Pedaling Between The Raindrops at Lake Shasta

By: Bruce McConnell

Now that we seem to be back to our normal winter weather pattern, instead of the barrage of doom that our skin would soon boil off, getting out on the bike is becoming more of a challenge. I still am waiting for my invite to join Zwift , more on that later, so I have no option other than to ride between the rain drops.

Visiting family in Redding over the weekend, I took advantage of the break and embarked on a family bike ride. When the weather is good, the Redding area is a hidden gem of riding in NorCal. The Redding area prides itself in offering abundant outdoor activities that range between house boating on Lake Shasta, hiking Trinity Alps, fishing and more recently cycling.

Always known for having a terrific mountain bike scene that can be accessed  from the Swasey Recreation Area on Swasey Road or the East Keswick trails off of Quartz Hill Road, the BLM has recently constructed  a network of paved bike paths from downtown Redding to Lake Shasta. The trail network is catalogued by BLM is on this site:

Paved bike paths in California come in one of two varieties; those that follow waterways or those paved over rail lines. The Redding paths have both, but have paved over mountain bike trails over some steep sections that make them unique to the others.

If you want to test both fitness and bike handling skills while experiencing vistas of the Sacramento River and area mountains this will punch your ticket. Nicest part is that these sections are a barrier to the usual path obstacles of wayward dogs, careless joggers with headphones and five abreast walkers. Most of the Redding congestion is concentrated in the Sundial Bridge area.  BTW, if you have not ridden over Sundial, it is worth the hassle.

Our ride started off the Sacramento River going up the Middle Creek trail towards the mining town of Old Shasta. We bypassed the infamous Heart Rate Hill/Single tracking section saddening me since it is my favorite section of bike trail anywhere. Middle Creek has more gentle climbs with several tight bends above what is now a roaring creek.  After crossing through Old Shasta, we made the transition back to the River Rail Trail by turning right on Rock Creek Road. Back on the trail, it was a twenty minute, 7.5 mile sprint, to the base of Lake Shasta along a very muddy looking Keswick Reservoir.

The approach to the Dam was up the western side using the seldom used Coram Road. Coram was shut down to regular traffic after 9-11. During the summer months, my advice is to head up the trail at the crack of dawn to not only beat the heat, but to witness one of the most amazing spectacles on the planet. On the east side of the dam, there is a visitor’s center with park with benches and trees that overlook the Dam.

Around 6:30 am during the early summer, the Peregrine Falcon’s that nest on the face of the dam begin their feeding. I am not a big fan of noisy crow’s, so seeing them getting obliterated out of the sky by Peregrine’s diving over 200 mph at eye level  no less is the most awesome event in nature that I have witnessed. Peregrines are the fastest member of the animal kingdom. Why that I am usually the only one in the park at that time is beyond me. If the carnage bothers you, drift to the other side of the dam and watch the Bald Eagles and Osprey’s pluck fish out of the lake.


From the Visitors center turn right and climb to where the turnout is after a mile. That is the postcard picture that everyone has seen of the dam with Mt Shasta photobombing the Lake. Continuing on you will descend down several miles to the Lake Blvd stop sign. A right turn will take you back to Redding. However, a desirable detour is to go straight through the stop sign a half mile and turn left at Shasta Park Drive. Follow the Digger Bay signs where you hump over a very steep hill down to the boat ramp. It is very similar to going to Yorty Creek in Cloverdale via Hot Springs Road.


Bliss is Redding, California!

Courtesy of Travels with Bliss, Article by Susan Hartzler, Photos by Susan Hartzler.

