22 Spectacular Outdoor Destinations to Visit Near Redding, California in 2022

Brought to you by Choose Redding

Stunning views in the Trinity Alps. Photo by Ben Guernsey.

The year of the adventurer is 2022, and there’s no better play to find endless outdoor destinations than in Redding, California.

From illustrious peaks and pristine waterways, to massive waterfalls and low-traffic National Parks, there is simply no arguing the sheer beauty that surrounds Redding. The town sits as Northern California’s gateway to adventure, and it’s easy to get to. You can take a direct flight from Los Angeles, or find the town conveniently located on Interstate 5 just two hours north of Sacramento.

If you’re looking for a place to stay on your trip, Choose Redding allows you to find the best hotel deals on their website, and you can book your stay all in one place. While you’re there, check out their awesome trip builder to create your perfect trip to the Shasta Cascade.

Now that you have your accommodations ready, here are 22 outdoor destinations you must visit near Redding, California.

Lower Sacramento River

Flickr/Peter Alfred Hess

You don’t have to go far see this one. The centerpiece of Redding is the beautiful river that flows right through its center – the Sacramento River. There are so many ways to enjoy the river, either from inside Redding or all the way up to its headwaters in Mount Shasta.

This river is world renown for its fishing opportunities, but it also provides rafting, hiking or just some beautiful scenery. And you can’t forget the world-largest functioning sundial, which sits as the Sundial Bridge at Turtle Bay near downtown Redding.

Hedge Creek Falls

The beautiful Hedge Creek Falls cascades in front of a cave, making it the only waterfall around that you can hike 360 degrees around the flowing water. The hike is just a short 1/4 mile jaunt and it leads to one of the most relaxing outdoor destinations in Northern California.

Sitting in Dunsmuir right off Interstate 5, Hedge Creek Falls is the perfect place to experience nature without the rigors of a long, challenging hike. The lovely stroll will lead you to the 35-foot waterfall, where you can take in its beauty from the cave directly below it. You can also hike a little further down to a platform overlooking the Sacramento River and a far-off view of the mighty Mountain Shasta.

Whiskeytown Lake

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.

There’s something for everyone at Whiskeytown. You can hike a peak, visit a waterfall, go for a swim, enjoy the lake from a boat, go fishing, lounge on the beach or even do some water skiing. Whiskeytown is a local favorite for Redding residents and is a must-see destination for anyone visiting the area.

Bumpass Hell

Bumpass Hell, Lassen Volcanic National Park, California Lassen Volcanic NP 2015

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 mud pots, 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.

Kendall Vanhook Bumpass, a hunter/cowboy/prospector, discovered the area in 1864 while looking for stray cattle. During his first visit he broke through the thin crust of the earth and burnt his foot on the boiling mudpots below.

When he returned home and others asked him where he’d been, he replied “Boys, I have been in Hell.” Hence the name Bumpass Hell.

The moderate hike will take you to one of the most beautiful and fascinating hydrothermal sites in California. Be sure to stay on the boardwalk. You don’t want a similar fate to Kendall Bumpass.

Trinity River

The Trinity River weaves through the mountains just west of Redding, flowing for miles on your way to the North Coast along Highway 299.

The Trinity River is a designated as Wild and Scenic, meaning its beauty and stability are protected by the federal government. It’s also one of the best steelhead fishing rivers on the West Coast. Lots of anglers enjoy wade fishing it, but a boat is a big advantage because you can cover much more water. It’s also a fairly long fishery, so there’s plenty of opportunity to get away from other anglers.

The Trinity is also the perfect place for a whitewater rafting adventure. It is by far the most popular whitewater venue in the region, and the “Pigeon Point Run” (Class III) is at the top of the list. Depending on water levels, the drop at notorious “Hell Hole” can approach ten feet. Terror apparently has a name. For the more ardent adventurer, there is the Trinity’s Burnt Ranch Gorge Run. There you can test your skills (or demonstrate your insanity) on big, Class V rapids like Table Rock, Origami, Burnt Ranch Falls and Jaws.

