The California & Oregon Railroad built a temporary supply center here in 1872 and named it Redding after B.B. Redding, its railroad land agent. The settlement took hold and in 1874 the California State Legislature changed the town's name to Reading, in recognition of Pierson B. Reading, an early gold miner and rancher in the region. But the new "Reading" could not displace the original in the minds of the fledgling residents and when the town incorporated in 1887 it was "Redding."
Redding has aggressively developed recreational trails, including two that have received a National Recreation Trail designation. In September 2000 the city hosted the biannual National Trails Symposium and the National Trails Association has recently moved its headquarters to Redding.
The feature trail to hike with your dog in Redding is the Sacramento River Trail, a 12-foot wide paved path that rolls along both sides of California's largest river, the lively Sacramento. You will encounter a steep uphill every now and then in the course of the nearly 10 miles of trail but overall this is easy canine hiking. The main loop runs from the Diestlehorst Bridge to the Ribbon Bridge and covers about six miles.
Also along the Sacramento River, running north out of town, is the Sacramento River Rail Trail. When the Southern Pacific Railroad opened this route in 1888 it was billed as "the road of a thousand wonders." A 500-foot long tunnel keeps the gravel trail moving on the gentle 1% grade of the old rail line for its entire 9-mile route. The cold waters of the adjoining Sacramento River can be swift so dogs without wetsuits should be careful.
The Sacramento River Trail is an ideal hike for studying bridge architecture. Classical arch bridges transport vehicular traffic across the Sacramento and the Diestlehorst Bridge is a prototypical 19th century pier-and-girder bridge. The Ribbon Bridge is the first of its kind in the nation - a 13-foot wide, 420-foot long concrete stess-ribbon structure. The Sundial Bridge at Turtle Bay is the first American project for the celebrated Spanish bridge architect, Santiago Calatrava. The focal point of his design is a 218-foot curved tower on the north bank of the river that doubles as support for the bridge's suspension cables and as the world's largest sundial. The bridge sports a glass decking that enhances the natural light and enables unobstructed views of the mountains at the horizon and the salmon at play below.
There is more challenging hiking fare on the west side of the Sacramento River at the Westside/Mary Lake Trails where elevations range from 750 feet to 1250 feet. The Westside Trails, Redding's only system of improved dirt trails, grind up invigorating slopes to sweeping views of the city. The cruise around Mary Lake is an easy stroll for a dog of less than one mile on a paved surface with plenty of places for a doggie dip along the way. There are dog scoop dispensers, trashcans and water fountains along the path.
Nearby is the Blue Gravel Trail, a paved 2.4-mile out-and-back affair that features a modest 200-foot elevation gain. This is where the City of Redding once operated a gold mine in Blue Gravel canyon, the only town in California ever to do so. Dogs are welcome here - the drinking fountain near the center of the trail features a dog bowl. Your dog will also enjoy the trees and bushes that provide a bit of shade during triple-digit summers. Across town, the privately developed Lema Ranch Trail System does not allow dogs.
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