The ‘Other’ Sacramento River Trail

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Reginato River Trail pic 3

Shasta County offers plenty of opportunities for enjoying the great outdoors. For easy day hiking, one of the most popular is the Sacramento River Trail which runs from the east side of Redding, around Turtle Bay, through Caldwell Park and residential neighborhoods.

But there’s another “river trail” you may not know about – and its scenic views are finally becoming visible.

The John F. Reginato River Access Trail lies in the south end of Redding. Located on the west side of the Sacramento River off South Bonneyview behind the River Bend Golf Course (now renamed the River Tasalmi Golf Course), the access road is almost camouflaged by a bower of trees. But make your way to the parking lot of what used to be called the South Bonneyview Boat Launch area and one of Redding’s hidden gems awaits.

Renovated in 2011, this riverfront riparian gem was renamed in honor of the late John F. Reginato, the former general manager of the Shasta Cascade Wonderland Association from 1949 to 1990. Non-motorized water craft can access the river from the boat ramp at the trail head under the Bonnyview Bridge. A launch for motorized boats is located a short distance away.

The system of trails that winds along the Sacramento River runs along a surprisingly narrow sliver of land.

This was a leftover remnant of land previously owned by Fish and Wildlife, said Randy Smith, a retired Redding physician who spearheads open space restoration and clean up efforts. “It never was part of the golf course land,” he said.

With grant funding from the California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways, the trails – which were narrow and primitive, said Smith – were expanded and widened. Much of the land had been majorly overgrown with Himalayan blackberry, Spanish Broom, poison oak and a variety of other invasive species. Choked with underbrush and overgrowth, Smith and his volunteer crew, which has included volunteers from Bethel, have cleared out much of the land, but there’s more to go.

Reginato River Trail - example of dense overgrowth

“It was dangerous, and a huge fire hazard,” said Smith.

This land is riparian savanna, Smith says. When that’s overgrown, it’s still just grass. But, Smith said, the trails had been neglected and huge thickets had grown up here. The Himalayan blackberry grows right up the trees.

Trees can turn into ladders of fire – “ladder fuel” Smith calls it. There is incendiary material waiting to be ignited. When that happens, this sets crown fires, creates spotting, blowing fires all around.

“The growth shouldn’t ever been as high as it is now,” he said.

Removing highly invasive blackberry thickets is a huge effort but Smith and his volunteers have made huge strides. In places where once walls of blackberry stood along with numerous thick stands of non-native trees, hikers and fishermen can now enjoy open vistas and wide trails that take you down to the river. There are also several small ponds around the property.

As for homeless camps, an issue with many of our area’s other open spaces, “(this) area is a little more protected now that the (Redding Rancheria) took over the (River Tasalmi) Golf Course,” Smith said. “They do a good job of keeping people out of here,” he said.

Walking the trails with Smith, one can appreciate the beauty of what’s been uncovered here. Except for several barking dogs fenced behind a house near the trail’s end, quietness reigns. Sunlight flickers through the trees and across the gently winding wide green river.

There are several ways to reach the Reginato River Access trails. Take South Bonnyview Road, turn onto Indianwood Drive at the park entrance. From Interstate 5, take exit No. 675 (Bonnyview/Churn Creek) and turn west onto Bonnyview. Go through the lights at Bechelli, then left onto Indianwood. Or take East Bonneyview to Nicolet, then take that to the end and park.

The trail is approximately three-quarters of a mile, with many smaller side trails. Near the main entrance, there is an ADA fishing platform, fishing and viewing access points and picnic tables. Dogs are welcome on the trails but should be leashed.

This is a place to be enjoyed. Peaceful beauty that nature lovers, bicyclists and fishermen can all appreciate. It’s well worth the drive to discover this little-known Redding gem.

A former long-term resident of Redding who loves its natural wonders, journalist and blogger Debra Atlas is reachable or
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16 Responses

  1. Avatar Grammy says:

    At least with this trail you do not have to see those poor deer caught behind that eight foot fence that Turtle Bay has put up to keep the homeless out at night.  They come in through the entrance and then can not find their way out.  In the Arboretum (where all those great plants are.  A wonderful walk through) they are caught behind the four food fence when they jump it to get away from the people when they are pregnant and then for the whole time after they have the fawns.  Then can not get out because they will NOT leave the fawns behind.  SO SAD and NO one cares.  Call Haven and nothing gets done.  Turtle Bay doesn’t care.  NO ONE CARES!!  And then you start seeing the dead fawns and deer.

    Yep NOT gonna to see an article about that anywhere in Redding because TB is a God in this county.

    As an animal lover I just can not stand to see it but once you know about it….how can so many people ignore all those poor deer?!

