Shasta Cascades Outdoor Adventure in California
By Vange Tapia
Living in California, my husband and I take for granted the natural beauty of the nearby mountains, but we recently took a trip to the Shasta Cascade region of California and were awed all over again by the magnificent landscapes, outdoor recreation and rich history.
The Vibrant City of Redding
Our journey began in Northern California with a scenic drive north of Sacramento to the charming city of Redding. With every passing mile, the landscape became more and more vibrant. Driving into Redding revealed one of the many man-made wonders of this area: the Sundial Bridge. This unique bridge is designed to act as a working sundial, and even though its architecture is striking, it actually is suspended by cables making it environmentally sensitive to the salmon habitats in the river. Several fly-fishing publications, professional guides and Forbes have rated Redding as a top 10 fishing town in North America!
That evening, my husband Justin and I enjoyed a salmon dinner at Cafe Paradisio in downtown Redding. This bistro provides a casually elegant ambiance and delicious cuisine. I had the beet salad, which was fantastic! Fortified, we resolved to get up early to explore.
Whiskeytown National Recreation Area
The next day we started off to the Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, famous for its lake of sapphire blue waters surrounded by the pine-covered foothills of the nearby mountains. While the main attraction for Whiskeytown is water recreation, the park also provides ample opportunities for wildlife viewing, camping, mountain biking and hiking. Whiskeytown also has four major waterfalls that you can visit year round. We were able to take a tour guided with Sean, a forest ranger, to the hidden gem Whiskeytown Falls. Nothing gives you a greater sense of accomplishment than hiking to the upper viewpoint of a waterfall!
This region also has a historic side. The area was once a popular spot for gold mining, and still offers gold panning in designated areas along the river with an easy-to-arrange permit. I thought for sure I had struck it rich many times, but to no avail. It was still fun. I did see someone further away actually collect some real gold flakes, so I am hopeful for the next time I visit.
Water Sports, Outdoors and Mud Pots
At the Oak Bottom Marina on Whiskeytown Lake, you can rent boats and kayaks or just swim from the lake beaches.
Another must-see for outdoor adventurers in the Shasta Cascade area is the Lassen Volcanic National Park. The dominant feature of the park is Lassen Peak. Hiking, sightseeing, biking and maybe taking in sulphuric fumes of the boiling mud pots are some of the activities to enjoy. We drove through the scenic roads of this park and the views were stunning.
On our last night in Redding, we dined at the trendy and modern American style View 202 Restaurant & Lounge. We ordered shoestring fries, organic quinoa salad and butternut squash ravioli with some nice live music playing in the background and a peaceful view to the Sacramento River.
The Shasta Cascade region is a treasure of natural beauty that invites exploration. Justin and I are planning to come back and live the adventure again!