The 10 Spot: Local Hikes in the NorCal Area
Hidden Falls Regional Park
Wildflowers, gushing waterfalls and crisp air are abundant in our stunning Nor Cal backyard, so get out and get active with our pick of must-do hikes this spring–and don't forget the bug spray!
1 Effie Yeaw Nature Center. This award-winning environmental education center in Carmichael has a 100-acre nature preserve featuring trails that meander along the American River. The nature study trails are easy to walk and fun for the family, offering a glimpse at local inhabitants including deer, coyotes, migratory songbirds and raptors.
2 Sly Park Jenkinson Loop Trail. A moderate, shaded hike, this trail at Sly Park in Pollock Pines features Jenkinson Lake and is doable for the whole family. Dogs and horses are also allowed. The full loop is about eight miles but a shorter trip can be made. Fish, kayak or canoe on the lake or just relax. You can also catch the Park Creek Waterfall that flows down to the lake.
3 Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail/American River Bike Trail. Beginning north of Downtown Sacramento and finishing at Beal’s Point at Folsom Lake, this 32-mile-long trail is one of the longest paved trails in the country. Areas of interest along the way include Discovery Park, the Guy West Bridge and Lake Natoma. There are plenty of places to rest, picnic and enjoy the scenery for bikers, walkers, inline skaters and horseback riders.
4 Hidden Falls Regional Park. This 1,200-acre park is between Auburn and Lincoln, south of Bear River. Boasting approximately 30 miles of trails for hiking, biking and equestrian riding, there are two observation decks along the way and lots of foot waterfalls, creeks, picnic areas, swimming holes and fishing accesses where you’ll be treated to views of the Sacramento Valley and beyond.
5 Stevens Trail. At 7.2 miles, this trail skirts the American River and is rich in mining history—not to mention very scenic. Famed for its waterfalls, abandoned mineshaft and blue butterflies, this trail does get narrow and a tad lonely at times (so bring a friend), but the views are worth it. Parking is on North Canyon Way in Colfax.
6 Bassi Falls. This easy, 1.2-mile trail in El Dorado National Forest is great for hiking. The trip to the waterfall is short and easy, and dogs are allowed. The seasonal waterfall is 110-feet tall and can be heard from the car park. The walk is 20-30 minutes long and begins off Highway 50, twenty miles east of Placerville.
7 Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. Trek the Blue Heron Trails in Elk Grove with your kids as they enjoy wildlife-related activities amidst lush grasslands and vernal pools. The self-guided hike goes through the grasslands to a wildlife-viewing platform overlooking a managed wetland.
8 Sunrise Recreation Area. This escape off Sunrise Boulevard in Rancho Cordova is popular with nature lovers and picnickers alike. Both Upper and Lower Sunrise provide ample points of interests and sights.
9 Homestead-Blue Ridge Trail. Head to Winters and hike the Homestead Trail, then connect to Blue Ridge along the way, which leads up to a creek. You can find great views of Lake Berryessa along the way. Some parts are steep on this 4.4-mile hike, and there isn’t much shade, so bring plenty of sunblock and water. The trailhead starts at Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve.
10 Codfish Creek Falls Discovery Trail. Follow the American River for some great views along this dirt path in Colfax that’s mostly flat and easy. You’ll see flowers and remnants of old dredge mining operations from when the river was mined for gold. On reaching Codfish Creek, follow the trail upstream to Codfish Creek Falls—a 50-foot cascading waterfall. The trailhead is on Ponderosa Way.