McCloud Falls

In McCloud, California sits one of the premier outdoor destinations in Northern California. 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.

McCloud Falls, located just outside of Mount Shasta, California, actually consists of three different waterfalls, all with their own distinct personalities. The three tiers of McCloud Falls – Upper, Middle and Lower – provides visitors one of the best outdoor experiences in NorCal. It’s a beautiful hike to see all three waterfalls and in the summer months there is some great opportunities for swimming and recreation.

Shasta Lake

Photo by Brandon DesJarlais

The main attraction for most people visiting Redding is Shasta Lake, which includes California’s largest reservoir and America’s 9th largest dam – Shasta Dam. Spending a day lounging on a boat, hitting a couple wakeboard runs and tossing out a line for bass are the perfect way to spend a day in NorCal, and Shasta Lake provides these opportunities in spades.

From a boat, the water and shoreline of Shasta Lake seem endless. Giving the ceremonious hand wave to any nearby boaters gives a sense of community – a sense of carefree living that always puts my mind at ease. Lay out in the sun. Jump in the water. Repeat. It can be pure bliss.

Of course, a day on the lake can include a visit to Shasta Dam, Lake Shasta Caverns, or even a trip to the Little Backbone Creek natural waterslide. There are endless reasons why this destination is Redding’s most popular.

Subway Cave

When most people visit the Lassen area, they head directly to Lassen Volcanic National Park to see the many mountains, lakes and hydrothermal areas that make the park famous. But just outside the national park, sitting in the Lassen National Forest, sits a lava tube formed thousands of years ago that outdoor adventurers can hike through today.

Subway Cave now has stairs at the mouths of the cave enabling adventurers to make the hike through the entire lava tube. The entire trail through the cave is about 1/3 of a mile and includes different “rooms” to look at the smooth walls of the lava tube. The cave is dark and the floor is jagged, so be sure to bring a light in order to navigate the hike. The cave is nice and cool on summer days, and you can even make it a frozen experience during the winter.

Crystal Creek Falls

Lower Crystal Creek Falls is the only “man-made” waterfall in the Whiskeytown National Recreation Area though you might not suspect it.

When the Central Valley Project was designed in the 1920s, an important component of it was the diversion of a large portion of the Trinity River into Whiskeytown Lake, and from there, down into the Sacramento River. A 17-mile tunnel was created to transport the water underground from Trinity Dam to Carr Powerhouse, and the tailings were dumped in the area near Crystal Creek Falls.

When it is necessary to shut down Carr Powerhouse for maintenance or to clean the tunnel, a valve is turned and the excess water from the tunnel spills into Crystal Creek. When the overflow structure was built, the Bureau of Reclamation rerouted Crystal Creek about 50 feet to the left to make a shortcut over the cliff, creating a picturesque waterfall.

This is one of the easier hikes in the park, as the trail is mostly flat and lasts for less than a mile. Also containing picnic tables and barbeque grills, the Crystal Creek Falls Trail could prove a relaxing way to start the spring season off right.

Trinity Lake

Trinity Lake is routinely overshadowed by its lake brethren to the east – Shasta Lake – but it’s magnificent in its own right. Not only does the lake provide plenty of boating, fishing and hiking opportunities, it’s also a beautiful habitat for NorCal’s wildlife. In fact, the lake recently surpassed Shasta Lake as the largest population of nesting bald eagles in California.

Trinity Lake, held in place by the Trinity Dam and created by the flows of the Trinity River, holds three marinas that can assist with rentals and boat launching year-round. With its location in the middle of the mountainous Shasta-Trinity National Forest, the lake is known for its glassy conditions for wakeboarders.

Upper Sacramento River

Photo: Raft California

The Upper Sacramento River is much different than its lower counterpart, quickly flowing through valleys as it makes its way from Mount Shasta to Shasta Lake.

