Fishermen’s Trail Loop Guide – Nature and Wildlife Galore


Quick Reference

Suitable for: hiking, biking, horseback, no motorized vehicles. 1st half single track, 2nd half paved.
Amenities: drinking water and restrooms at Sacramento River Trail parking lot (end of loop)
Dogs: on leash
Distance:  2.5 mile loop
Elevation: (approximate): Low point– 560 ft., Highest Point—800 ft.
Difficulty: Easy
Best Attributes: views of reservoir, mountains
Hiking Time:  45-60 minutes
Biking Time: 20-40 minutes


The trailhead is at the west end of Keswick dam on Keswick Dam Road. There is a parking area across the road from the trailhead.


Trail Description

The name is a bit of a misnomer. While there are several access points to the water line, anglers seldom use this trail, generally preferring the shallower, faster water closer to the Shasta Dam discharge. But as if to question this judgement, other fishers—double crested cormorants—frequently perch atop the debris boom before the dam in the wintertime looking for prey.


The trail starts out at the west end of Keswick Dam where in the summer cliff swallows swoop and nest under pipes and concrete overhangs of the dam. The trail follows the water line for three quarters of a mile as it winds around several inlets through typical northern California riparian thicket: willow, Himalayan blackberry, toyon, oleander, poison oak, coffee berry and other brushy plants. Keep your eyes out for “brushy” birds: kinglets, golden crowned sparrows, bushtits, titmice, towhees and others that flit in the dense foliage.


On the side of the trail in the first half mile are stretches of concrete and stone edging or terracing. A trailside rusty cable suggests past mining activity and it is tempting to think that these artifacts mark a riverside trail in mining days–until one realizes that the water line was 100 feet lower before the dam was built in 1950. The actual explanation is that the now-defunct Young Adult Conservation Corps built the trail in about 1980 and probably added the stonework as an embellishment. The trail is now maintained by the BLM.

At about 1 mile, the trail divides. One leg skirts the shoreline; the other begins to climb. The two legs rejoin in several hundred yards and ascend from the shoreline toward the west. In just a few hundred feet increase in elevation, the vegetation changes from riparian to chaparral, with manzanita, toyon, buck brush, and blue oaks predominating.

At about 1.25 miles, after ascending about 150 feet, the Fishermen’s Trail intersects the paved Lower Sacramento Rail Trail. Proceeding left back toward the dam, note the increasing frequency of invasive trees of heaven (ailanthus altissima). These unwanted imports from China are nastily robust and fecund, to the detriment of native tree species.


A couple hundred yards further the trail crests at about 800 feet and heads downhill. Shortly past the water tower a short paved road leads to two roofed picnic pavilions, a good place to sit and admire the river. A sign at the intersection marks the top of “Heart Rate Hill” with suggestions how to monitor the cardiac fitness of those athletic souls hiking or riding uphill.


The trail descends to the parking lot at Keswick Dam Road. Be careful hiking the road back to the dam parking area as the shoulders are narrow to non-existent.


The Trails and Bikeways Council of Greater Redding is a non-profit organization that advocates, plans, builds and maintains trails, bikeways and open spaces in the region.

Marion Schmitz is a retired engineer and a member of the Trails and Bikeways Council of Greater Redding.  The TBC is a non-profit that advocates, plans, builds and maintains trails, bikeways and open spaces in the region.  Iplans to issue addtitional trail guides from time to time. 
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9 Responses

  1. Randall R Smith Randall R Smith says:

    Thank you Marion for this notice and concise description.  Keswick Lake is one of our area’s almost forgotten treasures.  Time was when BLM’s  battle against non native invasive plant species set the tone for stewardship of public land in this vicinity.  Francis Berg’s retirement party work session at the upstream OHV site is gratefully recalled. Beyond that, Steven Anderson risked his career to enable an old Rotarian to acquire permitted herbicide to advance this fight.  Regretfully, process now dominates the Regional Office so much so that product is suffering.  TBC could play a role in reversing this lamentable situation.  Doing nothing results in the horrible condition of Rock Creek seen across from the Keswick Trailhead parking lot where Spanish broom and Oleander completely dominate the lower watershed.

  2. Randall R Smith Randall R Smith says:

    As a footnote, it’s worth noting that the federal government installed at least four non native plants to atone for damage from the “Smoke Wars”.  Oleander, Spanish broom, black locust and Ailanthus were deliberately planted as they were thought to be the best and fastest cover available.  Remember, starlings were brought to combat the gypsy moth and Arundo came to Shasta County for erosion control.  “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.”

  3. Thank you so much for this – looks like a great spot for  a run.

    • Avatar Tom Buckner says:

      It is a fantastic trail for a run!  Plus after the loop, if you need more, the FB trail across the Ribbon Bridge, and more side trails off the Sac trail, offer great additional mileage if needed!

  4. Avatar Debbie says:

    I love this spotlight on our beautiful trail system.  This is a scenic hike for everyone:  easy on seniors and children. Thank you for sharing this treasure.

  5. Avatar Ron says:

    Great article. I would to see more of these written up.

  6. Avatar Kathryn McDonald says:

    I really enjoyed this piece.  It is well written and inspiring.