Sacramento is known as the “City of Trees” for good reason and if you’re looking to get in touch with nature, there are plenty of opportunities to do so.
Many of the trails within the city limits are elevation-free, making them family-friendly. You’ll be able to start knocking trails off your bucket list in no time!
You’ll be able to find trails with historic significance, expansive views of the water, and even a waterfall or two! Regardless of your skill level and knowledge of the great outdoors, you’re sure to find something to suit your abilities. Whether you’re looking for a paved path or a more rugged experience, the Sacramento area has you covered.
Below, you’ll find popular trails ranging from easy to moderate-difficult that will allow you to reconnect to nature and breathe in the fresh air. As always, make sure to call ahead to ensure the trails are open — especially during wildfire season.
Top 10 Hiking Trails in Sacramento to Explore
1. Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail
If you want to tackle a longer trail, the Jedediah Smith Memorial point-to-point trail is a great option that is popular among bicyclists, hikers, and trail runners.
This trail winds through the city and has plenty of benches and picnic tables. The main trail is paved, so hiking shoes aren’t a necessity.
This urban recreational trail is pleasant throughout the year and offers views of the river. The route takes you from Discovery Park to Beal’s Point.
There are a few rolling hills along the route but overall it stays fairly flat and the elevation gain doesn’t feel strenuous. There are many trail entrances from roadways, neighborhoods, and parks within the city.
While the main trail is paved and smooth, you can explore the steeper dirt spurs along the path. Many sections of the trail are exposed to direct sunlight with very little shade.
Distance: 32.3 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 918 Feet
2. River Bend Park Riverside Loop
The River Bend Park Loop will take you an estimated 1-1.5 hours to complete and is just one section of this expansive 444-acre park.
The terrain along the loop is considered easy for those with strollers, as it has paved portions that are easily accessible.
If you’re interested in birdwatching or fishing, this hike will provide you with the opportunity for both. For those looking for solitude, be aware that there is heavy foot traffic along the trail. Weekday mornings are generally quieter.
After a hike around the loop, you can set up at a picnic table and enjoy lunch with a beautiful view of the river.
Reviews mention seeing wildlife at the park, such as squirrels, ducks, butterflies, and even coyotes! Keeping your dog leashed and close by is required.
Distance: 3.9 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 68 Feet
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3. Quarry Trail
Located inside Auburn State Recreational Area, this popular path is just one segment of the 100 miles of multi-use trails inside the park.
The Quarry Trail is one of the more accessible trails within the massive recreation area. It takes hikers through one of the most beautiful corridors.
Hikers will pass by the remnants of an old quarry that lines the route. You’ll also be able to hear the roar of the rapids from the nearby American River and may even see people out on a white-water rafting excursion. Gold panning is another popular activity in the area.
Generally considered a moderate to challenging trail, you can either commit to the entire 9+ mile loop or you can go out and back halfway to cut down your distance.
Dogs are welcome but must stay leashed. Reviews mention that ticks can be an issue and your dog should be thoroughly checked after the hike.
Difficulty: Moderately Challenging
Distance: 9.5 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 1,532 Feet
4. Guy West Bridge to Watt Avenue Bridge Loop
This multi-use trail is open year-round and is beautiful regardless of the season. On average, you can expect it to take you an hour and a half to walk the entire lap. You’ll often see people fishing and road biking around the loop.
If you’d like to bring your dog along, they must remain leashed. If you want to get off the paved trail, there is a separate dirt trail that is closer to the river.
There is very little shade, so packing water and sun protection is suggested. You’re likely to see heavy foot traffic on this loop during peak periods.
Since the loop spans over five miles, there is plenty of room to spread out. There is very little elevation gain and the pathway is paved, making it accessible by wheelchair and stroller.
Distance: 5.1 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 160 Feet
5. Wild Rose and Valley Oak Loop
Located in the North Natomas Regional Park, this loop is considered an easy one that may take around an hour to complete. Ideally suited for foot traffic, such as trail running and hiking, you’re unlikely to encounter many people on bike.
While you’re likely to come across fellow nature enthusiasts, you can still find a sense of natural solitude along this route.
The paths are well-marked and easy to follow, so there’s very little chance of accidentally becoming lost. Hikers are encouraged to keep their dogs leashed for everyone’s safety.