The water on the Upper Sac is perfect in the early summer and springtime, giving rafters continuous Class III rapids as they make their way through the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, with views of Mount Shasta and Castle Crags. You’re also guaranteed to see some spectacular wildlife as well as some big fish while you’re floating on one of California’s best fisheries.

Fishing the Upper Sac is very productive, although maybe not as easy as the lower section of the river. The best places to fish this section are between Lake Siskiyou and Dunsmuir, an area that has become well-known for its productive October Caddis hatch, which will put the trout in a feeding frenzy. Below Dunsmuir down to Shasta Lake can provide some great places to fish as well, you’re just going to have to work to find the right spots.

Castle Crags

Photo by Brandon DesJarlais

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. Maybe people prefer volcanoes to granite spires.

Whatever the reason for Castle Crags State Park’s relative anonymity, the destination certainly deserves a visit. From the hike to Castle Dome to finding waterfalls like Root Creek Falls and Burstarse Falls, there are so many reasons to make a trip to the legendary Crags.

Mount Shasta

Photo by Stephen Leonardi

What can we say about Mount Shasta that hasn’t been documented heavily on this site? The Crown of California is as beautiful as it is a mystery to everyone who gets close to it. It’s the perfect outdoor playground for anyone, and it sits just an hour north of Redding.

There’s so many ways to enjoy Mount Shasta. You can earn insane views of the active volcano from Heart Lake. You can hike the lush meadows of the lower elevation areas. Or you can drink from the headwaters of the Sacramento River at the bottom of the mountain.

On any given day, you’re also likely to see one of the magical lenticular clouds that make Shasta so famous. The clouds lend to the legends surrounding the area, including sightings of aliens, Bigfoot and the beings living inside the mountain – Lemurians.

Potem Falls

Right in the middle of waterfall country, there are so many beautiful falls to explore year round. You may choose to see hike the three tiers of McCloud Falls or event the waterfalls of Whiskeytown. But there’s another large waterfall that’s a lot less crowded and can provide a blissful experience for anyone that visits.

Potem Falls is a 70-foot waterfall on the Pit River arm of Shasta Lake and for good reasons, it has become a popular weekend swim spot for locals. 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.

Lake Shasta Caverns

While most people head to the lake for sunny vibes, there’s also an awesome experience you can find underground. Lake Shasta Caverns is a network of caves located near the McCloud arm of the lake and is one of the most unforgettable cave adventures found in the country.

The tour begins with a long downhill hike to the patio boat that carries you to the other side of the McCloud River arm of the Shasta Lake. Once you arrive at water level, the boat ride is wonderful. Though Shasta Caverns is only a short drive north of Redding, you may be shocked by how otherworldly it really is.

Once in the cave you are ushered through chambers of all sizes, some up a flight of stairs, some down. Each cavern has a name, and a story. Though I have been known to get claustrophobic in tight places, I’ve never felt that way inside Shasta Caverns. There is so much to see and too many great stories to listen to. The tour takes at least an hour, and the time flies.

Ahjumawi Lava Springs State Park

Probably NorCal’s best kept secret is the Ahjumawi Lava Springs State Park, most likely due to its remote location in northeastern Shasta County and the fact that it can only be reached by boat. But the area with about 13 miles of shoreline has three campsites and nearly 20 miles of accessible trails in the area. If you’re willing to put in the work to get there, it’s worth the trek.

Named after the Achomawi (a band of the Pit River Indians) that inhabited the area for centuries, the park’s 5,930 acres is covered in jagged lava flow rocks and remains one of the nation’s largest systems of underwater springs in the U.S. The park was once a muskrat farm in the 1930’s, and the little critters can still be seen in the area, along with remnants of Native American fishing traps on the water.

Trinity Alps Wilderness

Photo by Eric Sheffer

The Trinity Alps Wilderness, located just northwest of Redding, is a gorgeous mountain range providing backpackers with stunning views, pristine high-alpine lakes, and unmatched wilderness isolation. It’s the perfect place for an outdoor adventure in the summer months.

