Whiskeytown National Recreation Area

Shasta-Trinity, California

Located within Shasta-Trinity National Forest — two separate parks until 1954, when their boundaries blurred — Whiskeytown National Recreation Area is known for its startling contrasts: from piercing granite peaks and cliffs, to mountainous backcountry and its most renowned feature, Whiskeytown Lake, a human-made reservoir.

The reservoir, which covers 3200 acres and offers 36 miles of pristine shoreline provides endless opportunities for hydrophiles of all kinds. Water-oriented activities on the lake include swimming, scuba diving, water skiing, boating and fishing. But the park isn't for water fans alone. Nearby Shasta Bally Mountain (elevation 6,209 feet) can be climbed, or, for the faint-at-heart, driven (4WD). Opportunities for picnicking, backcountry hiking, biking, hunting, and horseback riding are available. But a visit to the area — named Whiskeytown after a team of donkeys lost their footing on a local trail and spilled a load of whiskey into a nearby ravine — would be incomplete without a visit to some of the remnants of California's Gold Rush days.

For the most fun in Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, try these GORP picks:

Bike the Shasta Bally
The area has several bike paths (ranging in skill-level from novice to expert) including the Clikapudi Trail in Jones Valley, the Mt. Shasta Mine Loop on Paige Bar Road, and the Shasta Bally loop. The ride to Shasta Bally begins with a challenging ascent that demands advanced or intermediate skills from its riders. A mile and a half of dirt road, followed by 5.6 miles of 4-WD terrain takes you to the peak of Shasta Bally Mountain, at 6,200 feet. Bikers will find the start of the ride at the junction of Shasta Bally Road and JFK Memorial Drive, off Highway 299.

Camp next to the Lake
Campsites in Whiskeytown are abundant, but few offer sites right along the water's edge. For waterside accommodations head to Oak Bottom Campground, which features several lakefront walk-in campsites. The area is hilly, and the campsite's parking lots are far from the sites but the views are worth the extra effort required to rest your bones for a night.

Paddle Whiskeytown Lake
With over three thousand acres of water and endless inlets and among wooded hillsides, you can't go wrong with a little canoeing or kayaking on Whiskeytown Lake. Official launch points can be found on both the north ands south side of the lake.

Contact Info
800-365-CAMP (2267) for camping reservations
Visitor Information - 530 246-1225

Whiskeytown-Shasta-Trinity National Recreation Area
P.O. Box 188
Whiskeytown, CA 96095
Main Office Telephone: (530)241-6584
Visitor Information: (530)246-1225

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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