,000-square-foot brewery has 24 beers on tap, local wineries featured, live entertainment on the regular and games of corn hole keeping visitors having fun.
Although originally located in Red Bluff, Cedar Brewing opened a massive taphouse in downtown Redding and is a great place for friends to hang out or catch some live entertainment. Beers like their Rocky Pond Red and Manton Hopper are favorites with the locals and will have any visitors enjoying their winter day indoors.
Have fun on your winter adventure near Redding, California!
Northern California’s Outdoor Digital Newsmagazine