Whiskeytown Lake. Photo Credit: Wild Hullabaloo (CC)
If your travel plans have you traveling north this year (or if you haven’t figured out how to use those unused vacay days), we have just the perfect destination. Redding, the last major city on Interstate 5 as you near Mt. Shasta, is the undisputed Trail Capital of California with over 225 miles of trails within 15 miles of its city center.
Redding is also the gateway to the Whiskeytown National Recreation Area. Few areas managed by the National Park Service allow dogs out of campgrounds or off of paved roads, but this one is a welcome exception. At Whiskeytown, canine companions are allowed on-leash on the park’s 70 miles of trails and everywhere except four designated swimming beaches around sapphire-blue Whiskeytown Lake, which is now full.
Early mornings and evenings are the best times to hike along the streams leading to waterfalls where you and your pups can cool off heels and paws.
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.
Dogs can also swim off-leash where the trails meet the lake, as long as they respond well to voice commands. Over the years, dogs that have run freely off the trails have encountered mountain lions as well as suffered severe bouts of poison oak, notably on their noses and underbelly. Of course, this can then spread to us human types.
The most important part of visiting Whiskeytown is practicing responsible dog ownership. By following the leash requirements, the restrictions on the four beaches and being courteous to your fellow trail mates (other dog owners, hikers, bikers and equestrians), we will be able to protect our access to this wonderful national treasure.
Photo Credit: Wild Hullabaloo (CC)