After the monsoon-like weather of Friday, April 25th I couldn't wait to get outside and enjoy the sunshine that had re-emerged on Saturday. Friends had told me about a mountain biking spot that was closer than Tahoe-area trails but still provided the opportunity to see some trails other than our local gems. I got an early start and after a quick stop at the Farmer's Market for some snacks, I was on my way. After a 1.5 hour drive I arrived at Swasey Recreation Area.

"Swasey" (sway-see) is operated by the Bureau of Land Management and is just west of Redding, off of 299. The area borders Whiskeytown National Recreation Area and it is possible to connect to the Whiskeytown trails from Swasey. I began with 2 laps on the Wintu Loop. This loop is between 2.5 and 3 miles depending on where you park and begins with about 200 feet of climbing. It then plateaus off and has fun downhills interspersed with small climbs to keep you warm. You then get to wrap it up with a fun sustained downhill ride. The trail is not technical but there are a few rocky spots, if you're used to riding in Upper Bidwell you probably won't even notice them!

Next I moved on to the Meiner's Loop trailhead and did a slightly larger loop, combing a few of the trails on the west side of Swasey. This was a very fun ride for me, it had some nice climbing mixed with fun downhill. It was also still green from the spring rains and had creeks flowing through beautiful meadows.

Creek at Swasey
My riding partners enjoy the creek.

Another thing I enjoyed about the Swasey is that my furry friends (pictured above) are allowed there. Riders should be on the lookout for dogs enjoying the trails, and dog owners should ensure that dogs are under control and should also clean up after them.

Some other notes about Swasey:

  • The trails were generally well marked and in good shape
  • Bring lots of water, especially in the summer
  • Pit toilets are available
  • Camping is available at Whiskeytown National Recreation Area which is just a bit further up 299
  • This would make a great trail running location as well
  • There are races that occur here, you can check the Blazing Saddles Redding Facebook Page to see if they'll be using the trails before you go

Type: Mountain Bike

Location: Swasey Recreation Area

Duration: Day trip or overnight

Drive time from campus: 1.5 hours

Approx cost: $30 in gas money

What you need: A vehicle that can transport a bike, a mountain bike, bike helmet, lots of water

Experience level: Riders should feel comfortable on lower and middle trails in Upper Bidwell. Moderate.