Sun’s out, skies are blue, mornings are frosty, winds and temperatures are mild. Must mean it’s time for winter hiking in Redding!
I’ve been wanting to explore the BLM Mule Ridge Trails; up to this point I had only hiked a portion of the Princess Ditch Trail. The available maps do not have elevations or mileage, therefore my goal was to hike and map a loop including Princess Ditch, Cosmos and Mule Ridge beginning from the Oak Knoll Trailhead. But you know that old saying about “best laid plans.”
NOTE: My apologies in advance for the photo quality as these are from my phone (forgot my camera).
With all the recent rains, creeks were gurgling and the grasses were greening. The first 3.25 miles of the Princess Ditch trail are in excellent shape, the surface is nearly rock-free and very level making for great beginner trail running and a healthy option for those recovering from foot injuries such as plantar fasciitis.
Section A to B: Oak Knoll Trailhead to Cosmos Way Intersection
I hadn’t planned on doing the 1.25 mile loop (marked B to C on map) but Shasta Bally was teasing me with possibilities of a better view. But alas the mountain remained photo shy as I trekked this bit more rocky and muddy section.
After lunching in a field of green, it was time to explore the Cosmos Way Trail. It’s a good bun burner climb to this picnic table view of Shasta Bally (sporting just a smidge of snow), Mule Mountain (to the right in the below photo), Kanaka Peak and South Fork Mountain.
As I continued the loop from Cosmos Way to Mule Ridge, the trail was dappled with sunlight and littered with oak leaves.
The red bark of the Manzanita trees provided a nice contrast to the barren black oaks.
My plan for the day quickly went awry when about two-thirds of the way down the Mule Ridge trail, I was drawn to a small ridge (near F on map). Finding a light use trail traversing the ridge north was too irresistible to bypass. After a bit of wondering I found some nice views to the east of Mt Lassen.
My curiosity was peaked with this odd formation off to the east. I later learned it’s two lots for sale. What an ugly scar!
As I continued to be drawn to the north, I found views of Mt Shasta.
And views of the unusually low Whiskeytown Lake
I finally decided to turn around a bit after I reached a power station.
There were multiple knolls like this along the ridge that kept drawing me up only to find another and another and another.
Eventually I could see the Mule Ridge Trail, but it was way way way down.
Happiness is being back on the super highway
So yes, I recorded my trip, but wanderlust got in the way and I didn’t really accomplish my objective of capturing mileage and elevations for the loop, so I guess a future trip is in order.
- These trails are multi-use so be prepared for encounters with mountain bikes and horses. Dogs are allowed off leash but should be under control.