Brought to you by Visit Redding
The sun is shining and it’s the perfect time of year to go on a day hike in Northern California. Since Redding sits as the gateway to NorCal’s wilderness, it’s the perfect home base to explore the various trails in the Shasta Cascade region.
The best way to see the vast areas of wilderness around Redding is to stay in the area and go on day trips. And boy are there a lot of options. If you’re visiting from out of town, there are so many hotels in the area, including the brand-new Sheraton Hotel right at the Sundial Bridge. You can literally walk out of your room and be on the Sacramento River Trail in minutes. The trail is also near downtown Redding, which hosts a bevy of delicious restaurants and charming bars to wind down after your adventure.
Here are 8 day hikes around Redding that are perfect for the outdoor adventurer:
Manzanita Lake Loop Trail
One of the most popular places for recreation in Lassen is at Manzanita Lake, which sits right at the north entrance of the park. In fact, it’s the closest destination in Lassen if you’re driving from Redding (a little over an hour away). At the lake, you’ll discover an area that’s chock full of wildlife and probably the best way to spend a relaxing day in the park.
Near the Manzanita Lake parking lot, you’ll find a small boat dock that launches kayaks and paddleboards into the lake that doesn’t allow motorized boats. You’ll most likely see fly fishermen on float tubes trying to catch one of the many brown and rainbow trout in the lake. You’ll also see wildlife – A LOT of it. The hike around the entire lake is just 1.9 miles and it will give you the relaxing day in the outdoors that your craving.
Manzanita Lake also gives hikers some of the best views of Lassen Peak in the park. Photographers flock to the lake to get the coveted photo of the volcano reflecting on to water, which is best seen during sunrise or sunset. Watch the video below to see what it’s like to take the relaxing hike around Manzanita Lake:
Castle Dome Trail
Castle Crags seems to hide in plain sight. Though clearly visible from I-5, the magnificent geological oddity receives less mention than other North State attractions. Whatever the reason for Castle Crags’ relative anonymity, the destination certainly deserves a visit. One of the best ways to experience Castle Crags is by hiking up its quintessential route, Castle Dome Trail.
Sitting less than an hour north of Redding, the Castle Dome Trail stretches about 5.5 miles roundtrip and increases in elevation a couple thousand feet. Before you take off from the trailhead, be sure to check out the vista point, which offers great views of Castle Crags, Castle Dome, Grey Rocks and Mt. Shasta. The four landmarks present an intriguing geological comparison.
Once you reach the top of Castle Dome, you’re met with one of the best views in NorCal:
McCloud Falls Loop Trail
In McCloud, California, just over an hour north of Redding, sits one of the premiere outdoor destinations in NorCal. The three tiers of McCloud Falls offers visitors three beautiful and unique waterfalls within a short hike. It’s the perfect place to bring the family to swim and enjoy the great outdoors.
The easy-to-moderate hike to see all three McCloud waterfalls is a popular jaunt for people in NorCal. The roundtrip hike is only 5 miles and you get to see Lower McCloud Falls, Middle McCloud Falls and Upper McCloud Falls. Lower and Middle are popular for swimmers in the summer and you can catch beautiful trout in the water year round.
See our hike to the three tiers of McCloud Falls:
Sitting in just outside Redding in Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, the hike to Whiskeytown Falls follows the James K. Carr Trail for a 3.4-mile loop to see the 220 foot-tall beauty. After a 1.7-mile hike up the hill, you’re greeted with the beautiful waterfall that sat hidden until 2004, and you’re going to want to sit down and enjoy its beauty for a while.
A unique feature this waterfall offers is the stairway that runs up the left side of it, which gives visitors an up-close view of the rushing water as it cascades down the fall’s rocky face. The stairs can get wet and slippery, so use caution, and be sure to hold onto the handrail when ascending the fall. Also, considering the trail weaves through old logging roads, on the hike, you get an interesting historical perspective on the economic activities that played a role in shaping Shasta County. Another appealing feature of the hike, running water parallels the trail the entire way making the experience all the more palatable on a sweltering summer day.
See our hike to Whiskeytown Falls (with a bonues trip to nearby Crystal Creek Falls):
Lassen Volcanic National Park is one of the best kept secrets in Northern California, as its a hotbed of volcanic activity surrounding its active volcano, Lassen Peak. This is no more evident as Bumpass Hell, an area of plopping mudpots, bubbling pools, and roaring steam vents sitting inside the park.
The descent to hell is easy. The 3-mile roundtrip hike gives you great views of Lassen Peak, Lake Hellen, Brokeoff Mountain, Mt. Diller and the dense valley below the trail at 8,000 feet elevation. It’s one of the more popular hikes in the park due to the dense scenery on such a short trek.
See our trip to Bumpass Hell:
Sacramento River Trail
The Sacramento River Trail, one of the most underrated features of our North State for lovers of stunning scenery, learning about the area and staying active. Used by a wide variety of people from casual hikers to hard-core runners, bikers, birdwatchers and even anglers, the trail connects with several other trail systems and offers one of the quintessential North State experiences.
The tree lined trail, which follows the Sacramento River all the way up from the Sundial Bridge to Shasta Dam, is a completely different experience in the fall than in other seasons. The colors turn bright and fallen leaves surrounding the trail give an animated boost to any adventure your looking for on the trail.
It’s hard to beat the experience you get when you’re standing at the summit of a significant mountain, especially when it’s an active volcano. The hike to the top of Lassen Peak is not a strenuous as one might think and you will experience amazing views of Lassen Volcanic National Park and the Northern California surroundings.
There’s no question why the Lassen Peak hike remains the most popular in the park. It’s not particularly strenuous and is a great memory for anyone looking to experience the beauty of the world.
Here is all the hike info:
Start: Lassen Peak parking area
Round Trip Distance: 5 miles
Round Trip Time: 3-5 hours
Terrain: steep 2000 foot elevation gain
Elevation: 8500 feet at trailhead, 10,457 feet at summit
Sitting just east of Redding on a remote stretch of water near the Pit River is a 70-foot waterfall that may just be Northern California’s most blissful experience. Potem Falls won’t get the attention of waterfalls like Burney Falls and McCloud Falls, but it’s the perfect testament to the beauty of the NorCal wilderness. While the hike down to the falls is easy, the drive is a little more difficult.
Located near Montgomery Creek, CA off of Hwy 299, Potem Falls is a 70 foot waterfall on the Pit River arm of Shasta Lake. For good reasons, it has become a popular weekend swim spot in recent years. The easy quarter-mile hike to the Potem Falls watering hole makes it an attractive option for families. If you desire some peace and quiet, take a mid-week trip to the falls when it’s often deserted. Potem Falls also makes for a romantic date spot.
Approaching the narrow, but scenic Potem waterfall, you’ll encounter a large pool perfect for swimming and lounging around. In Latin, “potem” means “to drink”, and after seeing the translucent water of Potem Creek, you might be compelled to do so. However, we don’t recommend it.
See our trip to Potem Falls:
Have fun adventuring outdoors near Redding, California!
Northern California’s Outdoor Digital Newsmagazine