Featuring a paved trail perfect for cyclists of all levels, the Sacramento River National Recreation Trail offers three bridges including the famous Sundial Bridge, mountain and river views, and a ton of wildlife.
The Sacramento River National Recreation Trail is a total of 11 miles, but it's up to you how much of the trail you want to complete. There are also several other trails that connect to the Sacramento River Trail if you want to explore further.
Destination Distance From Downtown
2 of 5 diamonds
The north side of the loop is exposed and has a fair amount of hills while the south side is relatively flat and shaded.
Time To Complete
This trail is open year round. The trail is paved so you don't have to worry about mud in the winter/spring. A good portion of the trail is not shaded so be sure to wear sunscreen and a hat in the warmer weather.
Located in the Northern California town of Redding, the Sacramento River National Recreation Trail is one of the city’s most-used trails. The majority of the trail is fairly level with a hilly section on the north side. A decent portion of the trail is shaded making this an enjoyable trail for cyclists, joggers, and walkers. After your ride, you can check out Turtle Bay Exploration Park featuring a museum, botanical gardens, and a café.
What Makes It Great
There are several access points along the trail, but most favor parking at the Turtle Bay Exploration Park and starting the loop from there. The trail begins with a ride across the Sundial Bridge designed by the world renowned Spanish architect and engineer, Santiago Calatrava. At the end of the bridge, the trail continues left past the botanical gardens. There are several trails that link to the Sacramento River Trail so follow the route with the yellow striped divider to stay on the right path.
About 3 miles in, the trail will pause in a quiet residential neighborhood. After turning left and riding for about 2 minutes, the trail begins again at the Harlan Trailhead. With rolling, winding hills, this section of the trail is the most challenging. After about 2 miles you will reach Ribbon Bridge, a 418-foot pedestrian stress bridge. The trail continues left for a relaxing level ride with panoramic river views.
After about 2 miles the trail continues left onto historic Diestelhorst Bridge built in 1915. After crossing the bridge, the path continues left onto the Sacramento River Trail and turns left back towards Turtle Bay Exploration Park.
Who is Going to Love It
While on the Sacramento River National Recreation Trail, you will see all walks of life from families with little ones enjoying a bike ride to elderly couples taking a stroll. With its wide, paved path and ample shade, this trail is doable for just about everyone.
The coolest thing about the Sacramento River Trail is the connecting trail system. You could continue your adventure all the way to the historic town of Shasta or up the winding, scenic trail to the Shasta Dam. The options are abundant.
As with any awesome destination, there will be all kinds of people present. Transients do frequent this trail so be sure to apply the same safety precautions you would with any trail activity and remain aware.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
From downtown Redding, head south on Market Street toward Shasta Street. Market Street turns left and becomes CA-44 E/Tehama St (signs for I-5). Take exit 1 for Park Marina Dr toward Auditorium Dr/Convention Center. Turn right onto Park Marina Dr. Turn right onto Sundial Bridge Drive. Turn right to stay on Sundial Bridge Drive. Arrive at parking area.