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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.

Your Guide to the Best Kayaking in Redding, CA

By Redding CVB | 08/14/2019 | Great Outdoors, Kayaking, Paddling, State & National Parks

Picture yourself out on the lake on a warm summer evening, your paddle cutting through the water as smooth as glass as you propel your kayak towards a setting sun as it dips over a forested horizon. Does this sound like paradise? To those who know and love the Shasta-Cascade region, it sounds a lot like kayaking in Redding, California.

Redding's many waterways that wind through the Shasta-Cascade region offer visitors plenty of options for cooling off or taking a smooth kayak trip during spring, fall or even winter -- it's a year-round activity here since Time Magazine named Redding the "unofficial capital of kayaking for our weird obsession for all things with a paddle." The Sacramento River, Shasta Lake, Whiskeytown Lake, and Kutras Pond all offer world-renowned flat-water paddling, secluded views, and a chance to escape a busier pace of life in favor of the rhythm of your paddle as it plies in and out of the water.

You’ll find a wide variety of kayaking opportunities in and around Redding, but here are a few favorites that should make the to-do list for any visitor to the area. And remember—pack your personal flotation device (for safety and to comply with California laws), sunscreen, plenty of H2O, and snacks for your day out on the water.

Sacramento River


This wide and lazy river rambles right through the heart of Redding and beyond, making it an easily accessible place to launch your craft. Some people might want to drop a line and catch fish right from the kayaks—or simply paddle and enjoy the scenery, which includes glimpses of people strolling, running, or biking along the Sacramento River National Recreation Trail. Or, you can find yourself in nature with trees all around to accompany your journey.

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Shasta Lake


Photo courtesy of Antlers Resort & Marina @antlersresort

A massive landmark in Northern California -- or UpState California as we're calling it -- Shasta Lake is a man-made lake with “fingers,” or inlets that appear to be a series of coves that actually connect in the deeper parts of Shasta. These fingers are ideal for kayakers, who can spend hours exploring new parts of the lake while remaining close to the shore to avoid the turbulent wakes of motorized vessels.

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Whiskeytown Lake


Some of the well-loved Whiskeytown National Recreation Area trails are closed for repairs and maintenance after a forest fire swept through this area in 2018, but Oak Bottom Marina is now open, as well as access points along Whiskey Creek and Brandy Creek. Newcomers and longtime-fans of Whiskeytown now get to fall in love with its crystal clear waters all over again. It’s still one of the best sunset paddles around.

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Kutras Pond


Stand-up paddleboard yoga at Kutras Park. Photo courtesy of Audrey DeLong via Instagram @audreydlong

Well-loved by families, SUP yogis, meetup groups, and quite a few ducks quacking their way across the water, this clear and quaint pond is located in Kutras Park just a stone’s throw from the Sacramento River. It’s a great place for beginners to brush up on some paddling skills before braving the river or larger lakes in the area.

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Manzanita Lake


Photo courtesy of Madi McCarley via Instagram

If you are seeking a little peace and quiet and don’t mind a quick day adventure 45 minutes east of Redding, Manzanita Lake in Lassen Volcanic National Park is worth the trip. Located near the north entrance of the park, the lake features 360-degree views of the peaks and volcanoes of the southern Cascade, cooler temperatures than you’ll find closer to Redding, and untouched natural landscapes as far as the eye can see. Plus the lake is open only to non-motorized boats, so you’re guaranteed to have a quiet paddle. If you’re into fishing, bring your pole along with you.

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Renting Kayaks and Equipment


Photo courtesy of Headwaters Adventure Company @headwatersadventurecompany via Instagram

Need to rent gear? There are several local businesses that make it their job to get you set up in safe, reliable, and fun gear. Located in Redding, Action Sports Rentals, Jefferson State Adventure Hub, and Headwaters Adventure Company can all provide you with kayaks (and stand-up paddleboards) for any adventure. When visiting Whiskeytown Lake, the Oak Bottom Marina can provide you a boat right on the water. On Shasta Lake, Holiday Harbor, Jones Valley Resort and Antler's Resort and Marina all offer easy ways to jump in a kayak or other boat and start exploring.

No matter what destination near Redding you choose, you’ll find that traveling by kayak is a relaxing way to sit back and enjoy the incredible views of the region. See why it’s become a must-do activity for so many people who visit this region again and again.

Written by Jill Sanford for Matcha in partnership with Redding CVB.

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