The trail is well-maintained by the park staff and there are scenic spots for photo opportunities. With very little shade to speak of, hikers should pack plenty of water and a wide-brimmed hat before setting off during a hot summer day.
Distance: 3.6 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 26 Feet
6. Gateway Oaks Trail
If you’re looking for a quick and easy hike, you can explore the Gateway Oaks Trail within an hour. The beginning of this trail is located inside Natomas Oak Park and it will take you to Peregrine Park.
There are several accessible parking spots at the trailhead. The parking lot is fully paved and the majority of the trail itself is paved as well. Wheelchairs and strollers won’t be difficult to manage on the pathway.
Reviews mention that the trail doesn’t get overly crowded, even on the weekends. Some sections are partially shaded, making the trail a great option for hot days. Packing extra water is still recommended to ensure proper hydration.
T&T Tip: With many bird sightings in the area, packing a pair of binoculars is a great idea.
Distance: 3.5 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 29 Feet
7. Cosumnes River Walk Trail
This trail is inside of the Cosumnes River Preserve and features a 3-mile loop that offers plenty of diverse vegetation and wildlife for hikers to view.
With over 250 species of birds native to the area, you’ll want to pack the binoculars to get a closer look. Reviews mention seeing pelicans, owls, river otters, and even foxes!
The wildlife preserve is expansive and provides 50,000 acres of protected habitat and has over 10 miles of trails that include gravel pathways and wooden boardwalks over the wetlands. Due to the swampy nature of the area, hikers will want to pack plenty of bug spray.
You’ll want to call ahead before you head out, as the trail tends to flood during the winter months. Only 30 minutes from the city, this is a beautifully serene environment that provides an up-close look at a wide range of fish, vegetation, and even wildflower fields during the springtime. Dogs are not allowed, even if they stay leashed.
Distance: 3.2 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 26 Feet
8. Western States Pioneer Express Recreational Trail
Another trail located inside Auburn State Recreational Area is this 8.6-mile out-and-back route that allows hikers to enjoy stunning views of the Middle Fork American River Canyon.
If you’re up for chasing waterfalls, you’ll be able to spot one in the middle of this trail. Hikers will go by the historic Mountain Quarries Railroad Bridge, an arched cement bridge that was built in 1912.
It should be noted that the first half of this trail is downhill, so hikers will have to face the climb back uphill on their way to the parking lot. Beware of poison oak along the trail.
On the weekends, this trail is popular with many outdoor enthusiasts such as trail runners and horseback riders. Water and snacks are crucial for keeping your energy up throughout the semi-strenuous hike. Due to sections of rocky terrain, this trail isn’t ideal for dogs.
Distance: 8.6 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 1,259 Feet
9. Homestead to Blue Ridge Loop
This difficult hiking trail is a half-hour out of the city and is a great challenge for those wanting a workout. On average, you can expect to dedicate 3 hours to hike the trail. Starting early is recommended to beat the heat.
Hikers can enjoy stunning views of Sacramento Valley and Lake Berryessa. Reviews mention the Sierras being visible on clear days. There are sections of the trail that become relatively steep, so pack your trekking poles.
There is very little shade along the trail, so pack a brimmed hat and sunscreen. There is some scrambling along the ridge and hikers should wear sturdy boots. Dogs are not allowed on the trail, so bring a friend if you don’t want to go solo.
Distance: 4.5 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 1,410 Feet
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10. Darrington Trail
This trail is an out-and-back route that can take 6-7 hours to complete. You’re likely to encounter other hikers and mountain bikers along the trail. If you bring your dog, there are designated off-leash areas for them to explore.
Some segments of the trail have partial shade, which can be a welcome reprieve from the hot sun. Hikers can expect beautiful views of Folsom Lake and the El Dorado Hills. The terrain becomes rugged in some sections, so hiking boots are a must.
You may see rabbits and deer, along with snakes. Stay alert and bring plenty of hydration for this strenuous hike and turn back early if you find yourself running low on energy. During the spring, the ground is abundant with wildflowers and offers a colorful contrast.
Difficulty: Moderately Challenging
Distance: 15.7 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 1,374 Feet