This guide is intended for novice riders. For experienced cyclists Redding has some of the best road cycling available anywhere.... more » Contact a local bike store for more information.
The Sacramento River Trail system includes over 50 miles of paved trails. This guide will take you along the length of this incredible trail system. In total, the 50 mile trail includes 2,500 feet of elevation gain, but small sections of the trail can be ridden to accommodate any fitness level. How many places can you ride a bike for 50 miles and not have to worry about traffic? This is an amazing trail worth a trip to Redding.
The primary trail starts at the Sundial Bridge, and makes it way through central Redding, and finally to the top of Shasta Dam. The majority of the trail follows the historic railroad bed that once connected Oakland, CA to Portland, OR (1885-1942). Chinese workers (primarily) used hand picks and shovels to create the railroad bed in the 1880s. This part of the railroad was abandoned as the primary railroad line to Oregon when Shasta Dam was completed, but it continued to be a branch line until 1980. The views and scenery are incredible along the entire trail.
The paved trail system is navigable by any bicycle, but to ride the entire trail you would do best with a mountain bike, or better yet, a road bike with multiple gears. Some sections are steep and require low gears, and excellent brakes. Be sure to take water and food if you plan on heading to Shasta Dam. The last available water until you reach Shasta Dam is a mile past the ribbon foot bridge, so be sure to fill up your water bottles. There are multiple restrooms , which are noted in this guide. Do not expect to find water at all the restrooms. Many are pit toilets with no running water. Where water is available it is noted in the guide. There is a water fountain near the visitor's center on the top of Shasta Dam. There is also fairly well hidden water source just below the Dam at the OHV area in the parking area east of the trail. It is hard to find.
This guide generally does not include mountain biking, but many incredible mountain bike trails are available in the Redding area, and a significant number of trails can be accessed from the River Trail. I've included just two trailheads for mountain bikes, but this guide is not intended to provide comprehensive data on mountain biking. Max Walter's book, North State Singletrack, is the definitive guide for mountain bike trails in the area. Copies can be found in local bike shops, or online: http://www.geocities.com/mtbikewhiskeytown/. Soon this site will be moved to http://www.northstatesingletrack.com .
Please ride slowly when you are in the city limits of Redding. There are many children on bikes, tourists taking pictures, and people generally enjoying all the natural beauty on the trail system. These people are completely unaware that cyclists are coming their way, so it is up to you to keep everyone safe. Be sure to announce your presence when overtaking joggers, walkers, and other cyclists by calling, "On your left," as you pass. Once you pass the ribbon foot bridge, it is safe to increase speed.
Weather in the winter can be very cold, and it can snow, although this is rare. It rains heavily all winter, so be prepared. Fall and spring can vary in temperature from the 70's to the low 90's, and it is the preferred time to enjoy the scenery and wildlife. In the summer expect it to be over 100 degrees by 12:00 noon. It is highly recommended to take this trail in the early morning during the summer season, and early fall.
For experienced cyclists, there is an additional loop at the top of Shasta Dam. The mileage for this section is not part of the 49.5 miles. This is a steep, scenic section with fair to good shoulder. Once you reach the bottom of the decent at Lake Boulevard and Shasta Dam Boulevard, it connects back again with the Dam, but the road leading from Lake Boulevard back to the Dam has a terrible shoulder, and a lot of boat trailer traffic. It is doable, but it should be avoided during heavy traffic times ( weekends, summer, and holidays). A safer and excellent option is to take the road to the Shasta Dam overlook and then return to the dam without making the complete loop. less «