Redding included in Jaw-Dropping Outdoor Destinations to Visit
We did it! We survived 2020! With a crazy year in the rearview mirror, it’s about time we look forward to a positive future. It’s time to make 2021 the best year ever and we have some ideas how you can accomplish that in Northern California.
The outdoor destinations of NorCal are some of the most jaw-dropping on the planet. From the active volcanoes to the stunning waterfalls and massive redwood trees, there’s so much to see in California’s north. No matter what you like to do outdoors, we’ve got you covered.
Here are 21 sensational outdoor destinations to visit in Northern California in 2021:
What can we say about Mount Shasta that hasn’t been documented heavily on this site? The Crown of California is as beautiful as it is a mystery to everyone who gets close to it. It’s the perfect outdoor playground for anyone, giving majestic slopes and tributaries to anyone that comes in its path.
There’s so many ways to enjoy Mount Shasta. You can earn insane views of the active volcano from Heart Lake. You can hike the lush meadows of the lower elevation areas. Or you can drink from the headwaters of the Sacramento River at the bottom of the mountain.
On any given day, you’re also likely to see one of the magical lenticular clouds that make Shasta so famous. The clouds lend to the legends surrounding the area, including sightings of aliens, Bigfoot and the beings living inside the mountain – Lemurians.
It’s hard to beat the experience you get when you’re standing at the summit of a significant mountain, especially when it’s an active volcano. The hike to the top of Lassen Peak is not as strenuous as one might think and you will experience amazing views of Lassen Volcanic National Park and the Northern California surroundings.
There’s no question why the Lassen Peak hike remains the most popular in the park. It’s not particularly strenuous and is a great memory for anyone looking to experience the beauty of the world.
For many people around the globe, when they think of Northern California, they think of Burney Falls. Located just north of Redding between Lassen Peak and Mt. Shasta in California’s lava country, is famous for its 129-foot waterfall, which cascades from Burney Creek down into Lake Britton. The falls are a sacred place for the Pit River Indian Tribe, who have held ceremonial rituals here for thousands of years. President Theodore Roosevelt was so impressed with the waterfall, he dubbed it the “Eighth Wonder of the World.”
The year-round falls are formed by melting snow from Burney Mountain, which travels through underground streams before hitting solid rock and flowing back to the surface. Each day, more than 100 million gallons of water plunge over the falls.
While you’re there, don’t miss the Falls Loop Trail, which is a 1-mile hike to the base of the falls and back up. During the walk, you’ll see lava flows and fractured basalt — evidence of the region’s turbulent volcanic activity. After descending 100 feet into Burney Canyon, we’re rewarded with a cool mist at the base of the falls.
Lassen Volcanic National Park is one of the best kept secrets in Northern California, as its a hotbed of volcanic activity surrounding its active volcano, Lassen Peak. This is no more evident as Bumpass Hell, an area of plopping mudpots, bubbling pools, and roaring steam vents sitting inside the park.
The descent to hell is easy. The 3-mile roundtrip hike gives you great views of Lassen Peak, Lake Hellen, Brokeoff Mountain, Mt. Diller and the dense valley below the trail at 8,000 feet elevation. It’s one of the more popular hikes in the park due to the dense scenery on such a short trek.
Kendall Vanhook Bumpass, a hunter/cowboy/prospector, discovered the area in 1864 while looking for stray cattle. During his first visit he broke through the thin crust of the earth and burnt his foot on the boiling mudpots below. When he returned home and others asked him where he’d been, he replied “Boys, I have been in Hell.”
Today, a beautiful walkway allows you to get up close and personal with the hydrothermal wonder. It’s one of the great adventures in NorCal.
In McCloud, California sits one of the premiere outdoor destinations in Northern California. McCloud Falls offers visitors three beautiful and unique waterfalls within a short hike. It’s the perfect place to bring the family to swim and enjoy the great outdoors.
McCloud Falls, located just outside of Mount Shasta, California, actually consists of three different waterfalls, all with their own distinct personalities. The three tiers of McCloud Falls – Upper, Middle and Lower – provides visitors one of the best outdoor experiences in NorCal. It’s a beautiful hike to see all three waterfalls and in the summer months there is some great opportunities for swimming and recreation.
While Upper is difficult to get to and Lower is the smaller of the three, Middle McClouds Falls remains the most popular waterfall in the area. It contains a large swimming hole at the bottom and you can even catch some crazy cliff jumpers putting on a show. But one thing’s for sure, you can’t go wrong with any of them.
A flowing phantom haunts Table Mountain near Oroville. It disappears during the summer, and remains well hidden in remote Coal Canyon the rest of the year. The lucky few that stumble upon it boast of its sinister beauty. A narrow cascade reaching 134 feet to the bottom of Coal Canyon, Phantom Falls seems most drawn to the wet, gloomy months of winter (only fitting right?). When dark clouds clear for a few days and wildflower displays are at their height February-April, Phantom Falls is one of the best spectacles in the North State.
Unfortunately, getting to Phantom Falls is about as hard as finding an actual phantom. No established trail leads to the landmark, which sometimes necessitates the use of a GPS or compass to find it (Lat/Long: 39.61041, -121.56063). Hikers also need to proceed with caution through the area to avoid trespassing or trampling over wildflowers.
Begin from the “trailhead” (again there’s no trail) at the unmarked parking lot adjacent to a green cattle gate off Cherokee Road (directions below). To ensure legal passage, head northwest to a drainage that sits due south of the falls. At this point, you’ll ascend a steep gorge. Try your best to avoid poison oak. After close to two miles of walking, you’ll reach a cliff that overlooks Coal Canyon and Phantom Falls. There, you can marvel at the splendor of your surroundings. Bring a camera.
You’d be hard pressed to find a more pristine area in Northern California than the Whiskeytown National Recreation Area. Whiskeytown Lake is the centerpiece of the park that includes four waterfalls, hundreds of miles of trails and a beautiful beach.
There’s something for everyone at Whiskeytown. You can hike a peak, visit a waterfall, go for a swim, enjoy the lake from a boat, go fishing, lounge on the beach or even do some water skiing. Whiskeytown is a local favorite for Redding residents and is a must-see destination for anyone visiting the area.
Lake Shasta Caverns
While most people head to the lake for sunny vibes, there’s also an awesome experience you can find underground. Lake Shasta Caverns are a network of caves located near the McCloud arm of the lake and is one of the most unforgettable cave adventures found in the country.
The tour begins with a long downhill hike to the patio boat that carries you to the other side of the McCloud River arm of the Shasta Lake. Once you arrive at water level, the boat ride is wonderful. Though Shasta Caverns is only a short drive north of Redding, you may be shocked by how otherworldly it really is. Maybe that’s the point.
Once in the cave you are ushered through chambers of all sizes, some up a flight of stairs, some down. Each cavern has a name, and a story. Though I have been known to get claustrophobic in tight places, I’ve never felt that way inside Shasta Caverns. There is so much to see and too many great stories to listen to. The tour takes at least an hour, and the time flies.