Cycling without having to worry about cars? Hooray! Cycling beside a gently flowing river through fall foliage? Double hooray! The Sacramento River Trail in Redding lives up to its reputation as a premier rail trail in the country: 17 miles of buttery pavement for bikes and pedestrians only. And fall is one of the best times to experience it. Starting from Redding’s famous Sundial Bridge, the trail follows the Sacramento River upstream for 17 miles (one-way), ending at Shasta Dam. The first few minutes riding through town you’ll encounter people, but before you know it, you’ll be cycling among the ponderosa pines and changing fall colors with no one in sight.
The first few miles, up to Keswick Dam, are mostly flat, but then comes “Heartrate Hill.” These hills and dips and curves are more like a rollercoaster and add some nice mix to the mostly flat ride. Don’t worry, it doesn’t go on long; soon enough you’ll be cruising on the flats again… until the final mile, that is! This is when you hit a work-for-it climb up to beautiful Lake Shasta and Shasta Dam. It’s worth it. From up here white-topped Mount Shasta gleams in the distance.
Park at the Sundial Bridge/Turtle Bay Exploration Park. Cross over the Sundial Bridge, turn left, and continue on the Sacramento River Trail. After about 2.5 miles the trail comes to Harlan Dr.—turn left and continue a few hundred feet to pick up the trail again. About one mile further, you’ll cross over the Sacramento River at Ribbon Bridge. From here to Shasta Dam you’ll be riding on the west side of the river. It’s 34 miles round-trip. Map.