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Best Bike Trails And Rides In Sacramento, CA – Cycling Around The City of Trees

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Cycling in Sacramento can be a great way to see this historic capital city. Known for its role in the California Gold Rush of 1849, the city has plenty to offer when it comes to exploring on two wheels, including several miles of linked trails.

You’ll discover wildlife, beautiful scenery, and historic sites. We’ve listed a few of our favorite bike rides so you can check them out for yourself.

Best Bike Trails And Rides In Sacramento - Pinterest Pin Small ImagePin

7 Best Sacramento Biking Trails And Rides

1. American River Trail (best urban ride)

Jedediah Smith Memorial Loop along the American River in Sacramento on a sunny day - Flickr imagePin
Courtesy: ray_explores on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The American River Trail (Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail) runs for 32 miles from Discovery Park in Sacramento to Beals Point on the shores of Folsom Lake. It’s a paved trail that runs alongside the river, with trees and parkland lining the route.

This is a flat, paved trail that can be ideal for family rides. It also has plenty of access points, many with restrooms, and places to eat and drink can be found not far from the trail.

Surface Type: Paved

Ride Difficulty: Easy – flat, paved, traffic-free bike path.

2. Lake Tahoe Loop (best road ride)

three senior cyclists biking around Lake Tahoe in Sacramento - Flickr imagePin
Courtesy: Knarl Stuart Photography on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The Lake Tahoe Loop lets you ride the whole way around the beautiful Lake Tahoe following the road route of the Lake Tahoe Scenic Drive. The ride passes through several state parks and crosses the state line into Nevada.

This is a 72-mile route that offers spectacular views of the lake and surrounding mountains and forests. But it can be busy with traffic during peak seasons.

Surface Type: Sealed

Ride Difficulty: Hard – long road route with traffic and climbs.

3. Pioneer Trail

The Pioneer Trail runs through Tahoe National Forest. It’s a 25-mile off-road trail that offers stunning views across Gold Country and the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The the out-and-back trail can be a great place for viewing wildlife but some stretches can be a challenging ride, with steep climbs.

There are picnic areas and rest areas along the way. There is parking at the trailhead at Harmony Ridge Market.

Surface Type: Off-road

Ride Difficulty: Medium – single-track with steep climbs at high elevation.

4. Johnny Cash Trail

Courtesy: FolsomNatural on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The Johnny Cash Trail can be an easy ride for all cyclists. This two-and-a-half-mile trail runs from Folsom Powerhouse State Historic Park to the Folsom Lake Crossing Trail. It’s a paved off-road route that lets you cycle through leafy surroundings alongside the grounds of Folsom Prison.

This trail can be easily connected with the American River Trail from Sacramento and can be ridden as a loop using the Folsom Lake Crossing Trail.

Surface Type: Paved

Ride Difficulty: Easy – traffic-free paved path.

5. Davis Bike Loop

The city of Davis has long been known as the Bike Capital of America, with almost all roads in the city having some type of bike path. The city is also the home of the US Bicycling Hall of Fame. The 12-mile Davis Loop (Strava ride) takes you around the city and past the UC Davis Arboretum, including sections through the campus.

This can be an easy ride from downtown that follows the road. The bike route is marked with green bikes painted on the pavement. There are also many other paths you can take to extend your ride.

Surface Type: Sealed

Ride Difficulty: Easy – flat road route.

6. Lake Natoma Trail

The Lake Natoma Trail is a six-mile trail that runs along the southern shores of Lake Natoma. This is a paved route that can be a pleasant ride for all cyclists, with trees for shade and places to stop to admire the views over the water.

The trail can be accessed from Nimbus Flat Recreation Area where you’ll find parking and restrooms. However, there is a parking fee. The route can easily be linked with the American River Trail from Sacramento and can be ridden in a loop by crossing the lake near Folsom.

Surface Type: Paved

Ride Difficulty: Easy – flat and traffic-free.

7. Jenkinson Lake Trail

An hour’s drive east of Sacramento will bring you to Sly Park Recreation Area, a scenic spot with the turquoise Jenkinson Lake at its center, surrounded by green pine forests and wildlife (it can be a good spot for viewing eagles).

The Jenkinson Lake Trail is just under nine miles and takes you off-road and around the lake. The route has a few technical sections with tight corners and steep climbs and drops.

Surface Type: Off-road

Ride Difficulty: Medium – some climbs and drops over rugged terrain.

Bike Rentals And Tours Around Sacramento

There are several places to rent bikes in and around Sacramento. For some mountain biking trails, such as Jenkinson Lake Trail, you may want to take your own.

Sacramento, CA Bike Laws

We’ve included some of the main California biking laws as a guide but you should research the rules for yourself. This is not intended as legal advice.

  • Helmets are required to be worn by all cyclists under the age of 18.
  • Lights are necessary for night riding. A white headlight is required plus a rear red reflector or light. Your bike must also have pedal/foot reflectors and reflectors visible from the side.
  • It’s illegal to ride your bike while under the influence of alcohol.
  • Group riding on roads is limited to no more than two abreast. However, if the road is too narrow for vehicles to safely pass, you should ride single-file. You can take the lane if moving at the same speed as traffic. Otherwise, keep as far right as possible.
  • E-Bikes can be ridden on roads in the same way as a traditional bicycle. They can also be ridden on some bike paths unless prohibited.

Final Words

Sacramento has a whole host of bike trails and rides to suit all abilities. From challenging but incredibly scenic road routes to forest trails and urban parkways, this capital city can be worth visiting.

Let us know which trail you plan to do first. And if you want to encourage others to get on their bikes, share this.

Mark Whitley
Mark Whitley
I’m Mark, a cycling enthusiast, and the founder and chief editor of Bike Push. If I’m not working on this website, then I’m out on the bike clocking up the miles. I want to help others get the most out of cycling.

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