Explore the most popular birding trails near French Gulch with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

trail running
1 month ago

Ran this route with my dogs off leash. It was a but hot and boring the first mile, then the creeks started showing up, and my dogs and I loved it. (Shade too) We started at noon it was 90*. Note- we almost took the other way at Carr Powerhouse which is only a mile, but the only water is once you hit the falls. I am glad I got to see all the beautiful green folage.

Biking Review: HORRIBLY marked and poorly maintained trails. Easy to very moderate with gentle grades. Have a lot of patience to figure out where you are riding. I agree about the tick warning.
If you are concerned about legal presence you must buy a ticket--which is NOT available at the park. I got lucky and was the only vehicle there and did not get a violation ticket. Check online for info. This link may help. https://www.nps.gov/whis/planyourvisit/upload/Mill%20Creek%20Keeper%20FINAL.pdf

Nice hike. I really wanted to come back at night to see the bats come out of the mine! :)

Spectacular views!! I loved the feeling up top. The hike up kicked my butt. :) 3 hours up & 2 down. Worth it!

2 months ago

I would give this hike a 5 out of 5 if it wasn’t for the all of the poison oak and downed trees on the trail during my hike with my dogs (June 2018). If hiking with dogs be on the look out for poison oak on and around the trail! I would also suggest not straying from the trail where it becomes more prevalent! I was worried about snakes but the only snake we saw was on the drive out. The S. Shore Drive trailhead is the longer hike. Much of the hike is uphill and the creeks were only difficult to cross if you didn’t want to get wet. The falls are gorgeous but easy to miss if you’re not looking for signs. They are located on the left side of the trail before the big bridge and go up past the small railed trail to get to the falls! So worth it! The hike is about 3.5 to 4 miles up and then 3.5 to 4 miles back to the car! Ended up being about 8 miles total which is rough if you’re not expecting it! Also, 4 day’s post hike and no poison oak reaction! Happy hiking!!

Be prepared for a lot of poison oak everywhere! Pretty views of the lake and still many wildflowers are about.

Interesting quick side trip to see some historical buildings. Spent maybe 20-30 minutes walking around. Watch for ticks and mosquitoes!

3 months ago

Great workout from start to finish. The trail inclines along an old 4-wheel road. In the summer, the trail can be quite dusty. Have hiked this 3 times and each time I'm amazed by the views of Mt. Shasta and the Trinity Alps. If you're hiking on a warm day, bring plenty of water. At the top, there are a few little short trails that you can explore to find a perch for lunch/snacks.

4 months ago

Wow. Super hard trail! 11 miles so I guess 5.5 miles of straight uphill nonstop! One foot in front of the other. Lots of beautiful views along the way and the peak has spectacular views and rock formations! You can do it!!!

4 months ago

We followed the signs instead of the app, which took us to the 4x4 access road that leads to the trailhead. Only the road had a tree across it so the gate was shut so we just parked and hiked up the road to the trailhead. Let me tell you, that road is long and steep. I imagine that’s probably what the Shasta Bally road is like, except longer. Once you get to the trailhead, the rest of the hike is pretty level to the falls. The falls are SPECTACULAR!
There’s another trailhead further down the road that skips the 4x4 road and that side of the trail and approaches the falls from another direction. Not sure how that trail is.

4 months ago

First Off: Yes, this is a challenging trail. 5.6 miles and 4,500ft gain is no cake walk. I would recommend this hike to someone who is is in moderate shape.

While portions of the trail are fully exposed, (for example the last mile and the whole summit), there is intermittent tree coverage along the trail. It was nice to take a break in the shade of the trees when I stopped for a breather. The trail does get hot fairly quickly so carry lots of water- I had thee liters- though, there is one creek off the trail within the first mile for filtering. I would suggest hitting the trail early too and in late spring/early summer or fall to enjoy this trail during milder temperatures as Redding summers can get really hot!

The views are spectacular and worth every drop of sweat.

Trail Assessment:

The first 1.6 miles is the “easiest” part of the trail. There are plenty of flat portions to help you catch your breath as the inclines work up your heart rate. There are some deep ruts so watch your footing. At about 1 mile up you will see the turn off to the Shasta Trinity Divide Trail that takes you to Papoose Pass.

Miles 1.6 to 3.3 are, in my honest opinion, are the hardest parts of the trail. If you can make it up to mile 3.3 where there is a nice cozy bench and lookout, you can finish the trail. Why so hard? This portion has the steepest inclines and you will really notice when you go down. The flatter portions are few and far between and I found myself stopping more on these inclines than others farther up the trail. One consolation is that of the views! Around mile 1.6 you start to see open views of Whiskeytown Lake and the surrounding hills of Swasey Recreational Area, but wait! They get better!

From mile 3.3 to 4.6, I felt as the trail got easier. Though you are still gaining elevation quickly, the inclines are not as steep and the condition of the trail vastly improves. Where once was deep ruts gives way to a nice packed gravel dirt trail. I thought this section was quite pleasant and the views picked up substantially too! I saw many views of Mt. Shasta, the Trinity Alps, Shasta Lake and Mt. Lassen!

Miles 4.6-5.6....Oh boy! The last mile! Ha! One mile from the top the trail opens up beautifully and you see almost a 360 view! The radio tower is in sight and you could almost reach out and touch it.....but don’t be fooled! The last mile looks deceptively easy. Maybe it was due to my legs feeling like jello or the elevation, but I felt like I slogged up the last five switchbacks to the top! I was partially distracted by the amazing views too. Lol. Needless to say, the last mile is the final challenge of the hike.

