All great cities have great parks. Sacramento and the surrounding areas certainly fit into the great cities with great parks category. Some are small neighborhood parks, while others are on the rather big, regional order. Figure out what you need in a park and you will find a match in the Sacramento area.
William McKinley Park
601 Alhambra Blvd.
Sacramento, CA 95816
How about starting with 31.9 acres of beauty? William McKinley Park is home to over 40 picnic tables, with room for over 500 guests. It has BBQ pits, tent pads and great spaces to play and relax. A rose garden, tennis courts, a fishing pond and swimming and wading pools grace the grounds. Also in the mix is a community center and library. Volleyball or horseshoes, anyone? Perhaps a bit of basketball would do. This is a rather put-together park, and it is well-loved by the community.
6700 Tarshes Drive
Carmichael, CA 95608
Ancil Hoffman Park has trails to explore on foot, bicycles or on horseback. Keep to the trails and find your way to the American River. Located within the park is a fine golf course and the Effie Yeaw Nature Center. The area is home to more than 100 species of birds, deer and other wildlife. Picnic under the native oaks or along the banks of the river. Dogs are okay to bring along but must be on a leash at all times. It will take more than one visit to take in this beauty.
1600 Garden Highway
Sacramento, CA 95833
Right at the meeting of the great Sacramento and American Rivers, this park has 302 acres to frolic in. It is located just off I-5 in downtown Sacramento. On hot days, the river frontage is just too good to be true. It is also a fantastic spot to launch out onto the Jedidiah Smith bike trail, called the American River Bike Trail by many. The boat launch will put you into the waters of the American River for a bit of on-river fishing. Picnic, relax or ride your bike. Take a deep breath and enjoy this downtown gem.
4101 Eagles Nest Road
Mather, CA 95655
The United States Air Force built an airbase here and stationed a handful of B-52s at this location. When the base was decommissioned, Sacramento County wisely put a regional park on part of the old base. There is a very nice 18-hole golf course here, along with a very good cafe. The 1,600-acre park has a stocked lake of bass and trout. It may be the best-kept fisherman’s secret around. Picnic to your heart’s content. At the right time of year, carefully explore the rare vernal pools that “…dot the area like tiny wild gardens.”
2780 Azevedo Drive
Sacramento, CA 85833
Going to a park for a bit of relaxing fun is a great idea. Taking your wonder dog with you can make it even more fun. There are several dog parks in the Sacramento area, but Bannon Creek has a fenced off-leash area that welcomes your licensed pet. There’s just .6 acres here for your pooch, but it comes with benches and a doggie drinking fountain. When you’re done running with the dogs, head back to your picnic table and enjoy a treat. Keep in mind that you are responsible for picking up after your dog.
Charles Ferris is a freelance writer who has lived in the Sierra, halfway between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe, for the last 37 years. In 2010 he retired from teaching after 36 years . He and his wife hike, kayak, cross country ski, snow shoe, ride mountain bikes and road bikes, year round. His work can be found at Examiner.com.