It then descends onto the banks of the
reservoir and Shasta Dam.
West of the bridge I ride the
Arboretum Loop, circling 200 acres of
savanna oak and wetlands. Swallowtail
butterflies appear, wild grapevines wrap
around trees, and trail users are treated
to a wide variety of wildflowers, mostly
purplish lupine and yellow buttercup.
Several hundred feet west of the
gardens I join the main river trail again
and meet up with Jeff and Anne Thomas.
Local bike advocates, they run Shasta
Living Streets, an organization that hosts
open-street events and works to build
support for safe bikeways on city streets.
The trails are opening up people’s minds
to that,” explains Anne Thomas. “People
get out on the trails and realize how
much they enjoy it. Later they think,
I just have a short errand to do and I’d
like to do it on my bike.’”
In addition to drawing 750,000
visitors every year, the trails now are the
route of choice for many bicycle com-
muters. That picturesque ride to the office
is one reason people looking to escape
high rent and stressful lifestyles in the Bay
Area or Southern California are relocating
to Redding.
If you had asked me if I wanted to
move to Redding 10 years ago, I’d say,
No way. Forget about it,’” says John
Eliot, who moved with his family from
San Diego to the Redding area in 2007.
As a young professional, I like being out
in nature, and it’s what attracted me to
Soon we pass a seasonally erected
diversion dam that extends across the riv-
er at Caldwell Park, home of the Redding
Aquatic Center. It contains two fish lad-
ders to help push salmon and other fish
upstream as they make their final journey
home. When this spectacle happens, visi-
tors can take a peek underwater by step-
ping down to a glass viewing area just off
the trail.
Several hundred feet up the trail, a
stunning piece of railroad history comes
into view: a 70-year-old rail trestle built
when a 26-mile chunk of the Central
Pacific Railroad was diverted for construc-
tion of Shasta Dam. The truss bridge, with
its rusty triangular components below the
deck, is still used by Union Pacific and
Amtrak, and stretches almost a mile over
the river.
The Shasta Route
The railroad used to wind through the
canyon as part of the Southern Pacific
Railroad’s California-Oregon line, which
was marketed in the early 1900s as “The
Road to a Thousand Wonders.” The seg-
ment from Gerber, Calif., 40 miles south
of Redding, to Ashland, Ore., was known
as the Shasta Route. At the time, there was
an abundance of resorts, the most popular
being the world-renowned Shasta Springs,
at the base of Mount Shasta, where guests
got to sip its famous sparkling water.
Just beyond the trestle we approach
Lake Redding Bridge and the Diestelhorst
Bridge. Built in 1915, the Diestelhorst
was the first highway bridge to cross the
river. In the 1990s, with the popularity
of the river trail growing, the Redding
City Council decided to make it a biking
and walking bridge, providing a critical
link to the rail-trail on the south side of
the river. Riders crossing the bridge are
overwhelmed by panoramic views of the
mountains and the river canyon leading
At this juncture, trail users can choose
to continue west on the north side. We
make our way back from the Diestelhorst
Bridge on the south side of the river, fol-
lowing the trail as it winds along original
railbed. As we pedal up the trail, the river
changes color. No longer turbulent, it
turns from blue to greenish, reflecting
the rich green habitat along the banks.
In the waters one might spot river otters,
muskrats and elusive beaver hauling mud
and sticks to build dams in the tributaries.
Trail regulars occasionally see a black bear
or a mountain lion. Rattlesnakes emerge
in the warmer seasons.
Farther up the trail, a suspension
bridge takes trail users to the southern
side of the river, forming a loop popular
with locals that leads back to the Sundial
Bridge. This is the spectacular Sacramento
River Trail Bridge, a 420-foot-long, 13-foot-
wide, stress-ribbon concrete structure.
I ride onto the deck and take in the view.
At Keswick Dam Road I reach the base
of what is aptly called Heart Rate Hill.
The trail system is credited with a boom in
biking and walking amongst locals, and a
renewed appreciation of Redding’s waterfront
and its historic features, including the
Diestelhorst Bridge.