Whiskeytown National Recreation Area northwest of Redding is a bit off the beaten track, but once you discover it, we bet you’ll be back—with your dog, of course. Few areas managed by the National Park Service allow dogs out of campgrounds or off of paved roads, but this one is an exception. At Whiskeytown, canine companions are allowed on almost all the park’s 70 miles of trails and everywhere except four designated swimming beaches around sapphire-blue Whiskeytown Lake.
Spring is prime time for taking the park’s waterfall challenge, which involves visiting four cascades tucked deep into the forest. They’re all running at full steam this month, fed by snowmelt in the mountains. Whiskeytown Falls, a 220-foot-tall showpiece kept secret for 40 years, is accessible via the fairly strenuous, 3.4-mile (round trip) James C. Carr Trail, which, be forewarned, is often slippery and wet. Boulder Creek Falls, tumbling 138 feet into a shady box canyon, can be reached via a 1-mile route from Mill Creek Road, while Brandy Creek Falls, plunging in five stages over granite boulders, is a 3-mile round trip rated “moderate.” Crystal Creek Falls, created to handle overflow from the Carr Powerhouse, is accessible via a flat walk of less than half a mile.
Photo: Brandy Creek Falls - Eric Leslie (CC)