The American River Bike Trail is a picturesque riverfront that follows the American River from Downtown, Sacramento to Folsom Lake.
This paved trail is suitable for bikers of all skill levels and is accessible in two lanes with visible mile markers, water fountains, and restrooms along the way.
It goes through the American River Parkway connecting vibrant districts and historic neighborhoods full of eateries, shops, and other great attractions.
There are several access points on the trail, however, it’s usually recommended that take the trail on your bike, starting and ending in the historic Old Sacramento district. You can consider going for a one-way bike ride to Folsom, or a laidback two-day trip and spend the night in Folsom, or a long round-trip day trip.
Most part of the trail is canopied by a wide variety of trees, but it won’t hurt to carry some sunscreen, especially in the summer.
Bike rentals are readily available in places like the Practical Cycle – which also adds up as a bike repair shops found along the trail.
The western terminal of the trail has some parking space at the Discovery Park. You can park your vehicle here for a fee of $5 only. In addition, the trailhead connects the main trail to downtown eateries, hotels, and museums.
You can spend the night at Best Western Sandman which is much closer to the trailhead. Alternatively, you may consider the Citizen Hotel Autograph Collection or the Amber House B&B in Sacramento.
Day 1 on the American River Bike Trail
Jibboom Street is one of the best places to embark on your new adventure. It is located to the west-most end of the Discovery Park. American River Bike Trail maps are ready at this starting point.
From here, the trail runs east through the state park and features a beach, riparian, picnic tables, boat ramp, as well as a water conservation center for exotic wildlife such as Western rattlesnakes, California quails, and river otters.
On the trail, you will come across pedestrians walking or jogging on the trail. The bike speed at this part of the trail is about 15 mph, so be mindful of other trail users.
The American River Parkway also provides American River Bicycle Trail maps, Sacramento River maps, as well as brochures on the history of the parkway. It’s recommended to make a pit stop here before you continue on the trail.
Once you cross the Northgate Boulevard, you’ll leave the state park and enter a historical industrial landscape.
For the next eight miles, you see the Bushy Lake, California State Fair site, Commons Golf Course, the Guy A. Memorial Bridge, as well as the University of California. You can take a lunch break at one of the many picnic tables and food joints available on the trail.
In the next six miles, the trail heads northeasterly to the William Pond Recreation Center and goes between several small beautiful neighborhoods. The recreational center features trout-rich fishing ponds and a largemouth bass. It is in this direction that the trail crosses the great American River.
You’ll also ride through the River Bend Park that is full of oak trees, wild turkeys, and deer. This part of the trail is full of pedestrians and vehicles. So be on the lookout to avoid any accidents.
When you leave the River Bend Park, you’ll head over to the Soil Born Farm where you’ll see how the vibrant agricultural activities shape the state of California. A few miles away you’ll get to the Hagan Park which is almost half of the entire American River Bike Trail.
The next five miles or so will take you to the Sunrise Bridge where see people enjoying boat rides on the crystal clear waters, the Nimbus Fish Hatchery, and finally the trail’s terminus in Beal Point at the Folsom Lake. At Folsom, there are several hotels, overnight campgrounds, sandy beach, and eateries.
Catch some sleep and get enough rest for another day of adventure.
Day 2 on the American River Bike Trail
The second of your trip should be a piece of cake – you did the hard part on day 1.
You can explore the streets of Old Sacramento district on foot to fully understand the history and culture of this place. The State Railroad Museum is a great place to visit and you’ll get to see over 20 restored cars and locomotives.
You’ll see a lot of historical trestles and more museums. You can never get enough of this beautiful city. You can end your day at a nice, cozy hotel and have a heavy local delicacy with some refreshing beer.