Eight Hiking Trails Around Sacramento Area


For directions to the different trails, contact the Parks Department for information and maps.

  1. Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail: is a popular trail, paved, and follows the banks of the American River between Discovery Park to the Nimbus Dame in the Folsom Lake State Park Area.  The paving is consistent and can be used with strollers, bikes, and children around the Discover Park area, but not the whole 32 miles. There are small areas where you can spread a blanket and have a picnic or snack break for the kids.  This trail is popular with joggers and families.  Off to the side in many areas, participants can leave the paved path and go off-trail on several of the dirt hiking trails which run alongside. It is 32 miles long but can be as long as you want it to be. The grade is nearly flat, and not a challenging hike for adults. There are several scenic areas along the trail, especially along with the Folsom Recreation Areas. It follows close to the river with large shady areas, but some sunny regions also. You will see river rafters, hikers, and bikers who share the trail. There are public parks available along the trail with restroom facilities.
  • The Quarry Trail: is located near Auburn, California (40 miles from Sacramento), which has a scenic landscape traveling along both the North and Middle Fork of the American River.  It is one of the actual loop trails beginning and ending at the same place along highway 49 near Auburn. The 3.2 mile part of the path from Cool, California to Auburn, is for all skill levels and is excellent for the family wanting to get out of the house and into nature. This trail has over 100miles of trails that include areas to white-water raft, go camping, or pan for gold.  The most natural path for older kids and adults is the Quarry Trail that leads to Hawver Cave that is 1.3 miles long through a beautiful scenic part of the corridor.  It is of moderate grade. There are several sections, so make sure that you get on the right trail for your family. Some areas are dirt and suitable for mountain bikers, but not for younger children and do have some challenging areas for kids age seven and above.  But the scenery is worth the trip. There is one area called the Murderer’s Bar, where you can hear the rapids from the river.  There are remains of old quarries along the line.  There are many offshoots from the main trail that lead to other areas worth seeing, including the No-Hands Bridge. This bridge was the first concrete bridge in North America designed by John B. Leonard.
  • Darrington Trail: The Darrington Trail (also known at the Salmon Falls hike trail) is a single dirt track that runs along the shore of the American River and connects to the Peninsula Campground. It is approximately a 45-minute drive from Sacramento. It is a more challenging trail with going up an elevation of 800 feet.  It is challenging at the beginning, including cliff edges, steep trails, and rocky areas. Be sure to take adequate hydration, as there are no areas set up for water, or first aid. It is a trail known for both hikers and mountain bikers, so share the path and watch out for each other.
  • River Walk Trail: if you are interested in watching wildlife habitats or bird watching, then the River Walk Trail would be the right one for you.  It is a 3.5-mile trail that follows the levees and the riparian habitat.  It is a popular trail for families and nature lovers.  Bring your binoculars, hydration, and wildlife resource books to share the kids. This trail is a family sharing trail. This trail is also a popular trail for artists.
  • Cronan Ranch: regional trails Park: Near the gold rush community at Coloma, California is the Cronan Ranch Regional Trails Park approximately an hour’s drive from Sacramento. It is 12 miles of trails in the Nevada foothills going through the woodlands of Cronan Ranch along the South Fork of the American River.  It is worth going during different times of the year as the landscape changes.  It travels through woodlands through the forests to sunny trails across the rolling grasslands.
  • Independence trail: (South Yuba River State Park) (90 miles north of Sacramento) in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the South Yuba River State Park offers family fun hiking through gold panning areas and mining sites. Located near Nevada City, off of Highway 49, this trek provides scenery of old retired wooden flumes that remind you that this was a gold mining area. There is both an East and west trail.  The West trail has a wood plank area that spans over two miles above the South Yuba River with spectacular views of the canon. There are side trails, including the Point Defiance Loop, and the Buttermilk Bend trail. In the same area is the oldest covered bridge in the American West.
  • Western States Trail:  This trail was originally an old Indian trail followed by the gold miners between Nevada and California during the gold rush of the 1850s. It runs over a hundred miles from Squaw Valley to the Auburn State Recreation area. This trail is the site of the most challenging ultra-marathons in the world. However, you do not need to be a long-distant runner to enjoy the path.  It crosses areas that cars cannot reach and gives the site to the scenery that is often breathtaking. Be sure to bring your camera.  The most convenient access is near the No-Hands Bridge.
  • Clementine Trail:  Forty miles northeast of Sacramento is the Clementine trail. It is a two-mile trail leading to Lake Clementine.  One the path, the elevation climb is less than 500 feet.  It follows the banks of the North Fork of the American River and has a fantastic view of the Forest Hill Bridge.  This bridge is one of the tallest bridges in California and is a popular photographed area. Following the trail for two miles, you can reach the paved lake Clementine road where less than a quarter of a mile, you can see the Lake Clementine Dam.  It has a mist-shrouded waterfall and the perfect place to rest and eat before heading back to the trail head. Again, this trail is not for small children. I would recommend over ten years of age and used to hiking.

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