Mile 5.6: the beautiful summit! The trail to the right is closed off due to the radio tower so just turn left and explore the fun area up top! I took solitude in a nice outcropping of rocks facing west and had a couple of trail snacks. I would say that Shasta Bally boasts the best views of Whiskeytown and the surrounding areas. I would do it again just to see them and get a killer workout. Don’t be deterred by the challenge, you’ll be glad you took on this amazing mountain!

I reached the summit in just over 2.5 hours and meandered my way down taking about 1:45 minutes to really take in the amazing views and snap some shots I missed on the way up. I was not disappointed.

Side Note: I hiked up Shasta Bally today 4-3-18. About 1.5 miles from the top I encountered snow and had to hike up half a mile in it till it cleared. I managed without snow gear but wish I would have brought an extra pair of socks! There was also snow on the summit too. :)

Awesome! We started at the trailhead by the sign. The first third of the trail was kinda blah, goes right next to a paved road on several sections. But once you hit the old mine (fenced off and apparently filled in) the scenery gets beautiful and you follow several different creeks and hit a few waterfalls (at least in March). The last third has you gaining elevation and skirting around some peaks, and winding back down to the parking lot. We ran into one other hiker and 2 mountain bikers during our couple hours there.

Glorious 3 hour round trip hike - 3 stream crossings, and some old settlements along the way too. Not too strenuous and a great payoff at the end. I’d defiantly do it again.

Very shaded and nice along the lake.

Great trail. Slow moving creek. Had the trail to myself.

Beautiful trail- felt a bit strenuous, but I’m also 8months pregnant. Beautiful creek, mines, and vista views!

It’s a relatively flat route, really nice views of the lake and surrounding hills!

An awesome trail with some cool views and interesting history. We walked the trail backwards (clockwise) with our 2 dogs. A steep climb to start off and gradual elevation changes until the end. The old gold mine close to halfway through provided a nice place to have a snack and read about its history.

trail running
10 months ago

Recommended by a family we met hiking yesterday. What a fun challenging three miles for me and Murphy and Billy.
No water this time of year (end of summer) so that's a bummer for the dogs but I'm sure it will be great when there's some water running through. Lots of rocks on the Orfino Gulch section but nothing dangerous, just wear good shoes. #tenlegstosunset

Monday, July 31, 2017

The road up was a little scary but the hike itself to the falls was flat and easy. We had the falls to ourselves and it was beautiful. There is a nice little pool to swim in if you like cold water. There is also a smaller pool a little ways down that was perfect for my toddler to splash in.

Nice quick trail run.

Lovely trails, with plenty of blackberries at the trail head and along the way to snack on. It was middle of summer, so no waterfalls or creek flows for me, but beautiful trees and views of Shasta Bally and the other mountains. At one point you can see clear down towards Igo and Gas Point!

Thursday, July 06, 2017

July 5, 2017
This trail is extremely hard. The trail is not really a trail at all- it's a dirt service road for vehicles to get to and from the cell tower station. The road is a very steep incline the entire 6 miles up with minimal shade. It feels like you're on a stair master the entire way. No views until around 4 miles so not only is it brutal, but there isn't much to look at. Great workout, but I don't see how anyone who isn't pretty fit could do it, nor want to. I wouldn't even do it again. It took me 3 hours to do the 6 miles up with only stopping to catch my breath. Going down is obviously easier but you can't run since it's so steep and sandy. It took me 1.3 hours to get down. I will say though, that the view from the top is amazing. If you go to the left once at the top (cell tower is on right) you can adventure through some paths leading to beautiful views and some rock formations. If you have 5-7 hours to spare and want a brutal workout, this hike is for you. If you just want the view, get a 4wd and drive up.

on Shasta Bally Trail

off road driving
Thursday, June 29, 2017

I'm reviewing this as a 4wd trail. I didn't hike it. Trail took about 45 minutes once you leave sheeps camp. You will probably need 4wd but could possibly do it with a 2wd. It's quite steel and has some places you may high center if not used to off-roading. Great views and a fun little challenge!

trail running
Wednesday, June 28, 2017

June 2017
Nice trail along the lake with spots to jump in if desired. Great trail to run.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

June 2017
Well maintained trail. Nice mixture of shade and sun, with a few moderate sections. View of the lake from a far distance at the end only. No waterfalls. No summits. A nice quick workout. I walked the 3 miles stopping occasionally to explore in 1.5 hours.

Really neat place to stretch your legs. Lots of untrusting things to see. Very easy walk.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Really hard hike if you only do moderate hikes. My advice is hike Whiskyown Falls once and if you can hike it to the top pretty easy, you're ready for Bally. If it's hard, you're going to have a very exhausting hike up Shasta Bally. With that being said, it's a very steep hike but very worth the effort - beautiful and lots of shade. It's a rewarding experience that you can be proud of!

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Beautiful falls at this time (late April). The trail is basically a service road so it's a very easy hike from the trail head. The road up to the trail head is very steep. I would recommend a 4x4.

trail running
Sunday, April 02, 2017

The section that follows close to the road has lots of pooled up water, but I would think that will dry up very soon. Also there is a good bit of poison oak surrounding the trail, so keep an eye out. Other than that it is a nice quick trail to run!

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