December 6, 2022

REDDING MOUNTAIN BIKING: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO LOCAL BIKE TRAILS

Mountain bike riders at top of the world

If you’re not hiking or fishing in Redding, chances are, you’re mountain biking. With nearly 100 miles of bike trails in the area, there are few better places to do it in all of California.

Redding bike trails include all degrees of difficulty, showcasing the beauty of the city and its surrounding countryside.

Looking for a challenge? There are at least a dozen climbs of up to 5,000 feet for serious mountain bike masochists.

Redding’s abundance of diverse and challenging mountain bike trails used to be one of the country’s best-kept secrets. Not anymore!

Bikes on rack in Redding CA

Photo Credit: Christopher Michael Everett

MOUNTAIN BIKING CULTURE IN REDDING

It all started in 1981 when a field of 76 competed at the 36-mile Whiskeytown Downhill, one of the first mountain bike races in the United States.

The number of entrants ballooned to more than 500 within five years as word quickly spread of the challenging climbs, thrilling descents, and picture postcard backdrops that Redding offered.

Combining the logistical difficulties of the Whiskeytown Downhill with a rider limit being reduced to 350 in 1986, the Whiskeytown Downhill Mountain bike race went the way of the dodo. But the culture was established, and the iconic Lemurian Classic mountain bike race was born just one year later.

Following a golden era of trail building in the early 2000s, a concerted push from influential locals in recent years helped restore Redding’s visibility and reputation as a world-class mountain biking destination.

One of those is Redding’s Bigfoot MTB Challenge, giving eager riders the task of completing 15 trails split into beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels.

Whether it’s downtown Redding, Whiskeytown, Swasey, or somewhere in between that strikes your interest, you’ll have hours of fun exploring bike trails in Redding, CA.

RELAXED MOUNTAIN BIKING FOR BEGINNERS IN REDDING

Suppose you’re not looking to break records or roll the legs over while taking in some scenery. In that case, there are plenty of mountain biking trails in Redding that you’ll find just right.

A woman on a bike crossing the Sundial Bridge in Redding

The Sundial Bridge | Photo Credit: The Nomadic People

SACRAMENTO RIVER TRAIL

There is as much to see and do along the meandering Sacramento River as there are ways to enjoy it.

The Turtle Bay Loop Trail is just over a mile long, passing by the Sundial Bridge, the historic Monolith, and Turtle Bay Exploration Park in one short ride.

The leafy one-mile trail along the northern bank takes you from Harlan Drive to Lake Redding.

Or, for a slightly longer journey of 1.4 miles, head in an easterly direction from Lake Redding to the Sundial Bridge.

A dad and two boys on mountain bikes overlooking Keswick Dam in Redding, CA

Keswick Dam | Photo Credit: Ryan Thompson

FB UPPER AND LOWER TRAILS

The FB Trail is another extremely popular trail with locals looking for some mellow miles.

Starting at the parking lot on Keswick Dam Boulevard, you can take a 1.7-mile flowy descent down to the Stress Ribbon bridge on the Sacramento River trail, or you can head north along the beautiful shoreline of Keswick Lake.

This 7-mile trail leads to endless singletrack opportunities in the Hornbeck trail system. 

Parking is available in the lot off Keswick Dam Boulevard.

MOUNTAIN BIKING FOR ALL LEVELS AT WHISKEYTOWN RECREATION AREA

Just a 12-minute drive west of Redding lands you at the shores of Whiskeytown Lake.

Whether you love climbs, downhills, or single tracks, Whiskeytown is a mountain biker’s playground.

Decorated with beautiful waterways, every ride is a scenic one.

Stay overnight, if you wish, in one of its numerous camping grounds.

Just don’t forget to purchase an entrance pass!

PAPOOSE

Papoose is a hand-built single track that begins at Sheep Camp, a popular campground in Whiskeytown.

Although this trail is rated as intermediate, be prepared to put in some effort to get to the top.

Just remember, what goes up must come down.

