Within 30 minutes of arriving at my Redding Marriott hotel, I was already planning my next visit to the area. Maps of biking and hiking trails lay before me. I could already see that my husband and I would not have time to ride and walk all the nifty, scenic paths Redding has to offer. Therefore I made a mental promise to return to hit the bike path from Shasta Dam to the Sundial Bridge. In that moment, though, the hubster and I were changing into our bike shorts to wheel along the river trail, as it lay mostly in shade on this HOT summer day.
Who enjoys road trips, but hates sitting in the car for hours on end? Who likes to head places where you can be active, get outdoors, yet not overdo the exercise thaaang? Do you also love nature, scenery, and hardly any traffic, followed by healthy restaurant food and a comfy hotel room at the end of a day? If so, then head to Redding which has a TON of recreational activities to offer, especially for the over 50 funseeker, all within easy striking distance.
When I was offered the chance to Visit Redding on my way to catch the total eclipse in Oregon, I jumped. Well, I don’t actually jump after knee replacement. But I happy danced a bit. (Thanks VisitRedding for sponsoring our short vacay within a longer vacay). My sister and I had visited Redding a year ago (check out what we discovered in the posts below). We noted that it was perfect for active baby boomers who want to get out and about, burn some calories, and generally move a bit when taking in sights — all on a really reasonable budget. Visiting again for 3 days with the hubster, who just retired, sounded perfect. (Keep scrolling down to find out about the freebies).
The area has so much to offer that is accessible, fun, and beautiful. Yeah, it’s hot as all get-out in the summer, but you can still find a lot to do if you plan your activities by where the shade is. For us, that meant unloading our bicycles and pedaling almost 10 easy miles along the mostly flat Sacramento river trail starting at the Turtle Bay Exploration Park. You’ll find water fountains, bathrooms, yet few people along the way whether hiking or biking, so definitely add this to your plans. Parking is free, so no excuses.Who likes to travel where you can be active, get outdoors, yet not overdo the exercise thaaang? Click To Tweet
And what could be cooler than to visit Shasta Caverns or the Subway Cave, less than an hour away? Climbing the few steps down into the Subway Cave opening led us to a refreshing, DARK lava tube where the temperature drooped by about 15 degrees. Hey, just taking in my first lava tube sounded enticing. Combined with the chance to walk — flashlights or a flashlight app on your cell phone required — this adventure was worth the short drive. Hot tip, or rather cool tip — when you get to the end of the Subway Cave, instead of climbing up and walking back to the parking lot in the heat, simply turn around and retrace your steps inside the lave tube. Turn off your light at some point and savor the pitch black.
Notice that so far the activities have been FREE (except the tour of Shasta Caverns, which is worth the fee plus you get to rack up more movement climbing the cave stairs). My kind of active adventure. Additional free attractions beckoned. To be more accurate, once you pay the respective park entrance fees, everything you do inside the parks is free. Oh, and another hot tip — hang onto the car sticker showing you paid your entrance fee as it’s good at other parks in the area for up to 7 days.
Consider Burney Falls State Park if you want more shaded, achievable, moderate hiking in your day. Continue past the majority of visitors who walk down to the falls, cool off in the spray, snap a selfie, then head back to their cars. No sireee — for those who want a little more from their trips, follow the trail along the river as it meanders past a few small bridges, then up into more trees. Don’t you still want to get in your daily 10,000 steps without overdoing it? Totally pleasant, well-marked trail and another moderate intensity activity to add to your lifetime memories.
From waterfalls to Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, take in more water adventure. Did you know you can book free ranger guided kayaking tours on Whiskeytown Lake? Sure, you need to call ahead to reserve a kayak. Like a day ahead, so you can be sort of spontaneous. The rangers want people to visit, take advantage of the lake, and connect with nature. Ergo – free kayaking. This kayak program is the deal of the day so be sure to check it out. The lake is less than 20 minutes from Redding. No traffic, easy drive. The hubs and I opted for the sunset paddle, which turned out to be a smart choice. We avoided midday heat and had most of the lake to ourselves — just the ranger, 5 other kayakers, and 3 people fishing in the bays we paddled into.
