Sacramento is blessed with exquisite environmental and geographical characteristics, making it any mountain-biking enthusiasts dream destination. If that isn’t enough of a reason to visit, the nearly year-round great weather makes for virtually unlimited opportunities to get out on two wheels. The cherry on top however, is that while the relatively flat terrain favors novices, casual riders and families, there are also rugged technical trails that challenge the most experienced of mountain bikers as well.
But with all of these options, contemplating the array of color-coded trails, resembling something similar to a multi-colored plate of intertwined spaghetti plopped onto a map, can be slightly overwhelming. So we decided to highlight the Top 4 types of rides and the most popular routes that accompany them.
photo > Radio Lawyer
#1 – URBAN ESCAPES
When we think of mountain-biking, cityscapes don’t necessarily jump to mind…but this isn’t the case for Sacramento. Stitched together by thousands of trees, 5 000 acres of green belts and open spaces, hundreds of hidden routes and trails have been carved in and amongst the buildings that transport you into nature within a matter of seconds. The Sacramento River Parkway Trail is a clear favorite, with its five star scenic ratings as it passes straight through the entire city, alongside the river’s edge, hugging the eastern banks. Followed closely by Clarksburg Branch Line Trail, which is a lot shorter but no less beautiful, lined with trees that create for a dappled display of shade and sunlight on a sunny afternoon.
#2 – FAMILY OUTINGS
It’s not always easy to take your kids along on a mountain-biking holiday, but luckily Sacramento is an exception, allowing for family bonding moments and the making of lifelong memories. If you have little ones joining in on the adventure, the Jedediah Smith Memorial Bicycle Trail, also known as the American River Bike Trail is the perfect route. With its mostly flat terrain, paved surface, multiple access points and myriad of places to stop for activities; like swimming, picnicking and park visits; you’ll be able to keep the kiddies entertained all day!
This trail is open all year round, from sunrise to sunset, but be advised that the popularity of this trail does not confine itself to bicyclists. You may come across pedestrians, inline skaters and even horseback riders along the way. So if you’re looking for a quiet, serene Sunday, this may not be the best option, however if you have energized kids, they’ll be more than welcome on this bustling route.
photo > Total Women's Cycling
#3 – SOMETHING FOR THE DARING
Looking for something a little bit more exciting? Try the Granite Bay Trail adjacent to Folsom Lake for a beginner-to-intermediate dirt trail course, but if you seek even more of a challenge that really gets the blood pumping and your heart racing, the Foresthill Divide Loop with its 2,000-foot elevation, is recommended for intermediate-to-advanced riders.
Another route to keep on your radar is the Fleming Meadow Trail System in the Eldorado National Forest. It’s made up of a number of epic routes where the level of difficulty ranges from easy to advanced. On a side note however, these trails are once again not exclusively assigned to mountain bikers, so you’ll need to be on the lookout for hikers and equestrians. The flip side of the coin is that due to being slightly more remote, you’re sure to have a high quality, secluded experience away from the crowds which is always a plus.
photo > M Duchek
#4 – EXPLORING THE PATHS LESS TRAVELED
If your priority is to explore places that are off the beaten track and less so about the physical challenge of getting there, a good candidate would be the Sacramento Northern Bike Trail.
It’s an easy-going trail that winds along and in-between historic neighborhoods, old forests, agricultural fields, pastures, rivers and ponds that were once passed by the now retired Northern railway line. Tucked well away in what feels like a different time, it’s well worth the trip to experience it for yourself.
And the best part of all is that these routes are just a very small fraction of what’s on offer in this adventure oasis of a city!
Like we said…Sacramento has it all!