Hiking

Child Hiking

Whiskeytown National Recreation Area 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 finally, please note that due to post-Carr Fire environmental hazards and safety concerns, most backcountry trails in the park remain closed. Backpacking (backcountry camping) is not authorized at this time.




Easy Hikes

Trail Name

Distance
(one way)

Status

Trail Highlights

Buck Hollow

1 mile

Open

  • Ranger's Pick! This is Condor Sequoia's favorite trail in the park. He likes the topography and seeing the prescribe-burned landscape.
  • Because a prescribed burn was conducted in this area before the Carr Fire, some pre-Carr Fire vegetation remains.
  • Trail accessible via Mule Town road (high clearance recommended).

Camden Water Ditch

Open

Crystal Creek Falls

0.3 mile

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 mile

Open

  • 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 miles

Open

  • 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 miles

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.
  • Partial shade along trail.

Shasta Divide Nature Trail

0.4 mile loop

Open

  • Trail accessed from end of Visitor Center parking lot.
  • Short loop trail leads down to the lake through dense woodland; this is some of the only area of the park that did not burn during the Carr Fire.
  • Hiking only; no bicycles or horses.

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

Clear Creek Canal

4.5 miles

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 miles

Open

  • 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 mile

Open

  • Ranger's Pick! This is park 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 rock that looks like a face on the gravel bar).
  • Trail can be accessed from Horse Camp or the Whiskeytown Environmental School road bridge. Make it a 1.5 mile loop by walking the 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 mile loop

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 miles

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

Salt Gulch Trail

Closed


Difficult Hikes

Trail Name

Distance
(one way)

Status

Notes

James K. Carr Trail to Whiskeytown Falls

1.7 miles

Open

  • Ranger's Pick! This is park 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.

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

Last updated: January 25, 2021

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 188
Whiskeytown , CA 96095

Phone:

(530) 242-3400

Contact Us