The Best Walking Trails In & Around the Sacramento Area
If the post-holiday crash has got you down, it’s time to get outside and get some fresh air and exercise. Although January is likely to see some rain, there are some dry spells forecasted. Take advantage of these breaks in the weather to explore some of the best scenic walking trails the Sacramento area has to offer. After all, Sacramento is known for its access to outdoor recreation, and while the mountains may be snowed in for the time being, there are plenty of other spots here in the flatlands that you can explore. From urban landscapes to wildlife viewing, there are walks for every taste. So, gather up the whole family, wait for a break in the rain (or grab an umbrella), and go check out our favorite spots for walks in and around the greater Sacramento area.
River Walk Trail | West Sacramento
This levee-top trail stretches along the Sacramento River from I-80 to the I Street Bridge, with great views of the Sacramento skyline and Old Sac. At one end is River Walk Park, where you can take a load off and have a picnic, and at the other is Drake’s at the Barn, a family-friendly brewery that overlooks the river.
Riverfront Promenade | Sacramento
Just over the river from the River Walk Trail is the Riverfront Promenade, a walkway that connects Old Sacramento with the Sacramento River Bike Trail. Views of the water are unbeatable, as are views of the Tower Bridge, which looms above.
American River Parkway | Sacramento
The American River Parkway stretches from Old Sacramento to Folsom. While the entire trail offers scenic views, some sections are better for walkers than others. The section near the Guy West Bridge in East Sacramento has views of the river from the bridge, while the section near the Sunrise Recreation Area has views of the Fair Oaks bluffs. At Ancil Hoffman Park, there are spur trails down to the water, and the adjacent Effie Yeaw Nature Center has interpretive trails for kids. Further east, the trail passes Lake Natoma, and you can watch the jumping salmon below the trail near the Nimbus Fish Hatchery.
Miners Ravine Trail | Roseville
This multi-use trail runs from downtown Roseville to Sierra College Blvd., passing by open fields, creekside oak groves and Native American grinding stones. The trail is more than 8 miles long, but you can do as little or as much as you like.
Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, | Elk Grove
Miles of walking trails circle these protected wetlands, which are home to thousands of migratory birds. Winter is the best time to visit, as birds from as far away as Alaska come to roost. Keep your eyes peeled for cranes, sandpipers, plovers, geese and ducks.
Hidden Falls Regional Park | Auburn
This popular park has more than 30 miles of trails winding their way through open grasslands, up rugged hillsides and across rushing creeks. There are also observation decks for viewing two waterfalls within the park, and sweeping views of the Sacramento Valley and Sutter Buttes.
Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge | Willows
This expansive refuge is a bit further out — about 70 miles north of Sacramento, just south of the city of Willows — but it’s worth a mention. The refuge supports more than 250 species of birds that flock to these wetlands in the winter. Naturally, bird watching is a popular activity, and it’s likely to spot ducks, geese, raptors (including bald eagles and peregrine falcons) and shorebirds. There’s an auto tour, visitor center and a designated hunting area as well.
El Dorado Trail | Placerville, Diamond Springs & Camino
This extensive multi-use trail runs more than 12 miles from Diamond Springs, through Placerville and all the way to Camino with many access points along the way. The scenery ranges from wide open countryside to forested mountains, and there are several creeks and bridges to keep it interesting.
U.C. Davis Arboretum Trail | Davis
Three interconnected loop trails make up the U.C. Davis Arboretum Trail, which showcases trees and plants found in habitats around the world. You can wander along Putah Creek and explore the Mediterranean or South American collections, see California native plants and relax in the flower garden.
Cosumnes River Preserve | Galt
This nature preserve has more than 50,000 acres of protected land. There are several trails to choose from, depending on the season. They wind through lush marshes, vernal pools and riparian habitat and there are raised boardwalks to keep your feet dry. The preserve is home to 250 species of birds, including cranes and hawks.