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Where To Go Hiking In Sacramento


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Minette Wulf



Sacramento, the capital city of California, is not only famous for its rich history and vibrant culture but also for its stunning natural landscapes and hiking trails. With its mild climate and proximity to various outdoor recreational areas, Sacramento offers a plethora of options for adventure enthusiasts and nature lovers. Whether you are a seasoned hiker or just starting out, you’ll find numerous trails in and around Sacramento that cater to all skill levels.


From picturesque river walks to scenic mountain vistas, there is something for everyone in Sacramento’s hiking scene. The diverse terrain of the region ensures that hikers can experience a wide range of environments, including lush forests, rolling hills, serene lakes, and breathtaking waterfalls.


Throughout this article, we will explore some of the best hiking destinations near Sacramento, each with its own unique charm and beauty. So lace up your boots, grab your backpack, and get ready to embark on an adventure in the great outdoors!


American River Parkway

The American River Parkway is a true gem for outdoor enthusiasts, located just minutes away from downtown Sacramento. Spanning 23 miles along the scenic American River, this extensive trail system offers a variety of hiking options for individuals of all fitness levels.


Whether you prefer a leisurely stroll, a challenging hike, or a bike ride, the American River Parkway has something for everyone. The trail meanders through lush forests, alongside the river, and provides breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.


One of the most popular sections of the parkway is the Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail, commonly referred to as the American River Bike Trail. This paved trail stretches for 32 miles, following the river from Sacramento to Folsom, and provides an excellent opportunity for cycling, walking, or running. Along the route, you’ll encounter scenic picnic spots, wildlife sightings, and even historical landmarks such as the Folsom Powerhouse State Historic Park.


If you’re an avid bird watcher, the parkway is a birding paradise, with over 200 species recorded in the area. Keep an eye out for herons, egrets, hawks, and even the elusive bald eagle. The river itself offers opportunities for fishing, kayaking, and rafting, making it a truly versatile destination for outdoor enthusiasts.


For those seeking a more immersive nature experience, the American River Parkway has numerous trails that branch off from the main bike trail. One such trail is the Discovery Park Loop, a 5.7-mile loop that takes you through oak woodlands and offers panoramic views of the river. Another popular option is the William B. Pond Recreation Area, which has a network of trails perfect for hiking, trail running, and dog walking.


With its scenic beauty, abundant wildlife, and endless trails to explore, the American River Parkway is a must-visit destination for hikers in Sacramento. So grab your walking shoes and head out to discover the natural wonders that await you along this picturesque river trail.


Effie Yeaw Nature Center

Tucked away in the heart of the American River Parkway, the Effie Yeaw Nature Center offers a unique opportunity to explore the natural wonders of Sacramento. This 100-acre nature preserve is dedicated to educating visitors about the local flora and fauna through interactive exhibits and guided nature walks.


The center’s main attraction is its extensive trail system, which consists of several loop trails that wind through oak woodlands, meadows, and riparian habitats. The trails vary in length and difficulty, catering to both casual walkers and avid hikers. Along the way, you’ll have the chance to spot native wildlife such as deer, coyotes, rabbits, and a variety of bird species.


One of the highlights of the Effie Yeaw Nature Center is its educational programs. Knowledgeable naturalists lead guided walks, providing insights into the various plant and animal species found in the area. The center also offers engaging exhibits that showcase the region’s history and ecology. Children and adults alike will enjoy interactive displays, hands-on activities, and live animal demonstrations.


In addition to the trails and educational programs, the Effie Yeaw Nature Center features a visitor center with a gift shop, picnic areas, and a nature garden. The garden, filled with native plants and flowers, serves as a tranquil spot for relaxation and bird watching.


Whether you’re looking for a peaceful nature walk, an educational experience, or simply a place to connect with the natural beauty of Sacramento, the Effie Yeaw Nature Center is an ideal destination. Immerse yourself in the serene atmosphere, learn about the local ecosystem, and marvel at the diverse wildlife that calls this preserve home.


Lake Tahoe

Located just a short drive from Sacramento, Lake Tahoe is a breathtaking destination that offers some of the most picturesque hiking opportunities in Northern California. Known for its crystal-clear waters and stunning mountain vistas, this alpine lake attracts outdoor enthusiasts from all over the world.


The Lake Tahoe Basin is home to an extensive network of trails that cater to hikers of all levels, from casual walkers to experienced adventurers. With over 300 days of sunshine each year, the hiking season in Lake Tahoe is long, spanning from spring to fall. During this time, you can explore trails that lead you through old-growth forests, along rugged mountain ridges, and to hidden waterfalls.