We packed in so much in our 3 days and still did not come close to taking in everything. I have now traveled to Redding and the area around it – Shasta, Lassen, Whiskeytown — in spring and summer. Next on my active vacation adventure list is to go back in fall. My goal is to bike ride along every path marked “easy” and “moderate.” Nothing “hard” about what we baby boomers can do in Redding!
DISCLOSURE: VisitRedding sponsored our 3 days in the area, including VIP tickets to Opening Night of the Redding Craft Beer week (Keeping the hubs happy) and a personal Lucero Olive Oil tasting tour which appealed to both our sets of taste buds. Calories burned were on me. Hotel, meals, and entrance fees were on them.
ACTION: Go to Redding. I’ll go with you. Oh, and subscribe if you are so inclined and have not yet claimed your free bonus for joining our active aging community.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
These are the activities we had planned for our final two days in Redding last month. To learn about our adventures for the first two days, please read our recent post about Redding.
Whiskey Creek Lake
When we woke up Sunday morning, the sky was drizzly, but not too bad, so the SUP yoga class with Audrey was still on. Swimsuits on and towels packed in the car, we drove out to Whiskey Creek Boat Launch to find a few hardy souls ready to brave what had now become a very strong, cold rain. A quick vote was taken and it was decided to cancel class, a rare occurrence. We hope you’ll give it a try when you go to Redding, and say hi to Audrey.
Of course, as soon as we drove away, the weather turned sunny. Isn’t that how it always works? So we gathered up our good attitudes and hiked to the top of Crystal Creek Waterfall. By the time we came back down to the main pool, kids were swimming in it, and splashing under the falls. We imagine it’s a perfect spot to cool off when it gets over 100 degrees in the summer. On the way back to town we stopped at the Tower House Historic District to check out the former hotel, gold mine and cemetery.
In the afternoon, we went to the Aqua Golf Driving Range, where you get to hit golf balls into the Sacramento River. Or, in our case, in the general direction of the river. The area is enclosed by a net, and the golf balls float, so it’s a recyling-friendly event.
We laughed so hard, and had a really fun time. We also discovered (my 19-year-old beat the pants off us) that being athletic has no relationship to golf swing skill. Face it, we were awful. Even the geese were impertinently walking right in front of us, daring us to hit a ball near them.
Turtle Bay and Sundial Bridge
Most people who have heard of Redding know about Turtle Bay and the Sundial Bridge, and for good reason. We were at Turtle Bay at the right time to see the lorikeets and butterflies start their day, before the crowds arrived. We even saw ducklings drop from the sky onto the ground just in front of us. Or at least that’s what it seemed like. Later we learned from Ranger Jim (see below) that they were probably wood ducks dropping from their tree nest. Want to know a secret about the Sundial Bridge? If you go during nesting time (we were there in May), look down through the glass partitions where the bridge supports attach to try and spot the swallow nests. We saw all kinds of nest-building going on, with the sparrows going in and out with their building materials. Super cool.
Whiskeytown Lake has 36 miles of shoreline and 3,200 surface acres for recreation, and I think we had that entire space to ourselves. Park Superintendent Jim Milestone was our private guide, and he even spotted a bald eagle with two chicks waaaaaaay up in a tree. (Note to self: Get a really good zoom lens for future kayaking adventures). The kayaking (they also have SUP) is free, though they do have a donation box, so be a good citizen and put in a few Tubmans. Besides showing us the lake’s treasures, Ranger Jim also shared stories about the history of the lake and President Kennedy’s visit in 1963.
The National Parks Service is celebrating its centennial this year, so we encourage you to hie thee hence to the area, using Redding as your base. And if you spot Ranger Jim (or bald eagle chicks), you’ll know it’s your lucky day.
by Alexandra Williams, MA
photo credits: Alexandra