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Beat the heat with these adventures along California lakes, rivers and waterfalls

Northern California has always been rich in rivers, lakes and waterfalls. But this video makes clear just how wet and wild the summer of 2017 will be.

With so much snow yet to melt from last winter’s storms, the region’s shorelines, hiking trails, bridges, rafts and houseboats are busier than they have been in years. For this video, I visited seven lively, watery spots in mid-June, all north of Sacramento. I fit them all into five days — about 600 miles of driving. So could you.

1. Crossing Sundial Bridge

Santiago Calatrava’s Sundial Bridge, completed in 2004, is one of Redding’s leading landmarks, with the Sacramento River rushing beneath it and a museum, arboretum and riverside trail in the same park.

Sundial Bridge, Redding, Calif.
Sundial Bridge, Redding, Calif. (Christopher Reynolds/Los Angeles Times)

2. Facing the roar of Burney Falls

Burney Falls, about an hour northeast of Redding, is among the state’s most beautiful cascades, 129 feet tall.

Burney Falls, northeast of Redding, Calif.
Burney Falls, northeast of Redding, Calif. (Christopher Reynolds/Los Angeles Times)

3. Hiking alongside McCloud Falls

McCloud Falls, a series of three cascades along a single trail, isn’t far from Burney Falls. Its second section, Middle Fall, is a roaring spectacle.

Hiker at Northern California's McCloud Falls, Middle Fall.
Hiker at Northern California's McCloud Falls, Middle Fall. (Christopher Reynolds/Los Angeles Times)

4. Dangling above the Sacramento River in Castle Crags State Park

Most hikers go to Castle Crags for the challenging trail up to the park’s signature granite spires (and the views of Mt. Shasta). But the Sacramento River rolls through the park too, and there’s a nice, shaded suspension bridge over the water. Unlike the Crags Trail, this is a short, flat, shaded stroll.

A suspension bridge crosses the Sacramento River at Castle Crags State Park, Calif.
A suspension bridge crosses the Sacramento River at Castle Crags State Park, Calif. (Christopher Reynolds/Los Angeles Times)

5. Houseboating Lake Shasta

Lake Shasta, a man-made entity, has twice as much shoreline as Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties combined. For decades, it has been a beloved houseboating destination, and many families return every summer to the Bridge Bay and Holiday Harbor areas, among others. Lately, the water is higher than it’s been in years.

Holiday Harbor, Lake Shasta, Calif.
Holiday Harbor, Lake Shasta, Calif. (Christopher Reynolds/Los Angeles Times)

6. Inspecting Shasta Dam

Yes, this is the concrete engineering wonder that makes Lake Shasta possible. Visitors can stroll and bike along the top of the dam — a great spot at sunset, whether you’re looking at the relatively dry scene downstream or the broad lake upstream. Dam workers offer free tours too.

A family strolls atop Shasta Dam, north of Redding, Calif.
A family strolls atop Shasta Dam, north of Redding, Calif. (Christopher Reynolds/Los Angeles Times)

7. Rafting the South Fork of the American River

The South Fork of the American River isn’t just where the Gold Rush began in 1848, it’s where rafting begins for hundreds of visitors every year. That stretch of the river is not only scenic, but it’s also endowed with several Class II and Class III rapids challenging enough to thrill newbies and anybody who hasn’t boarded a raft in a few years.

Guide Kyle Brazil navigates the South Fork of the American River near Coloma, Calif..
Guide Kyle Brazil navigates the South Fork of the American River near Coloma, Calif.. (Christopher Reynolds/Los Angeles Times)

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EDITION: California | U.S. & World
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