One popular hiking destination is the Tahoe Rim Trail, a 165-mile loop that circumnavigates the entire lake. This iconic trail offers stunning panoramic views of the lake and surrounding mountains at every turn. While completing the entire trail is a feat reserved for advanced hikers, there are plenty of shorter sections that provide equally breathtaking scenery.


If you’re seeking a more leisurely hike, consider exploring the Emerald Bay State Park. This picturesque park is home to the iconic Vikingsholm Castle and features trails that lead you to stunning lookout points overlooking the bay. The Rubicon Trail, in particular, offers a scenic coastal hike that showcases the azure waters of the lake.


For those looking to challenge themselves, the Desolation Wilderness is a must-visit destination. This federally protected wilderness area is known for its rugged terrain, pristine lakes, and granite peaks. Hiking in the Desolation Wilderness requires a permit, but the rewards of witnessing its untouched beauty are well worth it.


Aside from hiking, Lake Tahoe offers an array of other outdoor activities to complement your visit. You can indulge in water sports such as kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, or even take a refreshing swim in the clear waters. In the winter, the region transforms into a winter wonderland and becomes a haven for skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts.


Whether you visit Lake Tahoe for its stunning hiking trails, pristine waters, or winter adventures, this natural wonder will leave you awe-inspired. So pack your backpack, lace up your boots, and set out to discover the enchanting beauty of Lake Tahoe.


Cosumnes River Preserve

Nestled in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the Cosumnes River Preserve is a hidden gem for nature lovers and hikers. Spanning over 50,000 acres, this expansive preserve offers a diverse array of habitats, including wetlands, riparian forests, and grasslands, creating a haven for countless plant and animal species.


The preserve boasts an extensive trail network, providing visitors with the opportunity to explore its natural wonders. The River Walk Trail is a popular choice, offering a leisurely stroll along a raised boardwalk that meanders through marshes and showcases the impressive bird life that calls the preserve home. Grab your binoculars and keep an eye out for majestic herons, graceful egrets, and colorful waterfowl.


For a longer hike, the Wetlands Walk Trail is an excellent option. This loop trail takes you deeper into the wetlands, offering a closer look at the diverse flora and fauna that thrive in this unique ecosystem. Interpretive signs along the trail provide valuable information about the preserve’s natural history and conservation efforts.


Bird enthusiasts must not miss the Lost Slough Wetlands Loop Trail, which offers prime birdwatching opportunities. This trail winds through flooded rice fields and wetlands, attracting a wide variety of migratory and resident bird species. Binoculars, a field guide, and a camera are essential companions for this hike.


In addition to hiking, the Cosumnes River Preserve offers educational programs, guided tours, and birding workshops led by knowledgeable naturalists. These activities provide valuable insights into the importance of wetland conservation and the unique ecological significance of the region.


Whether you’re a casual hiker or an avid birder, the Cosumnes River Preserve is a must-visit destination for its serene beauty, diverse wildlife, and educational opportunities. Immerse yourself in the tranquility of nature, witness breathtaking bird migrations, and appreciate the delicate balance of this pristine preserve.


Auburn State Recreation Area

Just a short drive northeast of Sacramento, the Auburn State Recreation Area is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts seeking adventure in a beautiful natural setting. Spanning over 40 miles along the American River, this expansive recreation area offers a myriad of hiking trails, picturesque river canyons, and historic landmarks.


One of the main attractions in the Auburn State Recreation Area is the Western States Trail. This legendary trail not only provides breathtaking views of the river and surrounding canyons but also serves as a portion of the famous Western States Endurance Run. While tackling the entire 100-mile race might not be on your agenda, exploring sections of the trail will reward you with stunning scenery and a true sense of wilderness.


For a shorter and more family-friendly hike, the Lake Clementine Trail is a popular choice. This 4-mile out-and-back trail leads you to the beautiful Lake Clementine and its impressive dam. Along the way, you’ll enjoy panoramic views of the lake, cascading waterfalls, and the opportunity to dip your feet in the refreshing waters.


If you’re looking for a challenging and rugged hike, the Hidden Falls Regional Park within the Auburn State Recreation Area is worth exploring. This diverse park offers over 30 miles of trails, taking you through oak woodlands, past serene ponds, and, of course, to the hidden gem itself – Hidden Falls. The falls cascade into a crystal-clear pool, creating a tranquil oasis amidst the rugged terrain.


In addition to hiking, the Auburn State Recreation Area offers opportunities for swimming, fishing, kayaking, and even gold panning. The American River provides a refreshing backdrop for water-based activities, and the abundant wildlife in the area often delights visitors with sightings of deer, hawks, and occasional river otters.


