Hiking

Child Hiking

Whiskeytown is primarily known for lake-based recreation, but the park also contains dozens of miles of trails for hiking, trail running, mountain biking, and horseback riding. A rugged canyon, waterfalls, historic mining and reclamation features, and post-fire ecology can all be viewed by trail here.

Please be advised that triple digit heat is common between Memorial Day and Labor Day. If you plan on getting out on trails during this time, hike in the early morning. No matter what time of year you hike, always bring and drink lots of water and let someone know where you are going.

Also note that due to ongoing post-Carr Fire environmental and safety hazards, most backcountry trails in the park remain closed. Backpacking (backcountry camping) also remains temporarily closed. In time, the entirety of Whiskeytown's trail system will reopen - and it will be better than ever.

Finally, please be advised that the post-Carr Fire environment has increased the risks associated with outdoor recreation. While exploring the park, be aware of downed or falling trees, abandoned mine features (do not enter them), and eroding areas.




Easy Hikes

Trail Name

Distance
(miles one way)

Status

Trail Highlights

Camden Water Ditch

1.1

Open

  • Mostly level trail looping through the "frontcountry" and backfield of Tower House Historic District. Side-trip to Levi Tower Grave.
  • Learn more about Levi Tower and Charles Camden.

Crystal Creek Falls

0.3

Open

  • Short, flat, paved trail to Crystal Creek Falls cascade.
  • In summer, the natural, shaded pool at the base of the cascade is a popular spot for wading and swimming.

Crystal Creek Water Ditch

1.0

Open

  • No bicycles or horses allowed.
  • Mostly level trail paralleling historic water ditch constructed by Charles Camden. Look for historic features along the trail.
  • Trail open to hiking only; no bicycles or horses.

Guardian Rock Vista

0.25

Open

  • No horses allowed.
  • Trailhead located at Horse Camp on Paige Bar Road.
  • Paved, mostly level trail to Guardian Rock Vista; view of rugged Clear Creek Canyon from the vista.

Oak Bottom Water Ditch

2.75

Open

  • Mostly level trail paralleling the northwestern shore of Whiskeytown Lake.
  • Some good birding and fishing opportunities on quiet coves.
  • Trail mostly travels on top of a historic water ditch dating from the California Gold Rush era.

Moderate Hikes

Trail Name

Distance
(one way)

Status

Notes

Boulder Creek
(via South Shore Drive)

Closed

Boulder Creek
(via Mill Creek Road)

Closed

Brandy Creek Falls

Closed

Brandy Creek

Closed

Buck Hollow

1.0

Open

  • Ranger's Pick: this is ranger Condor Sequoia's favorite trail!
  • Trail begins and ends on Mule Town Road. Combine the trail with the roadway for a tw-mile loop.
  • Travels through open woodland, mixed forest (oak-pine) landscape that has been periodically prescribe burned for several years.

Clear Creek Canal

4.5

Open

  • Partially shaded, mostly flat trail paralleling historic water ditch dating from the California Gold Rush era; look for old mining features including the foundation of a large stamp mill.
  • Access from Mount Shasta Mine Loop Trailhead.
  • Popular trail for mountain biking and horseback riding; trail connects with Swasey Recreation Area trails.

Clear Creek Vista

Closed

Davis Gulch

3.3

Open

  • No horses or bicycles allowed.
  • Abundant wildflowers in late winter and spring and lots of shade.
  • Trail can be accessed from Kennedy Memorial Drive just past Whiskeytown Dam or from Brandy Creek Beach parking lot.
  • Trail parallels the southeast shore of Whiskeytown Lake.

Guardian Rock

1.0

Open

  • No horses allowed.
  • Ranger's Pick! This is ranger Bartholomew Mombasa's favorite hike in the park. He loves the solitude, the ruggedness of the land, and the sound of "mountain water" along the trail.
  • First 0.25 miles is easy and paved to the overlook. After the overlook, the trail becomes narrow and rocky and drops down to Guardian Rock gravel bar on Clear Creek (the term "Guardian Rock" refers to a small rock that looks like a face coming out of the gravel bar).
  • Trailhead at Horse Camp. Make it a 1.5 mile loop by walking back on Paige Bar Road.
  • At northern end of the trail, gravel has been "injected" into the creek to restore salmon habitat.

Logging Camp

Closed

Mount Shasta Mine Loop

3.1

Open

  • Loop trail that travels through historic mining area active from the 1850s to 1930s. Look for evidence of past mining activity including horizontal and vertical mine shafts, building foundations, and tailing piles.
  • Trail popular with mountain bikers and horseback riders.
  • Trailhead located on Paige Bar Road about one-mile below Whiskeytown Dam.

Peltier

Closed

Princess Ditch

1.9

Open

  • Trail follows former water ditch and connects to Swasey Recreation Area trails.
  • Accessed via Mule Town Road (high clearance required).
  • Trail is popular with mountain bikers and horseback riders.

Rich Gulch Trail

Closed

Shasta Divide Nature Loop

0.4

Open

  • No bycycles or horses allowed.
  • This short trail drops down below the Visitor Center onto Whiskeytown Lake.
  • This was the only natural area of the park that did not burn during the Carr Fire.

Difficult Hikes

Trail Name

Distance
(one way)

Status

Notes

James K. Carr Trail to Whiskeytown Falls

1.7

Open

  • Ranger's Pick! This is ranger Aspen Cloud's favorite trail. She likes the challenge of the steep sections and the waterfall reward at the end.
  • At 220 feet, Whiskeytown Falls is the longest cascade in the park. At base of waterfall, be sure and walk up the rock staircase to the upper viewing platform.
  • The trail is steep in spots and mostly follows old logging roads.
  • There is lots of shade along the trail. The Carr Fire only lightly affected the area.
  • The last 1/4 mile of trail is in a box canyon with a microclimate colder than the surrounding.
  • No bicycles or horses allowed.

Kanaka Cut Off

Closed

Kanaka Peak

Closed

Mill Creek
(from James K. Carr Trail)

Closed

Mill Creek
(from Tower House
Historic District)

Closed

Papoose Pass

Closed

South Fork Mountain Lookout Road

7.0

Open

  • This gravel road is not open to vehicles (telecommunication contractors and in-season hunters are okay).

  • The gravel roadway starts at the Shasta Divide by the Visitor Center and slowly but steadily climbs 2,000 feet to the top of South Fork Mountain Lookout.

  • Expansive views of Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, Trinity Alps, Mount Shasta, and Lassen Peak from top.

upper Crystal Creek Road
(James K. Carr Trailhead to Coggins Park)

7.0

Open

  • This narrow, winding, dirt roadway is not open to vehicular traffic due to erosion caused by storms after the Carr Fire.

  • Roadway climbs gradually but steadily 2,000 feet up through mixed forest landscape.

Last updated: March 8, 2021

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 188
Whiskeytown , CA 96095

Phone:

(530) 242-3400

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