Brought to you by Visit Redding
It’s wintertime in Northern California, possibly having you believe that it’s not the time of year to visit your favorite outdoor destination. Quite the contrary, my friends. The winter provides a wonderful experience to head into the outdoors and if you have the right equipment, you can see them in their full glory without anyone around.
We all know that Redding is the gateway to the NorCal wilderness, so it only makes sense that there’s plenty to do in the winter if you strap on some snowshoes. With a little more effort, and a few extra layers, the wilderness is still right at your fingertips during winter in Redding.
Let’s go on 6 epic snowshoe hikes near Redding:
Hedge Creek Falls
If you’re new to snowshoeing and want a beginner experience, Hedge Creek Falls is the best hike for you. The trailhead is located right off Interstate 5 in Dunsmuir and the entire hike is less than a mile roundtrip with little elevation change. The payoff at the end includes a 35-foot waterfall cascading over a 12 foot cave.
If the weather’s bad, you can hike all the way down to the waterfall and take cover in the cave with the waterfall flowing right in front of your eyes. Not only is this a great adventure in the beautiful town of Dunsmuir, but you can trek the entire hike, with time to relax, in under an hour.
The flows of this waterfall can be slow during the summer months, but it comes alive in winter. It’s a must-see experience in Northern California.
The most popular lake in Lassen Volcanic National Park sits right at the north entrance of the park (closest to Redding) and allows visitors to explore an area of the park even when snow closes the road.
Manzanita Lake is popular for campers, hikers, fishermen and photographers during the summer months. Its views of Lassen and Chaos Crags can’t be beat as the peaks gloriously reflect off the lake below.
In the winter, you can see this winter wonderland by snowshoeing around the Manzanita Lake Trail Loop, which is only about 2-miles around the lake. Since Lassen’s highway closes for most of the winter, this is the easiest way to experience the snow-covered Lassen.
The hike to Heart Lake has become popular over the years, most likely due to its unparalleled view of Mount Shasta. But if you’re willing to make the hike during the snowy winter, you’ll likely have a gorgeous winter scene all to yourself.
The hike to Heart Lake begins at Castle Lake and heads up the hill towards the Castle Crags Wilderness. The hike is short, but straight up, so be prepared to take your time and make frequent pit stops. Once you get to Heart Lake, feel free to explore around to find the optimal view of Mt. Shasta and Black Butte.
For the more adventurous type, this area is also perfect for a backcountry ski adventure. Skinning up to the top and riding down is popular for locals.
If you go to the three tiers of McCloud Falls in the midst of summer, you’re bound to find droves of weekend warriors looking for a sunny day to see the spectacular waterfalls and cool off in the crystal-clear waters of the McCloud River. But in the winter, if you’re brave enough to snowshoe into the area covered in snow, you’ll probably have the entire place to yourself.
Depending on the road conditions, you may be able to drive right up to the overlook of Lower McCloud Falls, although be prepared to begin the hike at the Highway 89 turnoff if the road is covered in snow. Just remember: the more snow, the more remote your snowshoe adventure will be.
From the Lower Falls, you’ll snowshoe about a mile up the hill until you come to the biggest waterfall, Middle McCloud Falls. You can enjoy Middle Falls up close or get a panoramic view from the observation deck above. Another mile up the way is Upper McCloud Falls, which due to its location deep below a ravine, is difficult to see up close. But there are plenty of viewing opportunities from above.
Once you’ve made it to Upper McCloud Falls, the hike down to the car is a relaxing trek to rediscover all of the beauty you witnessed on your way up. And just a reminder, you’ll probably have the whole pace to yourself.
Here’s a quick video of snowy hike to the three tiers of McCloud Falls:
Sitting near the southwest entrance of Lassen Volcanic National Park is some of the most prominent evidence of hydrothermal activity in the area. Sulphur Works is an area of boiling mudpots and steaming vents that can only be accessed on snowshoes in the wintertime. With the park’s highway closed at the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center, a 2-mile roundtrip snowshoe hike to the boiling mudpots of Sulphur Works is the perfect way to spend a winter day outdoors.
If you’ve driven through the south entrance of Lassen, you’re sure to have passed Sulpur Works. It’s a boiling mudpot right off the side of the park’s highway that is popular for visitors looking to see hydrothermal activity without a long hike. In the winter, you’ll have to snowshoe to get views of the hydrothermal marvel and you’ll probably have the whole area to yourself.
Here’s our snowshoe hike to Sulphur Works:
There are many snowshoeing opportunities in the Mount Shasta area, but the trek to Faery Falls may be the most accessible of them all. While you may not be able to see the 19th century ruins of Ney Springs Resort if there is a lot of snow accumulation, the hike still provides plenty of beauty.
The trail is only 1.3 miles roundtrip, so even if your snowshoeing through heavy snowpack, it’s still an adventure that won’t take very long. And the waterfall payoff of the nearly 50 foot Faery Falls is well worth the price of admission (free). You could even make it a double trip by taking your snowshoes over to the nearby Lake Siskiyou, which offers unparalleled views of Mount Shasta.
With the easy access of snowshoes throughout Northern California, you have no excuse to take the winter off of an outdoor excursion, and these hikes are the perfect way to get your feet wet (wear heavy socks).
Northern California’s Outdoor Digital Newsmagazine