Tucked away in Northern California's Shasta County is the charming town of Redding. Over the years the Bureau of Land Management, with many partners, has worked diligently to develop one of the premier trail destinations in the West. The 30-mile corridor that runs along the banks of the Sacramento River and Keswick Reservoir is the pride of Redding's trail system with the Sacramento River Rail-Trail, and the Sacramento River Trail, both National Recreation Trails. The trails offer stunning views of the river and nearby mountains—and a close-up look at one of the most breathtaking bicycle/pedestrian bridges in the country. The rail-trail is paved all the way to Shasta Dam and to the Shasta State Historic Park in Shasta, CA.
From the southern trailhead at Keswick Dam, head west along the Sacramento River and along the lower rail-trail for 2.9 miles. A wooded section quickly gives way to an open area with striking views of the Trinity Mountains. At the trail junction near the Rock Creek trailhead, continue right on the rail-trail, which follows the old Central Pacific Railroad bed for another 8.2 miles.
The southern end of this rail-trail links up with its neighbor, the Sacramento River Trail in Redding. One of the trail’s signature features is the Sundial Bridge. Designed by world-renowned architect Santiago Calatrava, the bridge is surfaced with translucent structural glass that is illuminated from beneath and glows at night. The bicycle/pedestrian bridge is also a functional sundial, the largest in the world.
In spring the river has a glacial, deep-blue hue from melting mountain snow. The river powered mining operations during the late 1800s, and local trail maps delve into the area's history of its mining operations. If you want to do a loop on dirt trails, cross Shasta dam to the visitor center: look for a trailhead kiosk at the south end of the parking lot or stop in the visitor center and ask for directions.
Trailheads and parking lots are located off Keswick Dam Road at Keswick Dam, off Iron Mountain Road next to Rock Creek Road, and at Shasta Dam.