 In the majestic mountain and lake filled region in the north eastern corner of California lies Redding and Shasta Cascade, one of America’s most spectacular, pristine and DOG FRIENDLY regional destinations. Boasting 300+ days of beautiful weather a year, this area is rich in culture and heritage offering boundless outdoor recreation with magnificent landscapes and breathtaking vistas. From towering volcanoes, alpine ranges and glaciers to endless waterfalls, lush forests, pristine lakes and roaring rivers, this travel destination is one of a kind. Known as the trail capital of California with over 200 miles of hiking, (many dog friendly), Redding is an outdoor adventurers dream. Not only are they known for endless trails, but with an abundance of nearby lakes, rivers and streams, everything from kayaking and paddle boarding to boating and fishing is available here. On top of the trials and the rivers, California’s Shasta Cascade contains seven national forests, eight national and state parks, and several mountain ranges including the Trinity Alps, the northern Sierra Nevada and the California Cascade range. Not to mention two massive glaciated volcanoes: the dormant 14,162 foot Mt. Shasta and the still-active 10,457 foot Lassen Peak. Among the first cities covered by, this breath-taking region is brimming with dog-friendly hotels, resorts, restaurants, shops, tours, historic sites, dog parks, cabins, and vacation rentals.

There are plenty of areas for dogs and their owners to explore where rivers, mountains, wildlife and spectacular scenery collide. There are also dog-friendly events including the annual Ducky Derby, Art in the Park and the Bark, Wine and Brew celebration. On a recent visit, Bliss had a blast! She went paddle boarding, kayaking, hiking and Whiskeytown National Recreation area where beautiful sapphire-blue waters are surrounded by mountain peaks. At the end of the day, Bliss fell right to sleep at TownPlace Suites, a dog friendly hotel that is convenient to Turtle Bay Exploration Park and Redding Civic Auditorium, within close proximity of Sundial Bridge, Whiskeytown Lake. We stopped for lunch at Wilda’s Grill, a dog friendly low-key restaurant and the home of the Buddha Bowl a favorite local dish, featuring gluten-free (highly addictive) concoction of brown rice, red beans, chicken or tofu, avocado, shredded cabbage, jalapenos, cilantro and two sauces (a sesame and soy-based dressing and a spicy garlic chili aouli). YUM! Check out this slide show of Bliss in Redding!




A Beautifully Painful Fall Shasta County Day

This is a repost with permission of Bruce McConnell’s blog on Sonoma County’s Press Democrat. Thanks for riding with us, Bruce!

After riding in Levi’s Gran Fondo, I had not planned on riding another big ride for some time. That changed quickly last week when several family members and friends encouraged me to participate in the Shasta Wheelman Jamboree Century held this past Saturday in Palo Cedro, which is just east of Redding. Lucky for me that I had a few days to convince myself that it would not be as hard the King Ridge Gran Fondo.  I obviously have lost most of my functioning brain cells, because I could not have been more wrong.

First of all, let’s get the Redding myth that it is hotter than pits of Mordor out of the way. Yes, between Memorial Day to Labor Day it is crazy hot, as thermal heating of the interior valleys scorches the landscape while our coastal area is bathed with the cool onshore afternoon breeze. However, the other nine months of the year are even more desirable in my view than our Sonoma County weather. If you flip over to the back of the Empire News section in today’s newspaper, you will see that Redding was cooler yesterday than all of our county’s weather except for the immediate coast.

Redding is more known for mountain bike riding around the three area lakes than road biking. With the development of the Sacramento River trail to Shasta Dam and the establishment of community-wide bike lanes, that perception is changing. Rolling out of Palo Cedro with my riding partner for the day, Tim Jenne, we proceeded through soft rolling grasslands scattered with cows as the early morning sun rays poked over from Mount Lassen to our east.

Shasta Wheelman is a small dedicated club which presented itself in an intimate way to the 200 or so riders as we rolled through the various rest stops. Well supported, the final stop of the day was staffed by the couple who were married by Levi on Portuguese Beach during the 2013 Gran Fondo.

As nice as everything and everyone was, this ride was painfully hard. The suffering was partially offset by the landscape of riding under shaded forest canopies, lush meadows and flowing water through numerous creeks.  I had forgotten what rushing water sounded like. Occasionally the views would open up with sweeping views of Mount Shasta and the Trinity Alps in the distance. Being able to view wide open spaces for 50-75 miles in the distance really broadens the senses.

Finally, in early afternoon, Tim and I found our way to the final climb of the day, Buzzard’s Roost. I don’t make this stuff up and it was aptly named! For some reason, the forest disappeared and we were exposed in the sun on the brutal 13% steeps. I did see buzzard’s there and thankfully I did not become their afternoon meal. The rest of the climbs were just as insanely hard, but nicely tucked into the forest. When we finally emerged out to Oak Run Road for the long descent back to Palo Cedro, my saddle felt that it was made of porcupine quills. I will never forget to take chamois cream again!

