Best Scenic Running Paths In The Sacramento Area

April 7, 2012 6:00 AM

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Runners of all types in the greater Sacramento area will find plenty of places to hit the pavement and dirt paths to satisfy their quest for the perfect place to sprint, run, jog or walk with dedicated purpose. Check out these runners’ delights, lace up and hit the trails.

Midtown Tri Club

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Sacramento State University
6000 J St.
Sacramento, CA 95819
(916) 278-6060

The university is a prime place to begin and end a run. The campus itself is a simply beautiful place to explore while running, and the perimeter road that runs around the outside edge of the campus is flat, paved and has plenty of room for the fleet of foot. Take advantage of the areas by the gyms and the stadium for large grassy patches and cinder tracks for your trek. You’ll be in good company with the running crowd of students and faculty who live and work at the university.

discoveryparkoptimized Best Scenic Running Paths In The Sacramento Area

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Discovery Park
I-5 and Richards Blvd.
Sacramento, CA 95814

Price: $5 parking
Hours: sunrise to sunset

The great Sacramento River and the gorgeous American River meet at Discovery Park. The Jedidiah Smith Bike Trail, also known as the American River Bike Trail, begins here. Run a 32-mile, paved, multi-use trail that winds along the American River. The entire span of this spectacular run offers plenty of dirt-trail running opportunities just off the paved path.

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11 19 travel outdoors thanksgiving running Best Scenic Running Paths In The Sacramento Area

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City of Folsom
50 Natoma St.
Folsom, CA 95630
(916) 355-7201

The city maintains more than 34 miles of paved trail used by cyclists, runners, walkers and nature enthusiasts. Along most of the trails are off-piste areas perfect for a trip through the woods. Pick up a trail map at Bicycles Plus, or download the map from its website. This wooded escape from the city always brings smiles, but the map is a true necessity to navigate intersecting trails.

lakenatoma Best Scenic Running Paths In The Sacramento Area

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Lake Natoma Loop
1901 Hazel Ave.
Gold River, CA 95670
(916) 278-2842

Hours: April 1 to Oct. 15 daily 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Oct. 16 to March 30 daily – 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Lake Natoma Loop is an extraordinary spot along the American River Bike Trail, just down stream from Folsom Lake. Parking at either the Nimbus Fish Hatchery or the Sac State Aquatic Center starts you on your way to a loop around this gem of running grandeur. Rolling through wet lands, valley oaks, river rocks galore and high bluffs above, run around the lake or do an out and back. Find water and bathrooms along the path, with opportunities to take off through the trees for a closer commune with nature.

Related: Travel Gide to the Sacramento State Aquatic Center

Sly Park
4771 Sly Park Rd.
Pollock Pines, CA 95726
(530) 295-6824

Price: $10 day-use permit/$120 annually for one vehicle
Hours: October to April daily 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.; May to September daily – 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Out of the urban area, into the mountains just a short drive away, runners find the forests around Sly Park Lake, also called Jenkinson Lake, in Pollock Pines. A stunning canopy of pine, fir, cedar and oak trees meanders around this mountain lake. Forest floor creates a runner’s delight for tired legs on this multi-use trail. The 8.5-mile jaunt around the lake is well worth the drive. Pick up a map at the entrance kiosk.

Charles is a freelance writer who has lived in the Sierra, halfway between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe, for the last 37 years. He retired from teaching after 36 years in 2010. He and his wife hike, kayak, cross country ski, snow shoe, ride mountain bikes and road bikes, year round. Wandering aimlessly, always looking for another place to explore, some place new, is high on the agenda. Charles enjoys all aspects of the great outdoors and writing about it to encourage others to explore as well. His work can be found at