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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.

Road Trips Worth Taking From Redding to Fit Any Schedule

By Redding CVB | 04/20/2020 | Family Friendly , Food and Drink, Fun and Free, Great Outdoors, Lakes, Rivers, Road Trips, Roadside Attractions, Scenic Drives, State & National Parks, Things to See and Do, Trails, Waterfalls

Horizons are meant to be chased. Lucky for you, the UpStateCA wilderness offers a variety of sight lines to keep you entertained for that windshield time. Volcanoes, mountain peaks, crystal clear alpine lakes, multiple national forests, wildflowers and sweeping meadows can all be found when setting out on a road trip from Redding. Whether you have a short window, a half-day or a full-day, here are a few options when deciding to hit the open road and exploring mother nature's natural wonders in the area with some scenic drives.

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SHORT-DAY TRIPS

Scenic Drive – Darrah Fish Hatchery Loop


Some of the views headed to Darrah Fish Hatchery. (Photo by Cameron Lievense)

Distance/Drive Time: 56 miles / 1h 7m
Plan for: 1-1.5 hours
Best time to go: Spring
Must-See: Scenic drive, mountain vistas, wildflowers in bloom, Darrah Springs Fish Hatchery

If you’re looking for a quick scenic drive without a significant time commitment, the loop with gorgeous backcountry views with rolling hills, oak trees and wildflowers is the ideal trip. Keep an eye out for a small peak on your drive and the foothills of Lassen National Forest is in the distance. Along the way you can stop off at the Darrah Fish Hatchery, which was built in 1956. The road is completely paved with hardly any other cars so take your time around the bends and enjoy the open road. 

Google Directions: https://goo.gl/maps/6diACyjQ8ghyRKgq9

Wild Horses & Wine Tasting


Photo courtesy of Wild Horse Sanctuary's Facebook Page.

Distance/Drive Time: 80 miles / 1h 43m
Plan for: 2-3 hours
Best time to go: Spring
Must-See: Wild Horse Sanctuary, Indian Peak Vineyards, Alger Vineyards

An easy cruise east of Redding into Lassen National Forest leads to an UpStateCA gem in the Wild Horse Sanctuary, which sits on 5,000 acres of lush lava rock-strewn mountain meadows and forest land. Views of Lassen Peak to the east and 80 wild horses grazing over the land offer a unique setting. Down the road in Manton are Indian Peak Vineyards and Alger Vineyards, both with breathtaking views and delicious variety of wines. The road back to Redding descends from the foothills into backcountry roads along the Darrah Springs Fish Hatchery where the rolling hills, oak trees and spring wildflowers give you plenty to look at during the drive.

Where to eat: Before you hit the road, stop at Holiday Market in Redding to get fresh sandwiches made daily for a picnic lunch. Or in Shingletown, Reed’s Grill is the top-rated Yelp dining establishment in the area. Pioneer Hillside Pizza is another stop and those with a sweet tooth must add Shingletown Scoops to your itinerary.

Google Directions: https://goo.gl/maps/xYWT8nv2GeZsvAR9A

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HALF-DAY TRIPS

Lassen Volcanic National Park


Manzanita Lake at Lassen Volcanic National Park. (Photo by Julie Boyd)

Distance/Drive Time: 146 miles / 3h 12m
Plan for: 3-6 hours
Best time to go: Late May-Oct
Must-See: 
Kohm Yah-Mah-Nee Visitor Center, Sulphur Works, Bumpass Hell

Google Directions: https://goo.gl/maps/ihc8UrkoUx8iHyEq6

Lassen is one of the most fascinating attractions in UpStateCA. You’ll find everything from volcanoes, stunning waterfalls, bubbling mud pots, hiking trails and stunning alpine lakes within the park. All four types of volcanoes are found in the park, making it the only place on earth where all are in one concentrated area. 

Stop at the Kohm Yah-Mah-Nee Visitor Center at the southern entrance to get maps, see educational exhibits about the parks many features and grab a snack from the Lassen Café. Along the scenic drive through the park, popular points of interest include Sulphur Works, Bumpass Hell, Lake Helen, Lassen Peak, Brokeoff Volcano, Kings Creek Falls and Kings Creek Meadow, Summit Lake, Devastated Area, Chaos Crags and Manzanita Lake.

The park is a day-hiker’s paradise and there’s plenty of trails to explore. Make sure to take your time at the stops, take a breath of fresh air and soak in the tranquility of the national park with a fraction of the crowds. For a more in-depth itinerary through Lassen, click here.

