Maya resting below Whiskeytown Falls. Photo by Dave Kendrick.
Want to make tracks somewhere new with your pup? Upstate California holds many tail-wagging surprises. The city of Redding
is the gateway to this big, diverse and largely dog-friendly region. A river runs through it —the Sacramento River, to be exact— and the Sacramento River National Recreation Trail
is the place to start exploring.
You don’t have to hike the whole 19 miles from the Sundial Bridge
(a famous landmark you don’t want to miss) to super-impressive Shasta Dam (don’t miss that, either), but you can take it in pieces and let your dog splash and swim along the way.
At 602 feet long and two-thirds of a mile long, Shasta Dam
is the second largest concrete dam in the country and contains Shasta Lake, the largest reservoir in California. Be sure to walk across the top of the dam, but know that the lake is very low this year due to drought, so you’ll have to ask around for the best shoreline access, and for houseboating
A DogTrekker favorite option: run over to Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, just west of Redding. Don’t expect Whiskeytown Falls
to be raging during this dry year, but if you and your dog have the legs for it, do hike the fairly strenuous, 3.4-mile round trip on the James K. Carr Trail to see what’s splashing down the precipice’s 220-foot face.
The 3,500-acre lake itself, which serves as the forebay for Shasta, stays at a constant level and is great for kayaking, paddle-boarding and boating.
If you’re really keen on waterfalls, head north to the McCloud River and learn why this region of California is known as the “Waterfall Capital of California.” In one day, you and your pup can visit four cataracts that are spectacular in spring but still pretty amazing during the drier months.
Hedge Creek Falls
, just off Interstate 5 outside Dunsmuir, is the most easily accessible. There’s a parking lot and a viewing platform, and a short hike leads to the base of the fall, where there’s a cave your dog may or may not be willing to follow you into!
For a longer outing, head to the three McCloud River Falls. Bring a bathing suit, as this stretch boasts some of the best swimming holes in the state. Each of the three levels—Lower
—has a different look and feel. The trio can be seen on a 3.8-mile, moderate round-trip hike. If time is short, the hike from Middle to Upper only takes about five minutes.