Making Plans: Spring
The best thing about living in the North State is that no matter the season there’s always an outdoor adventure awaiting.
But springtime may top all the others.
The weather is delightful, the rivers and creeks are flowing, the lakes are full and the flora and fauna seem to pop.
And with the great weather beckoning, the only problem might be finding enough spare time to check off every box on your list.
From hiking to biking to exploring, the North State’s outdoor playground calls adventure seekers.
You can kill two birds with a waterfall exploration that loops around Northern California and while it can be done in a day, you’ll want to plan for multiple adventures. Trust us.
The first stop on any waterfall-hunting adventure is Burney Falls in MacArthur-Burney Falls State Park. Once called the “Eighth Wonder of the World” by President Theodore Roosevelt, Burney Falls is a 129-foot, spring fed cascade that flows all year round – 100 million gallons per day – but the thaw after winter brings about magical changes to the intermountain area. The oaks have begun to bud and the slightly cooler than average temperatures tend to be less busy than the extreme summer months when folks come to escape the valley heat.
Heading west on Highway 89 toward McCloud takes you to the next waterfall stop – the McCloud Falls. The Upper, Middle and Lower falls are all different in their own way, offering majestic spills and perfect picture opportunities. A trail links all three, but each has its own parking lot.
Headed back to Redding, Hedge Creek Falls allows sightseers the chance to see the back side of the cascade as you’re able to walk under the falls. Close to Hedge Creek Falls, but technically off limits is the sublime Mossbrae Falls.
Only accessible by wading across the chilly Sacramento River or walking up the railroad tracks, various groups have been working for years to make it more accessible. The falls are wildly popular despite the warnings and those who choose to head there are urged to be cautious and make sure, as they should anywhere in the North State, to leave it nicer than when they came.
Closer to home, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area has a quartet of waterfalls, one which remains closed while trail restoration continues following 2018’s Carr Fire. But those seeking a quick trip to see the falls are rewarded with Crystal Creek Falls, Boulder Creek Falls and Whiskeytown Falls. Brandy Creek Falls remains inaccessible for the foreseeable future.
Speaking of Whiskeytown, the trails in the park are almost perfect during spring for a hike or mountain bike ride thanks in part to the mild weather and the emergence of wildflowers. But it’s not the only place in and around Redding to hike or bike. Chemise Peak near Shasta Dam offers 360 degree views of the valley as well as the dam. Salt Creek is a popular destination between Old Shasta and Redding and the area north of Red Bluff near Jellys Ferry Road includes the Iron Canyon Trail, the Upper Yana Trail and a host of other great treks.
If you want to be on the water, but aren’t sure you’re ready to dip into the lakes just yet – Brrrr! – a fishing excursion with a local fishing guide may just be the answer. After all, Redding has long been a fishing Mecca.
If you don’t want to wet your line, kayaking on Whiskeytown Lake or the Sacramento River remains a great option to get out, get some exercise and see things from a different perspective. If you want to go fast, most of the marinas on Lake Shasta offer boat rentals and though it might still be chilly to water ski or tube ride, exploring the largest reservoir in California is always an adventure.
And while you’re out and about, don’t forget to fuel up and even crack a cold one. The North State is home to hundreds of great restaurants from Mount Shasta to Red Bluff along with an ever-growing brewery scene that provides a perfect place to wet your whistle after a long day of adventure seeking.
And the best thing about the North State in spring is that you can probably stay busy every weekend and always find more adventures to keep you occupied into summer, fall and winter.