As the Gateway to the Northern California Wilderness, it comes as no surprise that extreme athletes flock to Redding looking for some adrenaline-pumping action. With hundreds of miles of trails, beautiful lakes and rivers and towering peaks surrounding the area, there’s plenty of opportunities for extreme sports in Redding.
If you’re looking to get extreme around Redding, here are all of your best options for every sport:
Redding has become a destination for mountain bikers. In fact, the San Francisco Chronicle once dubbed the town as a “secret mountain biking mecca” and there’s a track for everyone with a trail system over 200 miles in the area.
Visiting mountain bikers can get a taste for Redding’s ever-growing offerings by tackling a few of its iconic trails. Surrounding Whiskeytown Lake, Shasta Lake and the Scaramento River are some of the best trails on the west coast. Here are some of the best, sorted by riding style:
Beginner: Churn Creek Greenway makes for a mellow introduction to off-road cycling in Redding. This 3.5-mile, mostly flat gravel and singletrack route loops through a shady oasis of oak trees and grasslands along the creek. The Princess Ditch Trail offers a bit more of a challenge for beginner riders. The out-and-back ride climbs 310 feet over 7.7 miles and connects with several intermediate trails in Swasey Recreation Area, making it ideal for groups of varying abilities or introductory riders looking to test their mettle on a few miles of tougher trail without much commitment.
Intermediate: Trail 58/French Fry features a moderate climb and a flowy downhill sprinkled with some more technical sections. A 12-mile loop with 770 feet of elevation gain, the route includes a few miles of gravel trail and a short bit of road riding, with the main climb and descent on native-soil singletrack. The Swasey Mule Mountain Loop clocks in at 13.3 miles and boasts a little bit of everything, including technical rocky sections, fun switchbacks, a jump trail, and a sustained climb—all with spectacular views. Located just west of Redding, the Mule Ridge Trails connect to the trail system in Swasey Recreation Area.
Advanced: The Redding to Whiskeytown loop joins paved and dirt trails with plenty of singletrack for an epic 33-mile ride from Mary Lake to Whiskeytown National Recreation Area (which is partially closed because of wildfire damage; restoration work is currently underway) and back. Advanced riders will be challenged to a nonstop succession of climbs and descents and rewarded with excellent views from the Top of the World, plus exciting sections of jump trail.
In 2014, Time Magazine created a list of American cities and their weird obsession. While San Francisco was obsessed with brunch and Sacramento with costume play, Redding came in with a much cooler obsession – kayaking.
There’s no secret why Redding is the “unofficial capitol” of kayaking. Not only is it a fun, healthy activity, but there’s also an abundance of places to hit the water and go for a paddle.
When discussing rock climbing in the Redding area, there’s no better destination than the Castle Crags State Park. Towering 6,500 feet above Interstate 5 on the north end of Shasta County, Castle Crags is a popular place for outdoor adventurers to spend the weekend, but its tall rock faces make it the destination for rock climbers.
The climbs at Castle Crags range from 20 feet to 900 feet, and with walls like Pin Cushion Wall, Cosmic Wall and First Aid, rock climbers of any experience will find something to ascend. LOING with spectacular granite spires, domes and walls, you’ll also find unparalleled views of Mount Shasta throughout the area.
If you’re looking for a regular hike to explore Castle Crags, try the Castle Dome Trail, which is a 8.4-mile roundtrip trek to the top of the state park. Whatever adventure you’re looking for, you can find it at Castle Crags, especially if you’re a rock climber.
Whether your skiing, wakeboarding, paddle boarding or cruising around on a Jetovator, your best bet to get extreme on the water near Redding is either Shasta Lake or Whiskeytown Lake. While you’ll find a calm, blissful experience at Whiskeytown, Shasta Lake is world-renown for its size and a destination for extreme water sports.
Wakeboarders and skiers have been traveling to Shasta Lake for decades to find some glassy water, but there’s a new sport in Redding that has people buzzing and it could send you sky-high on the water.
The Jetovator is a water propelled, personal watercraft accessory that allows the operator to safely experience flight. The Jetovator is fun for everyone no matter the weight, height or age – all are up and flying comfortably in 5 to 10 minutes. Soar high above the water with this fun, propelled watercraft.
When the snow hits the ground during the summer months, the mountains surrounding Redding turn into a winter wonderland perfect for ski and snowboard enthusiasts. The obvious ski destination is the Mt. Shasta Ski park, which sits just over an hour out of town. But there’s plenty of other backcountry destinations for the advanced riders.
Just an hour east of Redding is Lassen Volcanic National Park, which sees its volcanic hills get covered in snow in the winter and the perfect place to go backcountry skiing. Ski routes like Brokeoff Mountain, Lassen Peak, Mount Diller and Eagle Peak are popular places to skin up and ride down.
Up north near Mount Shasta has plenty of other backcountry opportunities, the most popular being riding Avalanche Gulch above Bunny Flat. The route up the mountain is well marked but please keep avalanche conditions in mind when considering a trip.
Have fun on your extreme sports adventure!
Northern California’s Outdoor Digital Newsmagazine