and now CEO of Turtle Bay Exploration
Park. “People who come into our com-
munity are amazed, simply amazed, that
a community our size has this many and
this quality of trails.”
Redding’s name comes from Benjamin
Barnard Redding, a politician and land
agent for the Central Pacific Railroad.
The company built the western transcon-
tinental railroad, which came through
here, and christened the town in his hon-
or when it was founded in 1887. Redding
is home to one of the most photographed
peaks in the world, the snow-capped
wonder known as Mount Shasta. To the
east is the gem of the cascades, Mount
Lassen, a dome volcano that last erupted
in 1915. To the west is Whiskeytown
National Recreation Area, a popular
mountain biking area. These stunning
vistas of the Cascade and Trinity moun-
tains surround Redding (population
the gateway to the Sacramento
River National Recreation Trail.
Redding Revival
For folks passing through on Interstate
Redding has been considered mostly
a stopover to fill up the tank and grab a
bite to eat. Until recently the town was
built with its back to the river,” says
Terry Hanson, a semiretired Redding
community projects manager who, along
with a small group of dedicated trail
advocates, is largely responsible for get-
ting the trails funded and built. “No one
enjoyed the river or used the river very
often because it was not integrated into
the fabric of the community.”
The Upper Sacramento River is still
recovering from years of hydraulic min-
ing and excavations. Now, Redding’s
increasingly popular trails, combined
with restoration efforts, have brought
renewed appreciation for the town’s river-
front splendor. People come to enjoy the
trails on foot, bike, skates, and horseback.
There are a total of 226 miles of paved,
dirt and single-track trails, with spurs that
connect to almost every neighborhood,
providing arteries to work, play and take
in this bounty of natural treasures.
Some people, a few, still haven’t fig-
ured it out, but I think it’s transformed
the town,” says Steve Anderson, former
head of the federal Bureau of Land
Management (BLM) in Redding, and a
stalwart trail advocate. “Houseboating on
Lake Shasta was always the thing to do in
the summertime. Now what you’re seeing
is, ‘Wait a minute, this is a great place to
be in the spring, this is a great place to be
in the fall, and this is a great place to be
in the winter.’”
As a result, figures from Healthy
Shasta, a local partnership formed to
promote healthy and active living among
north state residents,” show that more
people in Redding are biking and walk-
ing. A survey found that 62 percent of
residents bike and walk for recreation
more often since the critical Dana Drive
to downtown trail extension was built
along Highway 44 in 2010.
Redding has also seen a reduction in
vehicle miles traveled in recent years,
and bicycle counts are up on city streets,
all spurred by a greater interest in the
The idea to create what is now the
Sacramento River Rail Trail had been
talked about for decades. A rail-trail
study was completed in 1990 with sup-
port from the McConnell Foundation,
which has funded a lot of trail building
here. The study sat on the shelf until
That’s when trailblazing advocate
Bill Kuntz arrived in Redding. He came
from the BLM’s Susanville office, where
he had worked on the Bizz Johnson Trail.
At the time, most of the ballast and rock
that held the Redding corridor’s rails and
ties in place had been removed. What
remained was mostly a rocky undulated
path littered with garbage and washed out
in some places.
All that has changed. The mostly flat
mile Sacramento River Trail begins at
the Sundial Bridge and follows the path
of an old mining road on the north banks
to Keswick Dam. On the south side of
the river, the trail runs from the his-
toric Diestelhorst Bridge before turning
into the Sacramento River Rail Trail at
Keswick Reservoir. The rail-trail then pro-
ceeds for 10.7 miles on original railbed,
except for a two-mile stretch that winds
through rolling hills above the reservoir.
The Sundial Bridge—
a local icon and focal
point of Redding’s
trail system. At the
heart of this system,
the Sacramento River
Trail has encouraged
an increase in physical
activity and fitness in
the area.