With its scenic beauty, diverse trails, and recreational amenities, the Auburn State Recreation Area is a true outdoor paradise. Whether you’re seeking a peaceful hike, a thrilling adventure, or a family-friendly outing, this recreation area has something to offer. Lace up your hiking boots, grab your camera, and get ready to discover the stunning natural wonders of Auburn.


Hidden Falls Regional Park

Tucked away in the scenic foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Hidden Falls Regional Park is a natural treasure waiting to be explored. Located within the Auburn State Recreation Area, this picturesque park offers captivating trails, serene ponds, and, as its name suggests, a hidden waterfall that serves as its centerpiece.


Hidden Falls Regional Park boasts over 30 miles of trails, providing ample opportunities for hikers of all skill levels to immerse themselves in nature. The park’s main attraction is the Hidden Falls Trail, a 3.5-mile loop that takes you through oak woodlands, along meandering streams, and ultimately rewards you with the mesmerizing sight of the 30-foot waterfall. The rushing water plunges into a clear pool, creating a serene and awe-inspiring atmosphere.


For a longer and more challenging hike, consider exploring the North Fork Quarry Trail. This 7-mile out-and-back trail showcases the rugged beauty of the park, with rocky terrain, panoramic views of the surrounding canyons, and glimpses of the North Fork of the American River. Be prepared for an adventurous trek that rewards you with stunning vistas and a true sense of wilderness.


If you’re looking for a more leisurely experience, the Creek Trail is a great option. This 2-mile trail meanders alongside Coon Creek, offering peaceful ambiance and frequent wildlife sightings. Keep your eyes peeled for deer, wild turkeys, and a variety of bird species.


Hidden Falls Regional Park is not just a haven for hikers but also a paradise for mountain bikers and equestrians. The park offers designated trails for these activities, allowing visitors to explore the park and enjoy its natural beauty from different perspectives.


It’s important to note that Hidden Falls Regional Park requires advance reservation for entry on weekends and holidays. This system ensures a more controlled and enjoyable experience for visitors, preventing overcrowding and preserving the park’s natural integrity.


With its diverse trail options and tranquil beauty, Hidden Falls Regional Park offers a refreshing escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Whether you’re seeking a challenging hike, a peaceful walk, or a family outing, this hidden gem is sure to leave you mesmerized by its natural wonders.


Daffodil Hill

If you’re looking to immerse yourself in a sea of vibrant colors, then Daffodil Hill is the place to be. Located in the quaint town of Volcano, just a short drive from Sacramento, Daffodil Hill showcases a breathtaking display of daffodils that draws visitors from far and wide.


Each spring, this family-owned farm opens its gates to the public, offering a stunning spectacle of over 300,000 daffodil bulbs in full bloom. The sight of rolling hills covered with vibrant yellow and white blooms is truly a sight to behold and makes for a perfect backdrop for a leisurely walk or a picturesque picnic.


As you stroll through the fields, surrounded by the sweet fragrance of daffodils, you’ll find various trails that lead you to different parts of the farm. Take your time to explore the different garden areas, which feature meticulously maintained flower beds bursting with colorful blooms.


Aside from the daffodils, Daffodil Hill is also home to charming farm buildings, beautiful vegetation, and even farm animals. Visitors can enjoy interacting with friendly goats and chickens, adding an extra touch of delight to the experience.


It’s important to note that Daffodil Hill is only open for a limited time each year, typically from late March to early April, depending on the bloom season. Due to its popularity, the farm can get crowded during peak times, so planning your visit during weekdays or early in the morning may provide a more serene and enjoyable experience.


Keep in mind that Daffodil Hill is a working farm operated by volunteers, and there is no admission fee. However, donations are gladly accepted to help with the upkeep and maintenance of the farm.


Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a flower lover, or simply seeking a unique and enchanting experience, a visit to Daffodil Hill is sure to leave you with a lasting impression. Revel in the beauty of nature’s vibrant colors, take memorable photos, and create cherished memories as you immerse yourself in this dazzling floral paradise.


Mount Diablo State Park

Standing tall at 3,849 feet, Mount Diablo is an iconic landmark and a beloved state park that offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. Located in Contra Costa County, just east of the San Francisco Bay Area, Mount Diablo State Park attracts hikers, nature enthusiasts, and adventure seekers year-round.


The park’s network of trails provides ample opportunities for exploration and adventure. The Summit Trail is a popular choice for hikers, leading you to the pinnacle of Mount Diablo, where on clear days, you can enjoy sweeping vistas that extend for over 200 miles. The hike showcases diverse plant life, from oak woodlands to chamise chaparral, and rewards climbers with a sense of accomplishment and awe-inspiring views.