    • Avatar Turtle Bay Exploration Park says:

      I want to start by thanking you for your caring so much about animals and these deer in particular. On behalf of Turtle Bay, we most certainly care about these animals and all wildlife; our Mission focuses on appreciation of the world around us. As for these deer, I would like to assure you that this matter has been looked into by us and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife on multiple occasions. The eight-foot fence that surrounds the Arboretum has been there since before it opened in 2005. Since that time, we have had many generations of deer successfully raise their young in the Arboretum. It is a safe area for the deer, as they eat the plants and have shade and water, and are free to wander in and out of the Arboretum. As for the four-foot fence, we have examined that area with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and have made adjustments so that the fawns do not get trapped in there. We have multiple access points that we have dug under the fence that are sufficient for the fawns to come and go at will and we have observed them successfully doing so. You are correct that sometimes deer die, but this is due to the natural cycle of deer populations, rather than the fencing.  According to California Fish and Wildlife, this was a particularly hard year in all of Northern California due to the ongoing drought.
      Again, I would like to thank you for caring so much about these wonderful animals and I hope that you will continue to enjoy them as they thrive in our area. If you have any more questions or concerns we would be more than happy to address them with you.

  2. Avatar Debbie Davis says:



    Thank you so much for casting a light on this little-known trail.  I have enjoyed many new (to me) sections of our  wonderful trail system, and introduced my discoveries to friends.  They are gifts to enjoy.  We live in fantastic surroundings.  These trails provide new vistas and memorable snapshots for our eyes to see and our minds to reflect.  It’s pure joy for our souls.  I shall look forward to a new adventure and more treasure.

  3. Avatar Honey says:

    It amazes me that they never use the brush clearing method in NoCal that you see so often in Southern California. There are shepherds that come in with portable fencing, and truckloads of sheep. Blackberries?Poison Oak? thistles? All a glorious buffet to the sheep.

    The sheep leave the area denuded, and recycled into edible meat. They even till the soil and fertilize, as they go. Natures efficiency. When the brush grows back then the regrowth can easily be trimmed and managed.

    • Avatar EasternCounty says:

      I believe that there are goats available in this area although I don’t know whom to contact to “hire” them.  A neighbor in the InterMountain area had some goats, and another neighbor hired them to nibble on their undergrowth.  The problem was that the goats were so social that every time the neighbors went outside to see the progress, the goats stopped eating and wanted to be petted.

    • Avatar K. Beck says:

      Yes, “The sheep leave the area denuded”. Just guessing here, during most clean ups the native plants are left to re-populate the area, I think. So, goats, being indiscriminate eaters, are not the most beneficial in these instances.

  4. Avatar Barbara Stone says:

    The whole area looks so much better with all the brush cleared away!

  5. Avatar Joanne Lobeski-Snyder says:

    I’ve been on this trail and it’s beautiful.  When I first came to Redding I had little money but I could certainly afford  to hike trails in Redding that later became part of the Sacramento River Trail.  I so appreciate all of the people who work and have worked to make these amazing walking trails accessible for everyone.  Thank you for a great article.

  6. Randall R. Smith Randall R. Smith says:

    Thank you Debra for spending time and writing about and taking pictures of  this forgotten gem.  Current brush piles will be destroyed now that rain makes it safe and more restorative work is coming to this wonderful area so few know.  Comments about goats are interesting.  They are not free!  In fact, volunteers are.  Also, the reply that goats destroy pipe vine, grape vine, green brier and many other natives is totally valid.  Our species brought the Himalayan blackberry, Spanish broom, Ailanthus and other exotics.  We built Shasta Dam and ruined the natural cleaning mechanism of flooding, not to mention Smokey the Bear.  Atonement and stewardship belong to us.

    Hopefully, coverage and understanding like yours will gather more support for these wonderful public areas which are the real prize for living in Redding.

    • Avatar K. Beck says:

      “Current brush piles will be destroyed now that rain makes it safe…” Assuming you are referring to burning the brush. I really hate to see all this burning of brush. It is not a good environmental practice. And, for the most part is not necessary. Can the city pick up the brush and take it to the city compost area? Cold composting is extremely easy to do.

  7. Randall R. Smith Randall R. Smith says:

    When you visit the site, you will see the volume of woody material to be hand trucked almost a mile to the pavement would take as long and as many people as the labor involved in harvesting the Spanish broom.  Community Creek Clean Up 2015 and Friday’s effort to liberate Riverfront Park below the Sundial Bridge used eight industrial chippers to manufacture almost 200 cubic yards of chips.  If there was access for a chipper, we would use it.  We are not insensitive to your concerns, but without a budget and working alone, fire is the only answer besides doing nothing or leaving garage size piles of litter which become incendiary bombs by July for nearby homes.

    • Avatar K. Beck says:

      Thanks for your explanation. It makes sense! However, I think the city should come out and collect all of it and take it away. I know, dream on!

  8. Avatar Russell K. Hunt says:

    The City will soon sell the 5 acres at the Henderson Open Space to Dignity Health. It’s a done deal made in the powder room. But the selling price should not be cash but rather a trade. Dignity should purchase the riparian forest directly south of the Bonneyview Boat Ramp and give it to the City. That would tie in nicely with this trail.

    • Avatar K. Beck says:

      So is Dignity also buying the old Raley’s shopping center? Are they planning to put in a big medical center there? I didn’t know anything about that. Otherwise, that Henderson open space is not connected to anything else, right? I have driven behind the old Raley’s center but was always a bit afraid of getting out of the car due to the people hanging around back there. Too secluded for me being alone at the time. Is there some other entrance to the Henderson Open Space? Guess we should all go see it before it is too late!

      Your suggested trade seems good to me. Have you been attending the City Council meetings, or have you sent letters to the Mayor and City Council members?