Lace up your hiking boots, load Lucy into the car and get a grip on your leash: you’ll need it when you see how excited she’ll become upon encountering a multitude of new sights and smells in dog-friendly Redding, your gateway to the eight-county Shasta Cascade region. On a clear day, the 13,162-foot, snow-covered cone of Mount Shasta fills the windshield during the 2.5-hour drive up Interstate 5 from Sacramento. It’s a looming landmark and constant reminder that you’re leaving the Central Valley behind and entering the rugged landscapes of the Cascade range.
If it’s a first visit, make Redding’s iconic Sundial Bridge a first stop. 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 with a stroll over the glass-decked span and let Rover splash at the water access points on the far side. Your best fur friend can sniff as you pick up some plant identification skills while strolling a 1.4-mile paved loop trail through the adjacent McConnell Arboretum. The bridge is also a great place to access the 19-mile, multi-use Sacramento River Trail, jewel in the crown of Redding’s extensive trail system.
Pick up a guide (available at Turtle Bay Exploration Park adjacent to the bridge, online or at many sites in town) to Redding’s 80 miles of paved and natural-surface trails, and you’ll quickly understand why the city claims the title Trail Capital of California.
No matter what your other plans, put a trek across mind-boggling Shasta Dam on your hike-Redding bucket list. While dogs aren’t allowed on the free tours that take people more than 600 feet down into the structure’s guts, you and yours are free to marvel as you stroll across its massive shoulders for panoramic views of magnificent Shasta Lake, the state’s largest reservoir and a magnet for anglers and houseboaters.
Back in town, enjoy patio dining and imbibing at numerous dog-friendly restaurants and craft breweries, then rest your weary paws at a hotel that welcomes pets. And mark your calendar: In January, the new, pet-friendly Sheraton Redding Hotel at Sundial Bridge will open, providing an upscale option in a prime location.
Photo Credit: larryvaupel