August 27, 2020

Trails and Ales: Redding, California

lassen trails

It’s hard not to like a city with a National Recreation Area named Whiskeytown. Redding was included in a featured spotlight series where scenic hiking trails and vistas are paired with local breweries for a picture perfect match.

It’s hard not to like a city with a National Recreation Area named Whiskeytown. (It’s just down the road from Murderers Gulch.) Redding in Northern California has ranked a spot on Forbes’ list of North America’s Top 10 Trout Fishing Towns, features the iconic Sundial Bridge, designed by Santiago Calatrava, and the city is a stone’s throw from Mount Shasta, which remains snow-capped throughout most years.

Whether your happy place is a lake, river, mountain or waterfall, this area has you covered. And the ever-growing beer scene runs the gamut from a nanobrewery that imports ingredients from Europe to an establishment whose products are distributed from Sonoma County to the Oregon border.

Sacramento River National Recreation Trail

How to get there from downtown: Find the trailhead at 777 Auditorium Drive

Distance: An easy 3.4 miles (out-and-back)

Beer: Woody’s Brewing Company

The Trail: The Sacramento River National Recreation Trail is a paved walk that follows the bank of the river. After walking across the Sundial Bridge and snapping a couple of obligatory selfies, turn left for the trailhead. The trail actually goes for 17 miles to Shasta Dam, but a good section is from Sundial to the Diestelhorst Bridge and back.

The hike is nicely tree-shaded and there are plenty of spots to step down over rocks into the river if you’d like to get your feet wet. Besides the scenery, enjoy the sound-ery: the rushing whirr of the waters a few yards away. The river continues to flow southward to San Francisco Bay, then out the Golden Gate to the Pacific.

The Beer: If all that water makes you thirsty, it’s time for a visit to Woody’s Brewing Company, run by three brothers and featuring over 16 offerings. In addition to traditional English-style IPA’s, Kurt, the head brewer, has been experimenting with barrel aging and hazies. Try the Shasta Haze with tropical and citrus notes, or go for a flight of six 5-oz pours to sample the wares. Everything goes with Woody’s famous tater tots.

Flanagan and Chamise Peak

How to get there from downtown: Drive 15 minutes north of Redding, find the trailhead off of Flanagan Road

Hike: 4.8 miles (out-and-back), moderate

Beer: Final Draft Brewing Company

The Trail: Any trail with “peak” in its name has an implicit promise of great views, and this one delivers. Start out on the Flanagan Trail and turn right when you come to a well-marked pass toward Chamise Peak. Pine and oak and manzanita trees provide shade. You’ll circle the peak a few times in an ever-narrowing spiral until you reach the apex. Due north you’ll see Shasta Dam and to the southeast is the Sacramento River with part of the Cascade Range visible to the northwest.

The Beer: Brewpub ambiance doesn’t get much better than Final Draft Brewing Company with its exposed brick walls and indoor games of cornhole. Brewers Adam and Bart have combined the best elements of their favorite breweries and there’s a rotating selection of 24 styles of beer on tap. A specialty is a blond ale with blackberry puree, called the Blackberry Blond. Tasting sizes are available to help you decide.

Castle Lake Trail

How to get there from downtown: Drive an hour and twenty minutes north to Dunsmuir, find the trailhead off Castle Lake Road.

Hike: 4 miles (out and back), moderate

Beer: Mt. Shasta Brewing Company

The Trail: Castle Lake in the Trinity Mountains is classified geologically as a glacier lake. The trail starts along the lakeshore, then turns left to go up the mountains. You’ll see red and white fir trees and ponderosa pines along the way. Think of it as a giant bowl with water at the bottom; keep the lake in sight below and there’s no need to worry about getting lost.

The Beer: Mount Shasta Brewing Company is located in the town of Weed (yes, that’s the real name), and serves panini and brats and flatbread pizza in addition to beer. The beautiful wood bar is from an old saloon in Fort Jones, California, and was restored with care. Try the Lemurian Lager, made with a German pilsner malt. There are always a couple of creative seasonal brews on offer.

McCloud River Waterfalls Trail

How to get there from downtown: Find the trailhead an hour and and twenty minutes north of Redding, off the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway

Hike: 2.4 miles (out and back) from Lower Falls to Middle Falls, easy. Or continue to upper falls for a total distance of 3.5 miles

Beer: Siskiyou Brew Works

The Trail: This is the real California gold: three waterfalls along a stretch of the McCloud River. Start near Lower Falls, a 12-foot plunge into a large swimming hole where you can take a dip upon your return. The Wintu Native Americans called this spot Nurum-wit-ti-dekki, which means “Falls Where the Salmon Turn Back.”

Follow the trail upriver to Middle Falls which tumbles 44 feet and is one of the widest waterfalls in California. Continue to Upper McCloud Falls which features a narrow gorge with an aquamarine pool below. Along your hike you may see migratory birds, as well as otters. The path follows the river, and the slope has a gentle, steady incline.

The Beer: Siskiyou Brew Works is a small operation but owner Pat’s passion is huge. “Our IPA is entirely different,” Pat says, “made with English ingredients: malt and hops and yeast that come from England.” The result is a beer without bitterness. There’s a daily happy hour from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. when pints are just $3.00. You’re probably not leaving without a groovy poster, each featuring a different Siskiyou Brew Works beer.

Lema Ranch Trails

How to get there from downtown: Take a 10 min drive west to the trailhead off Armando Avenue

Hike: Explore 4 miles on your own

Beer: Fall River Brewing Co. Taphouse

The Trail: Lema Ranch offers serenity and a place to reflect among ponds and willow trees. The ranch is 200 acres of private property owned by the McConnell Foundation. There are five ponds and four miles of paved trails. You’ll see manzanitas and blue oaks along your way, as well as red-tailed hawks and western bluebirds.

The Beer: Cap the experience with a visit to Fall River Taphouse, an innovative brewery focused on new trends. Fall River uses mash filtration technology (as opposed to a lauter tun system) to create full-flavored beers. The Hexagenia “Hex” IPA, piney with floral notes, is their bestseller, and was ranked in the top 100 on Beer Advocate’s user reviews of the best IPAs nationwide.

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