For campers and backpackers looking for an introduction to the Trinity Alps Range, Caribou Lakes Trail is the perfect route! Along the trail, hikers run into enormous Caribou Lake (72 acres), Lower Caribou Lake, as well as stunning Snowslide Lake, and a series of other smaller pools.

We also recommend taking the difficult hike to Grizzly Falls. Considering its length (14 miles) and altitude change (5,400 feet), Grizzly Creek trail doesn’t exactly fit into the category of “casual hikes.” Following the motto “nothing worth doing is easy” though, Grizzly Creek Trail’s grueling hike leads to one of the best if not THE best payoffs in Northern California.

Pit River

The Pit River is a legendary tributary that flows through rugged terrain from eastern Shasta County to Shasta Lake.

For fishing, the Pit is rugged wading but chock-full of wild rainbow trout (and a few browns). Below Lake Britton is a series of dams and powerhouses carving the river into distinct sections, and some of these sections are quite remote. The farther you are willing to hike, the better the fishing is likely to be. With a little hiking you will not see another angler all day long. There’s a lot of Pit River to fish between Lake Britton and Lake Shasta. The section below Lake Britton Dam sees a lot of fishing guides and clients.

Although rafting/kayaking is not easy due to its rugged terrain, it’s certainly not impossible on the Pit. Most of the daredevils you’ll find on this river are near Pit River Falls, where you can launch down a long chute.

Pit River Falls is easily one of the most underrated waterfalls in NorCal, most likely due to the fact that the hike to see it isn’t easy. So a more matter-of-fact way to get to the falls is to kayak it. There’s only one problem – once you reach the falls in a kayak, you have to plunge over it, right?

Lassen Peak Summit

Photo by Hari Panicker

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.

Hat Creek

This smallish spring creek southeast of Burney is a shrine to fly fishing and wild trout. Wild-eyed anglers, sometimes waving bamboo rods worth more than my car, drool if even one of these ultra-selective trout looks at their fly. It isn’t really that tough, but the more skill you have, the better.

The success of transforming the fishery from a put-and-take fishery in the 1960s into a world-class, wild trout Mecca inspired the formation of California Trout and the California Wild Trout Program. If you’re into it, this is the Vatican of California fly fishing.

There aren’t many opportunities to enjoy Hat Creek if you aren’t fishing, but taking in its beauty in eastern Shasta County is well worth the trip.

Whiskeytown Falls

Photo by David Wood

There are officially four waterfalls in the Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, but Whiskeytown Falls stands apart as the biggest and most popular to visit in the area.

Also known as Hidden Falls, this 220 foot-tall beauty, for years, remained an all but hidden treasure except for those fortunate enough to find its remote location. Before the establishment of the Whiskeytown National Recreation Center, there was no trail to this waterfall leaving loggers, miners and bushwhackers as the only beneficiaries of this stunning display of Mother Nature. Just recently, in 2004, a park biologist “discovered” the waterfall, and it quickly developed into one of the park’s top tourist attractions.

The 3.4-mile trail to reach the waterfall is a great combination of natural beauty and history of the region. The James K. Carr Trail presents a moderate to difficult hike, passing over Crystal Creek and along Mill Creek throughout.

Heart Lake

Photo by Stephen Leonardi

Sitting an hour north of Redding is the mighty Mount Shasta, surrounded by lovely alpine lakes, rivers, and waterfalls. One of the most popular lakes to visit sits just outside of town, with possibly the best view in all of NorCal.

Sitting just above Castle Lake is the smaller Heart Lake, and boy does it pack a major punch. The 2.4-mile roundtrip hike takes you up the mountain to get views of Black Butte, Mt. Shasta and the south side of Castle Crags. It’s a popular place for photographers and hikers in the summer, and if you’re willing to trek through the snow, you’ll find unparalleled views in the winter.

Active NorCal

Northern California's Outdoor Digital Newsmagazine

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