Aerial view of the Sundial Bridge and Sacramento River in Redding, California.
Sheraton Redding Hotel at the Sundial Bridge in Redding, California
Two woman toasting at Lake Shasta Dinner Cruise in Redding, California.
Conference event at Redding Civic Auditorium in Redding, California.
Aerial view of the Sundial Bridge and Sacramento River in Redding, California.
Sheraton Redding Hotel at the Sundial Bridge in Redding, California
Two woman toasting at Lake Shasta Dinner Cruise in Redding, California.
Conference event at Redding Civic Auditorium in Redding, California.

Where to Find Adrenaline Pumping Adventure in Redding, California

By Zach O'Brien | 08/12/2022

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 Sacramento River are some of the best trails on the west coast.

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.

Of all the outdoor activities to do in Redding, kayaking may be the favorite among locals. Not only was kayaking named Redding’s “weird obsession” by Time Magazine, there’s also a ton of beautiful lakes and rivers around the region that will leave you “obsessed” with our favorite pastime. 

Whether it's a river flowing right through the city or a nearby lake with crystal-clear water, there are a ton of kayaking options in Redding. Our favorite local areas for a relaxing paddle are Whiskeytown Lake, the Sacramento River or Manzanita Lake. You can also maneuver some whitewater on Clear Creek, the Trinity River or the Upper Sacramento River.

If you need to rent some kayaking equipment, there’s plenty of local options. Find everything you need in Redding at Action Sports Rentals, Jefferson State Adventure Hub, and Headwaters Adventure Company. At Whiskeytown Lake, the Oak Bottom Marina has everything you need and is located right on the water. On Shasta Lake, Holiday Harbor, Jones Valley Resort and Antler's Resort and Marina can provide anything you need to go out on a kayaking adventure.

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 want more information on rock climbing in the area, or simply want to practice your skills, we recommend you pay a visit to the Shasta Rock Club who have plenty to say on the subject.

Whether you're skiing, wakeboarding, or paddle boarding, 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-renowned 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. Marinas like Bridge Bay Resort, Shasta Marina at Packers Bay, and Silverthorn Resort and Marina all provide boat and wakeboard/ski rentals. Those resorts also offer jet ski rentals to get some speed on the water. Take in the beautiful Shasta views as you search for that adrenaline-pumping action!

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 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. If you’d like a more mellow snow activity, you can sled down nearby snowy hills like Eskimo Hill or Snowman’s Hill, both within an hour of Redding.

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