Hang onto your leash: You'll need it to steady yourself when you get your first close-up look at Redding's iconic Sundial Bridge. The stunning pedestrian structure designed by celebrity architect Santiago Calatrava links dog-friendly trails on both sides of the Sacramento River and is a major visitor attraction in this part of the state. Start off with a stroll over the glass-decked span and let Rover splash at the water access points on the far side. Your buddy can sniff as you pick up some plant identification skills while strolling a 1.4-mile paved loop trail through the adjacent McConnell Arboretum.
If your shoes are made for walkin' and and Rover is still woofin to go, cross back over the bridge and soak up some scenery along the Sacramento River Trail, jewel in the crown of Shasta County's extensive trail system. This 19-mile multiuse path is now paved all the way to 600-foot-high Shasta Dam, a major attraction in its own right and one you won't want to miss. Rover can't join you on a tour of the country's fourth-largest dam, but you can both view the massive structure from the vista point on scenic Highway 151 (Shasta Dam Blvd.), walk the .66-mile distance across it across it and picnic on the shady grounds across from the visitor center. Want to get out on the water? Houseboating is the best way to experience Shasta Lake (we'll tell you more about that in coming weeks ).
Heading north from Redding, DogTrekkers will find an abundance of dog-friendly hike, splash, play and stay choices—too many for just one trip. The town of Mt. Shasta, nestled at the foot of the imposing, 14,162-foot volcanic peak of the same name, makes a great base for a getaway. Our favorite dog-passionate place to stay is the “affordably elegant” Mount Shasta Ranch B&B with spacious grounds, main house, carriage house and cottage, all under the backdrop of Mount Shasta. All rooms accept dogs without restrictions and only a $10 per-night pet fee.
Head southeast on Highway 89 to reach the historic lumber town of McCloud, and five miles further to access the scenery-rich Shasta-Trinity National Forest and the McCloud River. Take Lassie hiking on the Middle Creek Falls Trail (begin at Fowler’s Camp campground) and view three falls within 3.8 miles).
With more public lands than a DogTrekker could explore in a lifetime, Butte County is a great place for an outdoorsy getaway with your canine companion. The surprises start in the county seat of Chico, home to Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, a California State University campus, and Bidwell Park, at 3,618 acres one of the largest municipal parks in the country. While the developed Lower Park is home to playing fields, a nature center, a theater and other community facilities, the rougher, untamed Upper Park offers 70 miles of hiking trails and open areas where it's legal to let Fido romp off leash so long as he comes when you call.
Lake Oroville, the state's second-largest reservoir after Shasta, is the county's biggest summertime recreation magnet, offering floating campsites and many other opportunities for summertime doggie fun; just be aware that beach and turf areas are off limits to canines. When the lake is full, it comes to within a quarter-mile of Feather Falls, a three-tiered, 410-foot cascade on the Fall River that is gushing this year due to the massive snowpack in the Sierra. The nine-mile Feather Falls Loop Trail is dog-friendly and leads to a railed observation platform, but check before you go as the lower loop was closed at this writing due to footbridge damage, meaning you may have to backtrack rather than complete the loop.
The farther you get from big cities, the more relaxed the rules. You'll never run out of room to roam in scenic Plumas and Sierra counties, where the Plumas National Forest alone offers more than a million acres where dogs are allowed to accompany their uprights either on- or off-leash. Countless access points to public lands are situated along the Volcanic Legacy and Feather River Scenic Byways, which are ranked among the nation's most scenic drives.
Hikers with dogs have many paths to explore, among them scenic sections of the Pacific Crest Trail and paths within the sublime Lakes Basin Recreation Area, whose sawtooth peaks and turquoise lakes remind many visitors of Switzerland.
The luxury Gray Eagle Lodge is just one of numerous area lodgings that welcomes four-legged visitors and offers quick access to fishing, golf, boating, hiking and other recreational pursuits.
Other Plumas County highlights include Bucks Lake, a low-key resort area surrounded by wilderness, and Lake Almanor, a larger body of water near the town of Chester and Lassen Volcanic National Park. A pet-friendly vacation rental on either lake will open a personalized window to this relaxed slice of Northern California. Or, check out pet-friendly Bucks Lake Lodge at Bucks Lake or Knotty Pine Resort at Almanor.
Since 1911, Chico's Butte Humane Society, one of the county's oldest nonprofit agencies, has been coming to the aid of animals in need, helping the lost and abandoned find new homes, and also helping prevent future problems through public education and promotion of compassion and responsible stewardship. Recently BHS opened a low-cost spay and neuter clinic to help the local community combat the problem of pet overpopulation.
Not only is BHS eager to help its dogs find homes locally, it goes the extra mile to help would-be adopters from out of town find their perfect match, right down to suggesting places to stay while making that important decision.
Young Argos, a 9-month-old boxer/Australian shepherd mix, is a bright young pup who's grown up at the shelter and become a great favorite with the staff. He's mastered basic obedience, is learning agility tricks, has gotten along well with many canine roommates, and is waiting for a family to call his own.
"Mount Shasta" - Iwona Kellie (CC)
"Plumas National Forest" - Kathleen Franklin (CC)
"Bo at Sundial Bridge" - Janet Fullwood, DogTrekker "Kayla & Mom at Mt. Shasta Ranch"- Dave Kendrick, DogTrekker
"Kayla & Dad at Middle Falls" - Roxanne Kendrick, DogTrekker
"Bidwell Park" - Dave Kendrick, DogTrekker
"Lakes Basin Recreation Area" - Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship (CC)
"Dogs at Bucks Lake" - Jeff DeVries (CC)
"Argos" - Butte Humane Society