Hat Creek Trout Restoration Area
Thought for today: Philippians 4:8 ..Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things..
Disclaimer: There is no assurance that any resource or activity I've found or described will be as 'accessible' as you might need. Information or links may be out of date. Use the information at your own risk and be sure to check with your health care professional for exercise advice.
Directions: If coming from Redding or Burney, take 299E and drive east past the intersection with Highway 89, and past the Cassel Rd turnoff. The next road (on the south side) is a little hard to spot with a tiny sign. You are looking for 'Hat Creek Powerhouse Number 2 Rd'. It's a paved road. Stick to the paving and stay to the left as the road descends the canyon walls. At the bottom you'll find the Number 2 Powerhouse and Hat Creek. (This is a PG and E Powerhouse)
Imagine my surprise when we re-visited Hat Creek's Powerhouse Number 2 access to Hat Creek in march 2018 and discovered a newly completed wheelchair accessible trail! The California Natural Resources Agency awarded a grant to the organization California Trout Inc., to restore Hat Creek's in-stream and riparian habitat, build a 4-mile streamside trail and provide wheelchair access for the first half mile. As of March 2018, the Trout Restoration Project is mostly completed.
The Hat Creek area has been a very popular spot for fly fishing, but the trout numbers had fallen off as the habitat degraded. This stream renovation project should improve the Hat Creek fishery for decades. I think this is a special protected catch and release fishing area. If you want to catch fish to eat, you'll have to go to Baum Lake or higher up Hat Creek.
Now, I don't actually fish. My interest in this location is photographic - for the creek, landscape and for the new trails. Once you arrive at the paved parking area, you'll find an ADA restroom, with adjacent Handicap parking. I noted that the restroom does have a one to two-inch lift on the platform slab, which may cause some folks accessibility issues. There are no picnic tables that I could see, so bring your own chairs if you plan to have lunch here.
There is a pre-existing paved, barrier-free trail going upstream to a wheelchair accessible fishing platform next to the powerhouse. If the Powerhouse is running, the water there will be turbulent (and noisy). If it's quiet, then you may see a lot of fish in that deep spot. It's a nice view upstream, too.
The newest portions of trail are at the north end of the parking lot. There is a barely passable opening between some big boulders to get to the trail. The trail itself is hard packed gravel and it runs adjacent to a new rail fence along Hat Creek. There are openings in the fence for fishermen to get closer to Hat Creek, but it does not appear that the stream edge is wheelchair friendly.
The packed gravel trail may be difficult rolling for some manual wheelchair users. I recommend wide tires if possible. Rolling walkers with large wheels (like the Walk'n'Chair or Trionic Veloped) will have no difficulties. However, basic rollators with 8 inch wheels would have great difficulty with the trail surface. The path is reasonably level and I had no problem pushing Big Red (my Walk'n'Chair) making my way down to the bend in Hat Creek where there is a nice wood bench. Alas, there is no gravel path to the bench for some peculiar reason.
There is no shade along the trail as far as I went. This area along Hat Creek can become very warm, so do carry water. In late afternoon, the hill shadow may provide some shade. Otherwise, it is a very sunny location. Photographers may be able to take advantage of the 'golden hours'.
It's a nice walk, and definitely worth a stop (and walk). If you have enough energy, you might attempt to go as far as the new footbridge that crosses Hat Creek. From the bench I could see that I'd have to walk up a somewhat steep hill and I was unable to walk that far. According to the trail maps, the footbridge might be more accessible from the new parking area on the other side of Hat Creek from a roadway that turns off Highway 299E. I hope to photograph the footbridge, and the stream view, but it will be at some later date as the gate was closed when we were there.
If you plan on fishing and you use a wheelchair, you should probably use the paved trail fishing platform. I've seen some huge fish there. Remember, though, this area may be catch and release so check first.
Now, that being said, I think the best time of year photographically, is in the fall. You may notice the abundance of hillside oaks as the Powerhouse road descends to Hat Creek. In autumn when the foliage has turned color, this whole hill is simply splendid for photographs. It creates a wall of gold, with lots of opportunities for those nice sun-through-the-leaves shots.
I often combine a visit to this location with a lunch stop at the Hat Creek County Park with is just a short distance further east off Highway 299E. These two locations make for some great photos of different aspects of Hat Creek. With the newly expanded trail system there may be even more opportunities to combine the two locations for the more able-bodied hiker/photographer. If I was more able, I'd probably try to hike from the Number 2 Powerhouse down Hat Creek to the County Park.
*There are lots (and lots, and lots) of places yet to be reviewed for accessibility, and I am unlikely to get to them all. So that others may find some new places, I've compiled a draft list of locations that may be wheelchair accessible. These are POSSIBILITIES, no certainties. Some places may be complete duds. ATTENTION: this is a ROUGH draft list - mostly for my own use, so if you use this draft list, lower your expectations and do your homework! DRAFT SHASTA COUNTY ACCESSIBLE RECREATION LIST