It’s been said that Redding, California sits as the gateway to the Northern California wilderness. That may be true, but there’s also plenty of outdoor adventures to be had within the city limits.
With its trails being dubbed “the gem of the U.S. Trail System” by the San Francisco Chronicle, Redding’s newly developed and connected trails are one of the highlights of the city’s claim as one of the great outdoor towns in the country. Boasting more than 225 miles of trails within 15 miles of the city, there’s no shortage of opportunity to get outside.
There are a lot of options in this massive trail system. Of course, we can’t go through every single mile of this trail system. For more information, request a Visit Redding trail guide or see it virtually here. Here’s our complete guide to the 225+ miles of trails in Redding, California:
Sacramento River National Recreational Trail
The Sacramento River Trail, spanning 17 miles from the Sundial Bridge to Shasta Dam, is the crown jewel of the Redding trail system. Delivering unparalleled views of the Sacramento River, Keswick Reservoir and Shasta Lake, this trail includes some of the most iconic destinations in the area.
The winding trail is popular with locals and visitors alike who want to take a casual stroll, a beautiful bike ride, or a long run. Parks, bathrooms, trailheads, and scenery along the trail make it a convenient and pleasant way to get some fresh air while enjoying Redding’s famous river.
You’d be hard pressed to find a more pristine area in Northern California than the Whiskeytown National Recreation Area. Whiskeytown Lake is the centerpiece of the park that includes four waterfalls, hundreds of miles of trails and a beautiful beach.
Sitting just 8 miles west of Redding, Whiskeytown is loaded with dozens of miles of great hiking trails, many of which lead to stunning views or pristine waterfalls. As of today, much of the southern trails remain closed due to damage incurred during the Carr Fire, but the northern hikes still offer beautiful scenes for the whole family. The hikes to Whiskeytown Falls and Crystal Creek Falls remain a popular outdoor destinations for Redding locals.
To learn more about which trails are open in Whiskeytown, go here.
On the western edge of Redding sit the Swasey Recreation Area, which offers 35 miles of trails for hiking, biking and horseback-riding. This area is particularly popular for the local mountain bikers who can ride the world-class trails just a short drive from home. Swasey’s trails provide great views of Lassen Peak, Mount Shasta, wildflowers, streams and gold mining encampments.
Some trails follow historic mining ditches while others climb steadily to Mule Mountain Pass before connecting to Whiskeytown NRA. Outstanding views of the surrounding area are abundant on the Mule Ridge trail.
A popular and moderately challenging mountain biking loop is to start at the Wintu Trailhead and make a counterclockwise loop by heading out on the Wintu Trail, climbing up the Escalator, riding around Mule Mountain, take a climb to Mule Mountain Summit, then return to the parking lot via Snail Trail and the Mule Mountain Trail. Another fun loop is to start at the Oak Knoll Trailhead, ride up the Mule Ridge Trail, down Cosmos Way, and back to the trailhead via the Princess Ditch Trail. For mountain bikers, be sure to check out the Enitcer trail, a purpose built jump line. At the bottom, climb back to the top via the Owen’s Run trail and take another lap.
Sacramento Ditch Trails
While the calmer Sacramento River Trail progresses down the west banks of the Sacramento River, the Lower and Upper Sacramento Ditch Traisl are the more rugged alternative on the east side of the river.
Following the historic ditch that once brought water to the early gold miners of the north Redding and Shasta Lake City, the Sacramento Ditch Trails are most known for the nearby vicinity to Chamise Peak, a popular hike for locals. Beginning at the Shasta Dam Visitors Center, a 13-mile roundtrip hike to Chamise Peak will give you stellar views of the area.
The Sacramento Ditch Trails will give you beautiful views of Shasta Dam, Keswick Reservoir and the Sacramento River, all with a little historical context to boot. Keep an eye out for evidence of the conveyor belt that once supplied gravel form the Turtle Bay area of Redding to the construction site for Shasta Dam.
Clear Creek Trails
Hike along historic Gold Rush territory while taking in the beauty of one of NorCal’s most pristine waterways in the Clear Creek trail system, sitting in the southwest corner of Redding.
The most popular trail in the area is the Clear Creek Greenway Trail, which is home to abundant wildlife and fascinating history of the Gold Rush. If you choose to hike it during salmon spawning season, your sure to see some spawning activity from the Clear Creek Gorge Overlook.
You can also hike the Piety Hill Loop, which includes open grasslands and oak woodlands with fantastic views of Clear Creek Canyon and the Sacramento Valley.
If you want to enjoy a fun trail with 360 degree views of Mt. Shasta, Lassen Peak, the Trinity Alps and Redding, the Westside Trails area fun option for the whole family. These trails are great for dog walkers or wildflower lovers as it roams through the hills in the western portion of Redding.
There’s varying lengths of trails in this system and the main trail is 6.5 miles roundtrip. Be sure to keep an eye on which trail your using so you don’t get lost.
Churn Creek Trails
The Churn Creek Trails takes hikers on a classic walk through the woods right in the heart of Redding. This popular 3.6 mile loop winds through a series of woods, including classic blue oak woodland, with manzanita and gray pine. There are plenty of activities to do throughout and you can bring your dog on the hike.
These trails also connect to the Lema Ranch Trails, which include three different loops around 5 ponds, offering serene wildlife views throughout. Many species of wildlife can be spotted by the careful observer, including ducks, red-winged blackbirds, egrets, woodpeckers, and many other birds. In the winter, otters and muskrats occasionally show themselves in the ponds.
Have fun on your Redding hike! If you want to learn more, see the trail guide from Visit Redding. Or if you’re looking for a more popular hike in the wilderness surrounding Redding, see our 8 Gorgeous Day Hikes Around Redding, California