Whether you continue down to the beautiful Boulder Creek Falls or turn around and return the way you came, you’re in for a thrilling ride!

OAK BOTTOM WATER DITCH TRAIL

Oak Bottom Trail is a 2-mile trail with some gentle ups and downs.

It’s rated easy and is a very popular trail, perfect for bird watchers and bikers alike.

If you find yourself wanting to take a dip, a private swimming hole along the northwest arm of Whiskeytown Lake is a local favorite.

PRINCESS DITCH TRAIL

Princess Ditch is perfect for beginners looking for a longer ride.

This 8-mile scenic single track is a relatively flat trail with just the right amount of flow.

One great thing to note is Princess Ditch connects BLM’s Swasey Recreation Area to Whiskeytown’s National Recreation Area, linking together multiple days of riding.

A MOUNTAIN BIKER’S PARADISE AT SWASEY RECREATION AREA AND BEYOND

A short drive west of Redding, Swasey Recreation Area is the number one destination for mountain bike enthusiasts in the Redding area—and one of the best in Northern California.

Its purpose-built flow tracks range in difficulty from beginner to advanced.

Ride along some historic mining ditches, take a steady climb up to Mule Mountain Pass, or enjoy the spectacular views along the Mule Ridge trail.

Mountain bikers at Swasey Recreation Area

Swasey Recreation Area | Photo Credit: Ryan Thompson

ENTICER

A favorite among locals, the Enticer is a mile-long trail considered to be the best jump trail in the area. This jump trail has attracted some of the most famous mountain bike athletes and YouTubers around.

Be careful not to get in over your head! Enticer hasn’t earned a black diamond rating for nothing.

It was aptly named to entice riders far and wide to Redding and as a nod to snowmobiler Larry Enticer whose catchphrase of “I’m just gonna send it” became the motto of the builders as they tested the newly formed jumps.

You can lap it via Owens Run, the newest trail in the Swasey Recreation Area, which links into the Wintu Loop just west of the Enticer.

FRENCH FRY TRAIL

There’s something for everyone on the French Fry Trail, with 6.1 miles featuring fast single tracks, short climbs, and some technical maneuvers towards the lower end of the trail.

French Fry is an intermediate trail requiring a bit of caution around the rock gardens.

This trail can be ridden both ways but is best enjoyed south to north, featuring a climb of 314 feet over the first one and a half miles.

Hop on French Fry from the Old Shasta transfer station and begin just north of Highway 299 and Middle Creek Road.

SNAIL TRAIL

Perfect for intermediate to advanced riders, Snail Trail is a 732-foot descent over 1.6 miles and has no shortage of berms and gentle jumps to get the heart started without too much danger.

The trail starts at Black Bear Pass and hooks up with the Mule Mountain Trail.

It’s a smooth ride for the most part, save for some tight switchbacks and rocks in the center of the trail designed to keep speeds in check.

ESCALATOR

Some escalators go down, and some go up. This Escalator does both in a 2.5-mile ride that climbs 616 feet.

It’s perfect for intermediate riders, not too taxing, and not too technical while still a great challenge and a heap of fun.

Escalator connects you with other great trails, including Snail Trail, Terminator, and Mule Ridge.

If the journey is too short for your liking, try adding the Meiner’s Loop, which extends it to 7.5 miles.

Mountain bikers cooling off at Whiskeytown Lake outside Redding, CA

Whiskeytown Lake | Photo Credit: Avery Rosenthal

GO MOUNTAIN BIKING IN REDDING, CA 

A weekend on the bike trails in Redding, CA just isn’t enough to explore all the city has to offer.

We hope you’ll come back again and again to enjoy Redding’s ever-expanding bike trail system, which wouldn’t be what it is today without Redding Trail Alliance

Bring your own gear, or check out local stores such as Chain GangThe Bike Shop, and Redding Sports Ltd for everything you need. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, sign up for the Lemurian Classic

Learn more about Redding, CA bike trails on our Biking Trails page.

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