Where to eat: The Lassen Café located in the Kohm Yah-Mah-Nee Visitor Center has the fixings your  need with soups, salads, fruits, hot or cold sandwiches and a variety of beverages, including soft-serve ice cream. At the northern end of the park, the Manzanita Lake Camper Store is an option for ready-to-go meals, snacks and picnic supplies. Both are open approximately mid-May through mid-October.

California's Last Frontier - Mt. Shasta/Dunsmuir


Castle Lake (Photo by Dan Shepler)

Distance/Drive Time: 143 miles / 2h 51m
Plan for: 3-5 hours
Best time to go: April-Nov
Must-See: Hedge Creek Falls, Castle Crags State Park, Castle Lake, Mt. Shasta

Google Directions: https://goo.gl/maps/MDormvC9ZocMhPob8

Heading north from Redding, you’ll wander into the Shasta-Trinity National Forest where the mighty Mt. Shasta plays peek-a-boo with you around the mountainous curves along I-5. Your first stop is Hedge Creek Falls where the easy 0.25-mile hike each way leads you to a 30-foot waterfall plunging into a small pool. The unique small cave behind the cascading water allows for people to see the waterfall from a different perspective. 

Continue up north to the serene Castle Lake where the views of the granite cliffs and clear water will leave you speechless and it’s ideal setting for kayaking. If you have more time, you can hike the east side of the lake (to the left) for the 2-mile Castle Lake Trail that takes you up 1,200 feet of elevation gain for spectacular views of Mt. Shasta, Castle Crags and Castle Lake.

If you passed on hiking at Castle Lake – or if you’re an adventurous soul – then Castle Crags State Park is the spot to do it. More than 28 miles of hiking trails in the California State Park can lead to vista points and dramatic views of the 6,000-feet tall granite spires which are more than 170 million years old. The 2.2-mile long Root Creek Trail guides you along an accessible path to a year-round flowing creek. The most popular and challenging route is the Crags Trail, which leads you to the base of Castle Dome but the views of Mt. Shasta up close are worth it. The Pacific Crest Trail also winds its way through the park as well as the Sacramento River.

Where to eat: Like any other road trip, it’s never a bad idea to stalk up on some snacks or sandwiches before your trip. But some dining experiences you won’t want to miss out on is dining in an old railroad car at the Railroad Park Resort in Dunsmuir. Yaks on the 5 in Dunsmuir is known for its burgers and sticky buns and was voted a Yelp’s Top 100 Restauran

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FULL-DAY TRIPS

Waterfall Loop

Potem Falls
The view of Potem Falls. (Photo by @ourlittlerustichome on Instagram)

Distance/Drive Time: 183 miles / 3h 37m
Plan for: 6-8 hours
Best time to go: March-Aug

Google Directions: https://goo.gl/maps/ahchFiSkekmCp2ZLA

Dozens of waterfalls dot the UpStateCA landscape and you can visit six of them in a one-day road trip. From Redding, the waterfall loop takes you to east to Potem Falls, to the three McCloud River Falls and on to Hedge Creek in Dunsmuir before returning home.

Potem Falls is the first stop. Hit CA Highway 299-E toward Burney, then take a left on Fenders Ferry Rd. Drive down Fenders Ferry Rd to reach the Potem Falls trail head. The waterfall lies in a deep canyon and reaches 45 feet from its base. Enjoy swimming in the pool at the base during the summer months, and don't forget to check out the rope swing! This waterfall is a popular swimming hole in the summer but can be enjoyed with just a visit. 

The three McCloud River waterfalls are in a cluster connected by a well-maintained hiking trail or you can drive to each of the three, leaving you only a few steps away from seeing mother nature’s majestic wonders. Lower McCloud Falls is a 12-foot broad plunge into a pool and the surrounding rocks make it a popular spot for sun bathing, swimming, fishing and relaxing. Middle McCloud Falls is the most impressive with a 44-foot drop and it is also one of the widest in California at 120 feet, creating a veil of white water. It’s a popular spot swimming spot for those who can brave colder water. Upper McCloud Falls escapes a narrow gorge and crashes down small steeps to its base where a beautiful aquamarine pool that carries a Caribbean resemblance.

Hedge Creek Falls is located right off I-5 and the easy 0.25-mile hike each way leads you to a 30-foot waterfall plunging into a small pool. The unique small cave behind the cascading water allows for people to see the waterfall from a different perspective. 

Where to eat: Fueling ahead of time is always recommended but stops along the way can include McCloud River Mercantile, Siskiyou Brew Works in McCloud, Railroad Car Resort in Dunsmuir, Yaks on the 5 in Dunsmuir, Cooper’s Bar & Grill in Mount Shasta, or the Cook House at Bridge Bay in Shasta Lake. 

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