Hiking in Sacramento
Be sure to pack your hiking boots and binoculars when you visit Sacramento. The area has numerous trails you’ll want to explore.
The American River Parkway is a 32-mile trail that goes up the river and through the city. You may not be up for hiking the entire route but you’ll enjoy whichever section you choose. You’ll hike over footbridges and along the scenic American River where you’ll see everything from rapids to smooth ponds and sandbars. This trail is shared by mountain bikers and equestrians and dogs are welcome. You’ll see wildlife and both shore birds and song birds in some of the more remote locations. This gorgeous parkway stretches from Folsom Lake to Old Sacramento. Many people arrange to leave a car parked at their chosen destination so they don’t have to backtrack. This river-hugging trail is extremely popular with bicycle enthusiasts.
Take a walk through the wetlands when you hike the Consumnes River Preserve. The Consumnes River is on one side of the trail and the marshes and sloughs flank the other side. Wooden bridges cross over the mushiest portions of the trail and conditions can be muddy after heavy rains so it is advisable to call ahead for trail conditions. You’ll see stunning oak groves, wild wetlands, a lovely river, and have the chance to see over 200 species of birds that stop here or make the preserve their home.
Just outside of Placerville in the El Dorado National Forest is an easy, one hour hike that takes you up to a breathtaking waterfall, Bassi Falls. This 120 foot waterfall is spectacular in the wet winter months and spring time but reduces to a trickle during the drier months.
The Old Salmon Falls Loop in Folsom is an interesting hike. The waterfall is actually extinct due to the construction of the Folsom Dam and the old Mormon gold mining town of Salmon Falls is now under the waters of Folsom Lake. You’ll start at the Old Salmon Assembly area where you’ll find the Monte Vista Trailhead and hook up with Brown’s Ravine Trail. As you wind your way along the American River you’ll see beautiful scenery, a “new” pine forest that was planted in the 1970’s and the site of the extinct waterfall.
One of the most important stops on the Pacific Flyway is the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge which is an hour and a half north of Sacramento. This huge area is a resting and feeding area for about half of all migratory birds on the Flyway and is a must stop for avid bird-watchers. In fact, 44% of these birds spend the winter here with three million ducks and 750,000 geese calling the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge their winter home. The refuge has a visitor center and numerous trails of varying lengths that take you through wetland and riparian habitats. The 2/3 mile Llano Seco Unit trail includes a multi-level viewing platform at its halfway point. In addition, several auto tours let you drive along the marshlands and streams.
These are just a few of the many scenic hiking trails in and around the Sacramento area. For even more great hikes during your stay here remember that National forests, the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and Lake Tahoe are all within a relatively short driving distance.