Whiskeytown Lake: Exploring California’s Hidden Gem

by Jane Sophia
Whiskeytown Lake: Exploring California's Hidden Gem

This gorgeous Whiskeytown lake in California is worthy of a trip.

This stunningly beautiful lake is actually a reservoir. It is a popular picnic spot in Shasta County,

California. Shasta County is located in the northwestern part of California.

The lake’s hometown is called Whiskeytown. It is quite an odd name for a place. I would christen a liquor shop with this name.

The sprawling lake is named after its host.

The nearest city to the Lake is Redding, located only 13 km away.

Redding city promises a mammoth 300 days of sunshine in a year. Incidentally, of the sunniest cities in the United States of America,, Redding is ranked number two.

Locate Redding City quickly on the map of California.

On either side of the city, two mountain ranges can be seen.

How to reach the Whiskeytown Lake?

Redding, the nearest city, has an airport. Several cities in the U.S. operate flights to Redding.

Moreover, Redding is accessible by train too. Since the city is a major one, buses provide another means of transport to reach the lake.

Facts about the lake:

  • The surface area is a huge, 3500 acres.
  • It is interestingly situated on an elevated plateau. The height is 1200 feet.
  • Sacramento River is the feeder of the lake.

Whiskeytown Lake: Exploring California’s Hidden Gem

What to do once you reach the Whiskeytown Lake?

  1. Driving around the lake

The first thing the tourists do once they reach town is to drive around the lake. They will see a few scenic spots that are worthy of walking.


  1. Walk around the lake

There is more than one road leading to the lake. Each road has its own highway attractions that include:

  • Brandy Creek (I guessed there will be a place with Brandy as its name)
  • Shasta Bally Marina
  • Backcountry trails
  • A few waterfalls
  1. Boating

It is up to you to select either a kayak, or a standup board. Anyway, both require arm strength.

While both these water sports are for meant for a single participant, you can try both of the adventure.

I read, once you reach the Whiskeytown Lake, time stands still. Hence, you get plenty of time to indulge in both kayaking, and standup paddling.

Water-skiing is another form of water-based adventure that is available here.

  1. Swimming

Yes, you can swim in the lake. Many visitors do that. After all, the weather is hot, and you will have an irresistible urge to get into the water to cool yourself.

  1. Fishing

I believe recreational fishing is allowed on the lake. However, there is thin information about what kinds of fishes are living in the lake.

Spotted bass and rainbow trout seem to be the most vulnerable to falling into the trap.

  1. Wildlife in and around the Lake

Oh, you have quite a lot of animals to watch out for near the lake. Even, the black bear is seen often. Other animals that you can easily recognize are:

  • Coyote
  • Fox
  • Mountain Lion (Cougar) –it is a lion without the menacing mane.
  • Bunny
  • Bats
  • Raccoon

Among the birds, one can spot a few well-known species, such as:

  • Rufous Hummingbird
  • Red-breasted Sapsucker (what a name)
  • Bank Swallow
  • Bald Eagles (actually, they are not bald)
  1. Camping

As expected, the lake area has good campgrounds. I suppose, you can come in your own or a rented motorhome.

There are several RV parks around the lake. The top three are Brandy Creek, Oak Bottom (a very large RV park), and Crystal Creek.

If advance booking is allowed, try to reserve a spot among these three.

  1. Sacramento River Trail

This is quite a lengthy hiking trail in California, touching several spectacular and scenic surroundings.

You have to head to Redding City to get to the trail. 28 km is the length of the trail, out of the 515 km, that passes through Redding.

The amenities include the most essential bathrooms along the trail.

The trail is also used by ardent bikers.

OMG! The trail is very beautiful, and the landscape is diverse. The bridge for the walkers and cyclists is also awesome. The name of the bridge is, “River Trail Bridge”.

There are a few lookout points that act as picnic spots.

You can either follow the trail’s directions, or deviate at your whims, and wishes. It is the best way to explore the geography.

  1. Whiskeytown National Recreation Area

All the adventure activities mentioned above can be carried out in this recreational area.

In addition, places of canopy are ideal for spreading your picnic carpet on the lawn, and enjoying your chilled beer, and cold sandwiches.

A mini waterfall will cheer you up further. It is set amidst some dark wooded area.

  1. Mc Connell Arboretum and Botanical Gardens

A botanical garden where mainly trees are cultivated and nurtured with love is known as an Arboretum.

In addition, this particular arboretum in Redding City is growing some exceptional and rare grass species, as one below.

The various species of tree species were imported from Chile, South Africa, Sierra Nevada, and even as far as Australia.

I am a big tree lover. An arboretum is an ultimate haven for liked-minded people.

Here in Redding’s botanical gardens there is a small butterfly garden too. At any time, butterfly preserves capture our attention.

There are signboards pointing to different variety of gardens. Actually, you do not even need a guide in such a well-described botanical garden.

Do not fail to enter the ‘oakery; (an oak forest). It is a very sight.

  1. Turtle Bay Exploration Park

The main attraction here is a superb, bridge known as Sundial Bridge.

As the name indicates, a device on the bridge will tell you the time of the day, when the sunlight falls on it.

The Sundial Bridge is also meant only for pedestrians, and cyclists.

Among so many nearby attractions, the Turtle Bay Exploration Park is a must-visit place.

The bridge is built over the Sacramento River.

The park area has:

  • A museum
  • A mini zoo
  • A small aquarium
  • Children play area
  1. Shasta Bally

This is the name of a mountain that is located some 32 km from the scenic lake, Northern California.

The height of this mountain is 6200 feet!

Interestingly, and weirdly too, there are some folk tales surrounding the Mount Shasta.

It is believed that a city that was once occupied by humans of extreme knowledge existed. The city is now buried under this mountain.

The area around this mountain near the town was once inhabited by a native tribe called, “Klamath”.

Is there a Lemuria connection with Shasta Bally? A myth says so.

The mountain is open to hiking, and hang gliding, a rare adventure sport.

  1. Waterfalls close by

There are a few waterfalls near the lake. They are all located within 30 minutes of drive from the lake town

The names of the waterfalls:

  • Boulder Creek Falls -13 km
  • Brandy Creek Falls-16 km
  • Crystal Creek Waterfalls-13 km
  • Whiskeytown Falls-19 km

All these falls require you to do a bit of hiking through dense jungle.

These waterfalls are a great natural boon to the simmering Whiskeytown.

One can hire a taxi and cover all the four waterfalls in half a day.

Nearby attractions of Redding include the Klamath Falls, and Crater Lake National Park. However, I would not expect a tourist to the picturesque Lake in Whiskeytown would find the three-hour driving distance away, as nearby to Redding city.

The natural beauty, and attractive places to see near Whiskeytown Lake, and Redding City, demand 4 days of our time.

I really, wonder whether the Southern Californians, who have their own share of terrific places to see, would ever bother to visit the Northern California holiday spots.

For example, the distance to Whiskeytown Lake from:

  • Los Angeles -545 km
  • San Diego-665 km

Yes, I admit, even I would not bother.


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