The American River starts high in the peaks of the Sierra Nevada. It winds and crashes through deep canyons down to the foothills where it eventually is tamed to form Folsom Lake. Released again, it flows wide and powerful to meet the Sacramento River. This moderate 66-mile, four-day walkabout starts in the foothill town of Auburn and descends downstream along the river. It hikes back in time through California’s gold-rush history visiting Old Town Auburn, Folsom, and Sacramento. On this hike, you’ll enjoy charming inns, excellent restaurants, live music, a brew pub, and old-time saloons.
Looking for a fun weekend hike? The first two days of this walkabout from Auburn to Folsom are a beautiful hiking get-away.
Spring is the perfect season for this journey. Willows, cottonwoods, and buckeyes are leafing out. Wildflowers grace lush meadows – fields of blue lupine, white and pale-blue Douglas iris, buckbrush dense with clusters of sweet-smelling white flowers, 20-foot high and wide blooming redbuds. Turkey vultures and red-tailed hawks circle slowly on warm updrafts. Wild turkeys scamper across the trail and chortle in the woods. Small herds of mule deer graze on tall shoreline grass.
Descend through the deep river canyon on the first two days. You will probably only see a few other hikers. As you approach Folsom, the countryside opens. You’ll join the American River Parkway and hike it all the way to Sacramento. Gentle trails wind along the river. Civilization is only a mile or two away, but the forest is deep and tranquil. The only sounds are the music of spring songbirds, the breeze through the trees, and flow of the river.
Below Nimbus Dam, the American rages wide and wild as it races to merge with the Sacramento River. Your journey has descended from the Sierra Nevada foothills to the Sacramento Valley through beautiful country, visiting wonderful inns and interesting towns. Walk in the footsteps of the pioneers, hiking from inn-to-inn along the American River.
Hiking the Tahoe Basin Walkabout is one fourteen inn-to-inn hikes found in the new edition of “Walkabout Northern California: Hiking Inn to Inn.” It can also be purchased as an individual guide.