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A bike ride across the Sundial Bridge in Redding, Ca
Two people hiking next to a lake at Lassen Volcanic National Park.
Kayaking and paddleboarding at Shasta Lake
Middle McCloud Falls
Kyle Sheppard
A family at Lake Shasta Caverns National Natural Landmark in Redding, CA.

An Insider's Guide to Year-Round Adventures On and Around Shasta Lake

By Redding CVB | 11/08/2019 | Biking, Boating, Family Friendly , Fishing, Fun and Free, Great Outdoors, Kayaking, Lakes, Paddling, Rafting, Rentals, Stand Up Paddle Boarding, Trails, Watersports

Sitting less than 30 minutes from the heart of Redding, Shasta Lake is a gem of northern California. The 30,000-acre man-made lake is the largest reservoir in California and boasts nearly 370 miles of shoreline, not to mention crystal-clear views of Mt. Shasta’s 14,180-foot peak. Naturally, houseboats, fishing boats, jet skis, and inner tubes crisscross the lake every summer—but fun abounds all year long, from cave tours to fishing to hiking and sightseeing. So no matter the season, here’s an insider’s guide to year-round adventure on—and around—Shasta Lake.

Relaxing with a Lake Shasta Dinner Cruise

Shasta Lake Dinner Cruise

There may be no more scenic and pleasurable introduction to Shasta Lake than a dinner cruise. The two-hour cruises are offered between May and September (with starting and ending dates dependent on weather). In addition to expansive lake views and a relaxing atmosphere, the cruises offer a buffet-style menu that includes (among other items) lemon zest chicken, vegetable skewers, potato and bacon salad, garden salad, and dessert.

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Touring Lake Shasta Caverns National Natural Landmark

Did you know that Shasta Lake borders a large swath of underground caverns? Even better, you can walk around inside and learn about the region’s geologic history. Tours at Lake Shasta Caverns National Natural Landmark include a catamaran cruise across Shasta Lake, a bus ride to the cave entrance, and an informative tour of the network of limestone caves near Shasta Lake. The hour-long guided cavern tours—offered year-round—cover 32 varieties of cave formation and trace the cavern’s history back 250 million years. It’s considered one of the most beautiful limestone caves in the U.S., and you will be impressed by the variety of incredible rock formations.

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Visiting Shasta Dam

The Shasta Dam was built in 1945, creating Shasta Lake while generating electricity and providing flood control for the region. Scott Blackwell

When it was completed in 1945, the 602-foot-tall Shasta Dam was the second-highest dam in the world, behind only the Hoover Dam. (Fun fact: Woody Guthrie wrote “This Land is Your Land” while helping build the dam’s arch barrier.) Today, Shasta Dam sits near the southern tip of Shasta Lake, generating hydroelectricity and keeping the reservoir full for year-round recreation. A visitor center is open all year long, with information on the history, purpose, and construction of the massive project. Lawns and trails line the base of the dam, providing an idyllic setting for picnicking, cycling, and exploring each spring, summer, and fall. And keep an eye out for free tours (they are currently suspended while the tour elevator is refurbished). When offered, the tours include a 428-foot elevator ride down inside the dam and an up-close look at its inner workings.

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Stand-Up Paddleboarding Around Shasta Lake

Stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) has exploded in popularity in recent years, and Shasta Lake has gotten in on the fun: Several marinas around the lake offer rentals and innumerable coves and inlets make it easy to explore and get away from the crowds at the height of summer.

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Resorts, Rental Cabins, Motels, and More

No matter your overnight accommodation preferences, Shasta Lake hosts a variety of facilities for travelers of all stripes. And while most lodging options fill up at the height of summer, off-season rates and cooler weather make Shasta Lake lodgings a solid choice for the rest of the year as well. Several resorts, rental cabins, and motels offer accommodations for families of all sizes, with a wide range of rooms, lake views, and other amenities—like kitchenettes, swimming pools, spas, laundry service, air conditioning, Wi-Fi, arcades, lawn games, and more.

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Mountain Biking Near Shasta Lake

At Shasta Lake, mountain biking is a year-round activity—and the mountainous terrain surrounding the lake makes it an ideal destination for taking the path less traveled.

New mountain bikers enjoy testing the terrain along the Packers Bay Trails, which consists of four trails ranging from 0.4 miles to 2.8 miles, while vets adore the challenging Dry Creek Trail. The popular singletrack trail, roughly 10 miles round-trip, boasts lots of ups and downs, tight corners, and expansive lake views.

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Fishing on Shasta Lake


With 350 miles of shoreline, Shasta Lake has plenty of room to find a perfect fishing spot. Pacific Southwest Region 5

Shasta Lake is an angler’s dream. Rainbow trout, brown trout, Chinook salmon, bass, catfish, and crappie call Shasta Lake home, and you can fish from the shore or on the lake. Boats (motorized and non-motorized) are available for rent at most of the lake’s marinas, and several public and commercial boat ramps offer easy lake access. And with more than 350 miles of shoreline, hundreds of coves offer peace and quiet—even on busy summer weekends. In particular, Shasta Dam, Jones Valley, and Silverthorn all provide excellent shoreline access.

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Boating on Shasta Lake

Boating is perhaps the most popular activity at Shasta Lake, so it’s only fitting that you can rent a variety of boats at the seven marinas and resorts lining the lake. The enormous selection includes pontoons, kayaks, motorboats, canoes, rowboats, party barges, ski boats, and fishing boats. Patio boats are also popular rental choices for making the most of hot summer days; some offer options for cooking and sleeping, but most are floating patios with awnings for shade.

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Hiking Around Shasta Lake

View from atop Chamise Peak via the Flanagan Trail near Shasta Lake.

Hiking isn’t just a summertime escape at Shasta Lake: Agreeable temperatures make wintertime hiking a pleasant experience, wildflowers bloom as early as mid-January (with some remaining in bloom into July), and numerous trails deliver a mix of wildlife and natural views. The Bailey Cove Trail, for instance, follows the lower McCloud arm of Shasta Lake, circles a mountain peninsula, and traverses forests full of pine, oak, Douglas fir, and cedar.

Another popular footpath is the Clikapudi Trail, which offers shoreline access, wildlife views, sightseeing, and more on a 7.5-mile trail near the Clikapudi arm of Shasta Lake. Several trailheads break up the path in case you'd like to bring two cars (with one acting as a shuttle).

No matter what outdoor activities you enjoy, you can find it around Shasta Lake. Take advantage of this impressive destination on your next trip to Redding, no matter what time of the year that happens to be.

Written by Matt Wastradowski for Matcha in partnership with Redding CVB.

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