If you appreciate the outdoors, northern California is a dream come true. It has a bit of everything: rugged mountains and coastlines, vineyard-draped foothills, turquoise lakes, and otherworldly forests as well as marshes, wetlands, and riparian habitats. In and around Elk Grove, hikers can explore a wide variety of northern California’s terrains and trails, many accessible year-round. Here is an overview of the top local hiking areas and some of the most popular trails.
1. Camden Park
When you visit or live in Elk Grove, you have easy access to both suburban convenience and the great outdoors. From downtown Elk Grove, it’s only an 8-minute drive to the peaceful and scenic Camden Park, a family-friendly area with walking trails along a creek.
Most Popular Hiking Trails
- Camden Park Loop Trail: This is a 3-mile family-friendly, moderately trafficked loop in a residential area by a lake. Large trees provide generous amounts of shade, and benches offer spots for resting and contemplation. The trail is popular with runners, walkers, and bikers. Dogs are welcome but must be leashed.
- Elk Grove Creek Trail: This is an 8.6 mile paved, family-friendly hike with lovely views of the creek. Dogs must be on a leash. The trail is suitable for walking, biking, and in-line skating and is also wheelchair accessible.
2. Del Meyer Park
On the outskirts of Elk Grove, Del Meyer Park is an easy access point for hiking and biking trails along Laguna Creek. From the park, hikers can access the Elk Grove Laguna Creek Trail, a 5 km out-and-back along the river. This trail is wheelchair accessible and kid friendly. You can bring your dog, too, but all furry friends must be leashed.
3. Cosumnes River Preserve
A 20-minute drive from Elk Grove, the Cosumnes River Preserve offers several miles of pristine hiking trails. The preserve is home to more than 250 bird species, 40 fish species, and 400+ plant species and is a great place to observe vernal pool grasslands and wetland habitat. A half-mile round-trip stretch of ADA-accessible boardwalk meanders through wetlands, with rest stops along the way and a viewing platform at the end. Please note that dogs are not allowed at the preserve, leashed or otherwise.
Most Popular Hiking Trails in Cosumnes River Preserve
- River Walk Trail: This 3-mile round trip trail is on raised levees and traverses several different habitats, including buttonbush thickets, native grasslands, valley oak riparian forest, cottonwood-willow riparian forest, tule marsh, and valley oak savannah. In the winter months, this trail is often totally inundated by floodwaters as a result of the natural flood cycle.
- Lost Slough Wetlands Walk Trail: This is a flat and mostly exposed paved trail offering a close-up look at wetland vegetation and wildlife. It includes the ADA-accessible boardwalk.
For more information on all trails in Cosumnes River Preserve, click here.
4. Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge
A 20-minute drive from Elk Grove, the Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge encompasses 18,000 acres of protected land in the southern part of the county. It is one of the few urban refuges in Sacramento County and is home to many migratory bird species.
Most Popular Hiking Area
The Blue Heron Trails are paved, easy walking loops within the restored wetlands and upland habitat of the refuge. These family-friendly and wheelchair-accessible trails offer wonderful opportunities for environmental education, birding, and light exercise, but please leave your furry friend at home.
5. Rancho Seco Recreational Area
Rancho Seco Recreational Area, a 400-acre park with a 160-acre lake and abundant recreational opportunities, is about a 30-minute drive from Elk Grove. The Howard Ranch Trail is a 7-mile out-and-back trail that starts at the Rancho Seco Recreational Area and winds through seasonal wetlands and riparian and marsh habitat, with striking views of oak woodland habitat and the majestic Sierra Nevada Mountains. The trail is open from 7AM to 6PM and there is a $12 charge per vehicle. Specific information about this trail is available at Howard Ranch Information.
6. The Delta
Another popular walking trail in the area is the Delta de Anza Regional Trail, where you can walk, bike, or ride horse along the picturesque Carquinez Strait. The paved trail currently spans over 15 miles of the planned 25-mile length along the East Bay Municipal Utility District corridor and the Contra Costa Water District canal.
The trail connects several regional and community parks, schools, and Los Medanos Community College. The community parks have play areas for children and make excellent rest stops during longer trips, with restrooms, drinking water and picnic facilities.
7. Mokelumne River
An hour’s drive from Elk Grove, the Mokelumne River Day Use Area is a popular access point for the Mokelumne River and Mokelumne River Fish Hatchery. In addition to strolling along the trails that connect the day use area to the hatchery, visitors can fish for steelhead and salmon, wade, and swim.
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