For a more leisurely experience, the Rock City and Sentinel Rock Loop Trail is a great option. This trail winds through rock formations, ancient oaks, and offers the chance to climb Sentinel Rock for an even more magnificent viewpoint. The park’s unique rock formations are a treat for both hikers and rock climbers, with opportunities for bouldering and exploring crevices.


If you’re up for a challenge and seeking a longer hike, the Diablo Grand Loop is a 13-mile adventure that encompasses multiple trails in the park. This loop takes you through varied habitats, including grasslands, forests, and steep ridges, offering diverse scenery and encounters with local wildlife along the way.


Mount Diablo State Park is also known for its captivating geological features, such as the Devil’s Slide Trail, which showcases a layer of shale that shimmers under the sunlight. The park is teeming with fascinating plant and animal species, including the endemic Mount Diablo fairy lantern and the acorn woodpecker.


Aside from hiking, the park provides opportunities for camping, mountain biking, horseback riding, and stargazing. Many visitors even opt to drive or cycle to the summit for scenic views without the hike. Be sure to check the park’s visitor center for updated information on park conditions, events, and guided activities.


Mount Diablo State Park offers an escape into nature and a chance to witness the beauty of the Bay Area from new heights. Whether you choose to embark on a challenging hike, enjoy a leisurely nature walk, or simply soak in the scenery from the summit, a visit to Mount Diablo will leave you in awe of the natural wonders that await atop this majestic peak.


Point Reyes National Seashore

Situated along the stunning coastline of Northern California, Point Reyes National Seashore is a natural treasure that captivates visitors with its rugged cliffs, expansive beaches, and diverse wildlife. Just a short drive from Sacramento, this protected area offers a unique blend of coastal beauty, rich history, and abundant outdoor activities.


One of the main draws of Point Reyes National Seashore is its pristine beaches. From the popular Limantour Beach with its golden sands to the secluded and picturesque Wildcat Beach, there are plenty of opportunities for sunbathing, beachcombing, and tidepool exploring. Point Reyes also boasts one of the longest stretches of undeveloped coastline on the West Coast, providing a sense of untouched beauty and tranquility.


The park is known for its abundant wildlife, making it a haven for nature lovers and bird enthusiasts. Over 400 bird species have been recorded in the area, including raptors, shorebirds, and waterfowl. Keep an eye out for the impressive tule elk, which roam freely in the park and are often spotted grazing in meadows or near the shores.


Point Reyes National Seashore offers a variety of hiking trails that showcase the park’s diverse landscapes. The Tomales Point Trail takes you on a scenic trek along the peninsula, offering breathtaking views of the ocean and opportunities to spot wildlife. For a shorter hike, the Chimney Rock Trail leads you to a stunning overlook where you can witness the annual gray whale migration in the winter and early spring.


The park is also home to the historic Point Reyes Lighthouse, which dates back to 1870. A visit to this iconic landmark allows you to step back in time and learn about the fascinating maritime history of the area. The lighthouse offers stunning views of the coastline and is a popular spot for whale watching.


Whether you’re seeking coastal adventures, wildlife encounters, or a peaceful retreat by the ocean, Point Reyes National Seashore promises to deliver a memorable experience. Immerse yourself in the natural beauty, explore the picturesque trails, and savor the tranquility found in this coastal paradise.



The Sacramento region is a treasure trove of outdoor destinations, offering a wide range of hiking opportunities for adventure seekers and nature enthusiasts. From the natural beauty of the American River Parkway and the captivating wildlife of the Cosumnes River Preserve to the majestic views from Mount Diablo and the coastal wonders of Point Reyes National Seashore, there is something for everyone to enjoy.


Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just starting to explore the world of outdoor adventures, the diverse terrain surrounding Sacramento caters to all fitness levels and interests. Lace up your boots and wander through the hidden trails of Effie Yeaw Nature Center or immerse yourself in the floral wonderland of Daffodil Hill. Bike along the American River Parkway to experience the tranquil beauty of the river or venture to the heights of Mount Diablo to be rewarded with breathtaking views.


Sacramento’s proximity to stunning natural landscapes allows for day trips or weekend getaways filled with unforgettable experiences. The region’s mild climate ensures that hiking adventures can be enjoyed year-round, with each season bringing its own charm and natural beauty.


As you embark on your hiking journeys, remember to respect and protect the environment. Leave no trace, stay on designated trails, and be mindful of wildlife and sensitive ecosystems. Additionally, it’s always a good idea to check trail conditions, pack essentials like water and snacks, and let someone know about your plans before heading out.


Whether you’re seeking solitude, adventure, or a deeper connection with nature, the hiking opportunities in and around Sacramento will not disappoint. So, get out there and explore the scenic trails, discover hidden waterfalls, and create memories that will last a lifetime.