After high fives at the finish, 103 miles and 9,000 feet of climbing, it was time for the pool! If you are a complete fool and find enjoyment in suffering on the bike the way I do, here is the link for the ride.

- Bruce McConnell


Read the original post here.

Big Bike Weekend Rolls Into Redding

It’s getting to be a familiar sound to locals: the deep, rumbling purr of hundreds of motorcycles pouring into hotel parking lots across town, as their riders converge on Redding for its annual 3 day celebration of all kinds of big bikes and the culture that goes along with them. Big Bike Weekend, and all its sights and sounds, will be back in Redding October 10-12, 2014.


These leather-clad road warriors have impeccable timing- October in Redding is a gift straight from the gods. Caught somewhere between summer and fall, October offers all the delight of Redding’s famous perma-sunshine, sparkling on the river and flashing through trees as your bike zooms through scenic mountain roads, without the heat of summer. Long evenings offer opportunities to take the bike out through Redding’s beloved backcountry roads, and mild days make it easy to enjoy Big Bike Weekend’s many activities…or ditch the bikers and join some hikers at Whiskeytown Falls. Visitors can also trade the leather jacket for a life jacket and take one of Redding’s SUP tours or raft rides. Those interested in a different two-wheeled ride can try Segway tours across Sundial Bridge, and through it all, the city serves up its usual assortment of wining, dining, and live entertainment.

Besides the usual Redding recreation, Big Bike Weekend offers special activities including contests, vendors, competitions, tours, live music, and dancing. (And camaraderie, of course. BBW has that in spades.) There are 3 days, but all levels of bike interest and ownership are able to fill the schedule: a Remembrance Ride, training courses, a Strongman competition, performances by the Wicked Wahines, Raffle Runs, Show & Shines, Ladies Rides, an appearance by UFC Hall of Famer Ken Shamrock, Bike Show competitions, fundraisers, and The Cal-Neva Competition Series (police motor riders).

If you have even the vaguest notion that you won’t want to miss a town full of big bike fun, book your hotel now. This growing event is already incredibly popular and rooms fill up fast. Plus- you wouldn’t want to miss Redding in October!

Get the full scoop on Big Bike Weekend at the Visit Redding events calendar.

Lakes Were Made for Races

Whiskeytown National Recreation Area and its namesake, always-full lake, draw visitors year ’round. In addition to its inherent beauty- plenty come just to sit and stare- it offers hiking, biking, history, fishing, swimming, camping, exploring, waterfall viewing, sailing, waterskiing and boarding, wildlife viewing, and of course: running and paddling… sometimes for medals and bragging rights. For the particularly ambitious, two of Whiskeytown’s races are taking place in one weekend!

For the waterborne: the 2nd Annual California Paddle, September 20. This day of SUP fun invites all ages and abilities to paddle as fast as they can in several races and relays on Whiskeytown’s beautiful waters. Choose from a 1 mile race, 3 mile race, 9 mile Powerhouse race, relay, or kids race, all setting out from the beloved Brandy Creek Beach. Paddlers ages 0-12 are free! Races are encouraged to come to town Friday and take advantage of special deals from WASSUP Board Sports, and wind down on Sunday with On Water Yoga. But you might be booked Sunday because you’re also racing in…


The 39th Annual Whiskeytown Relays, September 21! This 2 or 4 person run around the lake lends itself to lots of team camaraderie along with laughter and fun. Join in the historically great event and score a Technical T, lunch, lots of goodies, and, if you and your buddies are speedy enough, awards for the top 3 places in each category. The starting and finish lines are at Brandy Creek Marina, and the course takes advantage of Whiskeytown’s classic good looks. Find your 3 fastest friends and register soon, the first 25 teams to sign up will be entered in a drawing for an all day rental of either a patio boat or a deck cruiser compliments of Oak Bottom Marina (valued at over $200).

Two days, two ways to race, 1 beautiful location. Must be Redding!