The Top 10 Active NorCal Stories of 2018

By Zach O’Brien, Founder of Active NorCal

Phew! What a years it’s been! In 2018, we really caught our stride at Active NorCal, doubling our social media followers and quadrupling our website traffic. We’ve come a long way since we were a small print magazine in Shasta County in 2014. Now we reach millions of people from all over the state every month!

In May, we moved our entire website to the current iteration- – and have been able to provide a better experience to our readers (the dot com was being held ransom for years earlier by a URL troll). The transition proved to the right move as we now have better capability to provide a more immersive experience in our content. Our old website still sits untouched as a relic to the early years (

Unfortunately, this year in Northern California was full of negative news. Following the Tubbs Fire in 2017, I remember not being able to go outside due to the smoky conditions. That’s when I realized that any coverage of outdoor activities in NorCal had to include wildfire coverage. The two went hand-in-hand. We had no idea that meant we would be covering the horrific wildfire season of 2018. Covering the wildfires was surreal and an experience I will never forget.

As 2018 was our most successful yet, I am so excited to for the upcoming 365 days. This year, we expanded our coverage to great success and we are soon going announce are plans for expanded editorial in 2019, with more stories on a wider range of topics throughout Northern California. I can guarantee that our growth, as crazy as it was this year, will continue at a more rapid rate in 2019.

Many of our top articles in 2018 had to do with wildfires. It just couldn’t be avoided. Some of our favorite outdoor destinations burned and many of our friends and readers lost their homes. But I don’t want to rehash negative articles. This list shows our top articles in 2018 that were positive, and show the true beauty and amazing stories of Northern California.

Here are the Top 10 Active NorCal articles from 2018:

1. 13 Waterfalls in One Weekend: Northern California’s World-Famous Waterfall Loop

There is a legendary loop sitting in the Shasta-Cascade of Northern California that includes 13 incredible waterfalls to visit. Realistically, you could accomplish this entire loop in just two to three days, and see some of the world’s finest waterfalls right here in NorCal.

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2. Massive Sturgeon Caught on Shasta Lake

The stories of giant sturgeon in Shasta Lake have been circulating for decades. The giant fish are known to hang out near the bottom of the lake, typically eluding being seen or caught. But a photo was posted to social media on highlighting the capture of a massive sturgeon.

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3. The “Singing Samoan Fire Crew” in Northern California

A video of the “Singing Samoan Fire Crew” made its rounds on the internet earlier this year due to their uplifting spirit amidst the devastating Northern California wildfires. The crew is from the National Park of American Samoa, which is an unincorporated territory of the United States located in the South Pacific Ocean. They travel to the United States during fire season to help contain fires.

Read the full story

Side note: After this article was posted on our site, a new video emerged online of the Samoan Fire Crew at Whiskeytown working on the Carr Fire. That video received over 120K views:

4. Brand-New Adventure Park Opens in Northern California

Following months of delays, Quarry Park Adventures, a brand-new “adventure park” in Rocklin, opened to the public. The park features all sorts of adventures to visitors, including zip lines, rope courses, boating and rock climbing.

The park is located in the 160-year-old Quarry District of Rocklin, and the walls of granite surrounding the park make for a beautiful setting. The granite was also the cause of the delays.

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5. Farmer’s Almanac Predicts Cold, Wet Winter for Northern California

During the fall months in NorCal, as devastating wildfires continued to ravage local communities, the Farmer’s Almanac provided some hope with a forecast of a prosperous winter. At the time, it was just what NorCal needed.

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6. Lucky Fisherman Catches Giant 57-Pound Striped Bass on the Sacramento River

It was on April 7 around 6:30 pm when Billy Driessen hooked the catch of the lifetime on the Sacramento River below Chico, CA. After the fight of his life over ten minutes, Driessen landed a massive 57-pound striped bass. It was the catch of a lifetime.

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7. The Largest Corn Maze in the World Sits Right Here in Northern California

In Dixon, California sits a 63-acre Fall utopia with a pumpkin patch, hay rides and the largest corn maze in the world. And now, it’s being recognized as one of the 25 best in the United States. Cool Patch Pumpkins made Country Living’s list of the 25 Best Corn Mazes Across America, marking it as one of the premier destinations in Northern California this Fall season. 

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8. Incredible 300-Mile Northern California Coastal Trail Approved for Development

A brand new 300-mile trail from the San Francisco Bay to the Humboldt Bay was approved with a 12-0 vote in the Senate Transportation and Housing committee earlier this year. The bill will transform a train track through the beautiful and diverse North Coast into the Great Redwood Trail. The trail will begin on the north side of the San Francisco Bay and will go through Napa’s wine country before heading up to the Redwood forest area. It will continue along the banks of the Russian and Eel Rivers and on up the the panoramic Humboldt Bay.

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9. Remembering the Great Flood that Put Northern California Under 30 Feet of Water

The Great Flood of 1862 was the largest ever recorded in Oregon, Nevada and California’s history. The flooding occurred from December of 1861 until January of 1862, drowning the state in water and leaving much of the Northern Valley unlivable until the summer months of 1862.

The flood created a lake down the center of the state that was 300 miles long and 20 miles wide. It’s estimated that thousands of people were killed in Northern California during the event.

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10. Once a Northern California Boomtown, Now a Sunken City at the Bottom of a Lake

Kennett, California was once a boomtown in Northern California, prospering in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, with numerous stores, saloons, a hotel and a schoolhouse. Now, it sits at the bottom of Shasta Lake. And while the artifacts of this town are now lost to the 400-feet deep waters of the lake, we still have the photos and stories to map together what was once an important part of Northern California’s rich history.

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See you in 2019, Northern California!

Active NorCal

Telling the Stories of Northern California

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