Water Sports Abound
John Muir may have famously written “the mountains are calling and I must go,” but honestly, the lakes and rivers in the North State are worth putting the mountains on call waiting.
From Lake Shasta – the gem of Northern California – to Whiskeytown National Recreation Area and the lake with the same name to the seemingly unflappable Sacramento River and beyond, the North State offers a multitude of water activities and adventures.
The byproduct of the engineering marvel of the Shasta Dam (worth a tour any time of the year), Lake Shasta is a 30,000-acre reservoir that boasts 365 miles of shoreline as the Sacramento, McCloud and Pit rivers join Squaw Creek to fill the roughly 4.5 million acre-feet of water held back by the dam. The keystone of the Central Valley Project to bring irrigation water to the agriculture fields in the central and southern California, Lake Shasta is the state’s third-largest body of water.
Locals and tourists alike take advantage of its abundance of activities. From fishing to boating to houseboating and jet skiing, Lake Shasta offers something for everyone. After a hard day’s work – or just a day playing hooky – there’s nothing better than wetting a line and fishing for bass, trout or crappie. Anglers also flock to Lake Shasta as tournaments draw professionals and amateurs hoping to land the big one.
For those inclined to go fast on the water, the vastness of Lake Shasta offers an unmatched playground. Whether you want to water ski, wakeboard, skurf or tube, there is plenty of space to roam and let the boat pick up speed. The water is best in summer, when the North State’s summer temperatures peak, but hearty souls have been known to ride in early spring and into the fall.
Speaking of summer, a relaxing, crowd-free alternative vacation is a week houseboating. For rent at most of the lake’s many marinas, a houseboat adventure allows you time to explore, unwind and relax amid nature. And if you get the itch, you can fish or water ski while living out on the lake as well.
Whiskeytown, meanwhile, offers a little more tranquil pace for those so inclined. Motorized boats and sailboats are allowed, but personal watercraft are not, meaning the surface is suitable for taking a kayak or stand-up paddleboard trip across the water. The lake has two beaches – Brandy Creek and Oak Bottom – that sunbathers and swimmers alike flock to as a means of cooling off in the summer heat. Maybe the highlight of the summer months on Whiskeytown is the ranger-led, full moon paddles. But those excursions fill up fast.
In Siskiyou County, Lake Siskiyou offers an abundance of water-based activities throughout the summer and is the ideal spot to sit for the annual Fourth of July fireworks. In Trinity County, Lewiston Lake is a fishing haven and also offers campers a chance to unwind near the snow-fed waters.
If running water is more your style, the Sacramento River that slices through the North State offers plenty of activities – from guided fishing trips to kayak rentals and floats that meander downstream and make you feel like you’ve entered a different world.
And if chasing waterfalls is not just a TLC song, there are a ton of cascades – and the accompanying swimming holes – to seek out. From Burney Falls to Potem Falls and Mossbrae Falls and Root Creek Falls to Whiskeytown Falls, there are opportunities north, south, east and west of Redding and beyond.