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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.

10 Lakes, Rivers, Pools, and Swimming Holes Where You Can Cool Off in Redding, CA

By Redding CVB | 07/26/2019 | Boating, Family Friendly , Fun and Free, Great Outdoors, Kayaking, Lakes, Paddling, Rafting, Rivers, Stand Up Paddle Boarding, State & National Parks, Watersports

Come summer, most locals and visitors in Redding have one goal on their minds: hitting the water. Fortunately, dozens of lakes, rivers, and pools in the Redding area make it easy to do so. Maybe you’re looking for a family-friendly waterpark? Or perhaps jumping into an alpine lake after a hike is more your style? There’s an option for everyone in Redding, and here are 10 of the best places to get started.

1. Shasta Lake

Photo courtesy of Cameron Lievense.

It’s impossible to talk about swimming in Redding without mentioning the area’s most beloved summer spot: Shasta Lake. Just 15 miles north of Redding, Shasta Lake is the largest reservoir in California and an undisputed favorite for boating, swimming, fishing, and watersports. Five large marinas allow you to put in your boat or rent one and start exploring the 30,000-acre lake. Though popular, Shasta Lake’s size and shape (the reservoir is made up of a series of fingers) allow ample opportunity to spread out and discover pockets of solitude.

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2. Whiskeytown Lake

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Brandy Creek runs six miles through the Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, with excellent hiking trails along its route. Prayitno

The crown jewel of Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, this scenic reservoir is only eight miles west of Redding. In addition to easy access from town, Whiskeytown Lake boasts crystal-clear waters and views of serene mountain peaks all around. This 3,200-acre lake is ideal for swimming, fishing, scuba diving, boating, and non-motorized water sports. Though motorized boats are allowed on Whiskeytown Lake, it’s still remarkably easy to find calm water for those who prefer a quiet day of kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, canoeing, or sailing.

The Brandy Creek swimming beach on Whiskeytown Lake sits nestled in a quiet cove of the lake and offers all the amenities you need for a fun day on the water: kayak and stand-up paddleboard rentals, a store with snacks and beach necessities, and a marina.

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3. Manzanita Lake

Located in Lassen Volcanic National Park, less than an hour east of Redding, Manzanita Lake is a beautiful alpine lake that’s known for its large rainbow, brown, and brook trout. Swimming, kayaking, and camping are also popular here, and the 1.6-mile hiking trail that circles the lake is a kid-friendly way to explore the area. Head to the north side of the lake for great pictures of Lassen Peak, with its image reflected in the lake. You can also visit a museum that shows photos of the mountain’s 1914 eruption, as well as a collection of Native American blankets.

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4. Squaw Creek Swim Hole


Near the Shasta Dam on the little tributary of Squaw Creek, you’ll find one the locals’ favorite spots for swimming. This natural swimming hole isn’t the easiest to find, but visitors will be rewarded with emerald waters, cliff-jumping opportunities, and plenty of rocks to sit on and hang out in between swims.

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5. Heart Lake

Heart Lake is for all the lovers of tiny alpine lakes out there. Located in Castle Crags Wilderness in a wonderland of granite domes and untouched forest, you’ll have to hike a bit to get to Heart Lake. Most people approach it from Castle Lake on a two-mile, round-trip hike that offers breathtaking views of Mt. Shasta and the surrounding peaks.

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6. Potem Falls


Yet another picture-perfect waterfall near Redding, the 60-foot Potem Falls is closer to Redding than the famous McArthur-Burney Falls, but it’s not as well known. You’ll have to drive about five miles on a dirt road to get to Potem Creek, but then the hike to the base of the falls is only a quarter mile each way through the peaceful, verdant forest. The swimming hole below the falls is quaint and calm, and you can also wade in the downstream portion of Potem Creek.

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7. Middle McCloud River Falls

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The Middle Falls of the McCloud River features a welcome swimming hole below. Pacific Southwest Region 5

The McCloud River flows for more than 77 miles through pristine forest scenery in Siskiyou and Shasta counties north of Redding. In addition to being a world-class fly fishing destination with some highly sought-after rainbow trout, the McCloud River boasts natural swimming holes and some of the most picturesque waterfalls near Redding. Of the three waterfalls, Middle Falls are the largest. A short walk from the parking lot takes you to the overlook, but to go for a dip, you’ll have to hike a bit more to the base where you can cool off in the tranquil pools and admire the falls.

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8. Lake Britton

Subtle but beautiful Lake Britton sits about 70 miles northeast of Redding partially within McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park. The reservoir is known for its trout and bass populations, so don’t forget the fishing pole. You’ll find a small-boat marina, fishing pier, beach, and picnic area within the state park near the outlet of Burney Creek. Roads branching off CA-89 and CA-299 provide vehicle access to other, less-visited parts of the lake. Plus it’s just a couple of miles from majestic Burney falls.

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9. Waterworks Park


This family-friendly waterpark features all your favorites: giant water slides, a lazy lagoon, wave pool, water playground, and other water rides. Best of all, Waterworks Park is situated right in the heart of Redding, so you don’t have to travel far. The park offers day tickets as well as season passes, and you can also rent cabanas for the full family experience. The Beach Club Café inside the park serves up all the classic summertime eats.

COVID-19 UPDATE: Due to local and state safety guidelines, WaterWorks Park is closed for the rest of the 2020 season.

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10. Redding Aquatic Center


COVID-19 UPDATE: Due to local, state, and federal COVID-19 guidelines, all activity classes and public swim have been canceled until further notice. Summer camps, lifeguard classes, swim lessons, and water safety courses will still be happening as scheduled. Please check the Registration System for the most up-to-date information. Thank you for your understanding as we navigate these unprecedented circumstances.

For another great option within city limits, check out the Redding Aquatic Center near downtown. The aquatic center features two outdoor pools: a 50-meter competition pool with 20 lanes and two diving boards, and a 25-meter activity pool with six lanes, a play structure, water slide, and wading area. Both pools have shaded areas to take a break from the sun. The Riverwalk Grille inside the aquatic center offers a convenient spot to grab an ice cream, snacks, or a beverage.

Written by Jenna Herzog for Matcha in partnership with Redding CVB.

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