8 Water Adventures Near Redding, California

Brought to you by Visit Redding

Kayaking on Whiskeytown Lake

It’s summertime in Northern California, meaning we’re trading in jeans and button ups for shorts and tank tops. While the temperatures can reach triple digits on some days, we have the luxury of being close to plenty of natural air conditioning in the area – AKA water!

The areas around Redding are known for great water adventures. From the relaxing days on the lake to the whitewater excursions and fishing outings, there’s so much to do in the region on the water. Plus, it’s a great way to cool down when things heat up.

Here are 8 water adventures near Redding, California:

Shasta Lake

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 seems 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’s endless reasons why this destination is Redding’s most popular.

Read about an unforgettable day on Shasta Lake

Burney Falls

Flickr/Jeff, PJ and Taiki

Getting enough of the NorCal destination that President Theodore Roosevelt named the “Eighth Wonder of the World” just isn’t possible.

Located just north of Redding between Lassen Peak and Mt. Shasta in California’s lava country, is famous for its 129-foot waterfall, which cascades from Burney Creek down into Lake Britton. The falls are a sacred place for the Pit River Indian Tribe, who have held ceremonial rituals here for thousands of years.

The year-round falls are formed by melting snow from Burney Mountain, which travels through underground streams before hitting solid rock and flowing back to the surface. Each day, more than 100 million gallons of water plunge over the falls.

See our trip to the magnificent waterfall:

Read all about Burney Falls here

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.

Check out our kayaking adventure on Whiskeytown Lake:

Note: Repairs/Closures from the Carr Fire are still ongoing in the park. Please check here before planning your visit to Whiskeytown

Potem Falls

Flickr/Dan Hutcheson

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:

Read all about Potem Falls here

Manzanita Lake


One of the most popular places for recreation in Lassen Volcanic National Park 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. 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. When we recently took the short, flat hike around the lake, we were met with sightings of bluejays, Canadian geese, otters and multiple encounters with deer.

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.

See our hike around Manzanita Lake:

Learn more about visiting Manzanita Lake

Kings Creek Falls

Photo by Tai Hoang

King’s Creek Falls is popular with hikers and photographers alike, these roaring falls are some of Lassen Park’s most dramatic falls clocking in at around a 40 foot height.

The waterfall is an amazing act of transformation – the lazy, meandering, small stream that we drove by and hiked by has metamorphosed into a crashing and cascading waterfall. It is a grand view, and to stand by it’s base is to stand at the very point of transformation. We were not the only one with this idea, as photographers and videographers came to this point, exactly at sunset (another transition) the same as us.

See our trip to the waterfall:

Read about Lassen’s King’s Creek Falls

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.

Learn more about the Ahjumawi Lava Springs State Park

McCloud Falls

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:

Enjoy your summer adventure on the water in Northern California!

Active NorCal

Telling the Stories of Northern California

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