The South Fork American River Trail comprises 25 miles of trails, spanning from Sacramento to Coloma, with paths for all levels of hiking. No matter which trail you decide to take, the scenery is spectacular. South Fork offers rushing river views, tumbling hills, forests, and chaparral canyons so bringing your camera is an absolute must. These hiking trails account for almost a fifth of California’s native plant life. As an attempt to leave these plants undisturbed, most paths were paved nice and wide. South Fork American River Trail offers the perfect hiking experience for groups who share the love of the outdoors.
You can even lace up your kids’ hiking boots if you’re heading to The Quarry Trail in Auburn, about a half-hour outside of Sacramento. This trail is easily walkable and is smooth enough for strollers, as well. There’s even some great history to be shared along this route, as it was once used for limestone mining. Hikers can take a look into the caves that were once filled with working miners and walk along the same railroad route that was used to transport the mined limestone. Make sure to bring the cash ($10) for parking in the lot.
The iconic Sacramento River is a wonderful place for hiking. The paths along the river give way to wonderful rolling hills, deer, songbirds, salmon, and even a bald eagle or two. Pack a picnic lunch to enjoy at one of the many scenic areas. In the warmer months, hikers can even wave to the water-lovers that wade down the Sacramento River.
This entirely beautiful trail, completing after 32 miles, is accessible through multiple parks throughout Sacramento. Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail is incredibly popular amongst Sacramento hikers. All along the trails, happy outdoor-lovers can be seen. This is another great hike for both expert hikers and beginners who are just breaking in their new hiking boots. The trails are paved and run along the lovely American River Parkway.
Another favorite trail located just outside Sacramento goes through the Auburn State Recreational Area. The trails here run from the recreation area to the base of the wondrous Auburn Dam, through the North and Middle Forks of the American River. It can make you work up quite a sweat, as the path’s steepness varies along the way. Either way, the hike will be absolutely breathtaking as you catch glimpses of the wildlife scattered across the 40 acres of land that the trails runs through. What’s even better is that the hiking path is open all year-round which is perfect for those devoted hikers that are ready to go, come rain or shine.
The Stone Lakes National Wildlife Rufuge’s relatively new Blue Heron Trail loops through the protected and lovely wetlands of Elk Grove. The surrounding lake and marshes are a great place to observe the wildlife native to the land. Be ready to see shore birds, hawks, cranes, and waterfowl as the area is the natural migration place of many bird species. The trail itself is wonderfully smooth and short, only about a mile long. It’s an ideal trail for strollers and wheelchairs.