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Sacramento's Best Winter Hiking Trails
Health & Fitness

Sacramento's Best Winter Hiking Trails

If you’ve been stashing away your hiking boots, you’ve been missing out on the best winter hikes in Sacramento.

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5 min read

December 14, 2021

If you’ve been stashing away your hiking boots at the first signs of the temperatures dropping, you’ve been missing out on the best winter hikes. Sacramento, along with many other places in the Golden State, has awesome hiking trails which are better enjoyed during the winter, when there are no crowds, less direct sunlight, and no pesky insects bugging you throughout your trek. Whether you’re craving a riverside stroll, a killer summit view, or a walk through glittering, snow-covered fields, there’s a winter hiking trail in Sacramento that’ll meet your expectations and exceed them.

These are Sacramento's Best Winter Trails

Layer up, grab the necessary gear, and make sure you have enough sun protection—Sacramento’s best winter hiking trails await your exploration. While you might not find full-fledged snowshoe trails here, the state capital’s varied terrain still allows you to go on hiking adventures with plenty of wintery charm.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Not all who wander are lost. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.

1. Guy West Bridge to Watt Avenue Bridge

Location: American River Parkway
Length: 5.1 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Route: Loop
Dogs allowed: On leash

Perhaps the most popular hike in Sacramento, the Guy West Bridge to Watt Avenue Bridge Trail is a year-round charmer. However, if you want to beat the usual crowds, hiking in winter is key. 

Start your winter hiking adventure on a nice, paved trail along the river and you’ll be blessed with beautiful scenery and smooth roads for about five miles to follow. The trail is ADA accessible and is also welcoming to friendly dogs on leash. Along this winter trail, you’ll come across other hikers, bikers, fishermen, bird watchers, and more locals out to enjoy its natural beauty.

2. Capitol Park Loop Trail

Location: Capitol Park
Length: 1.1 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Route: Loop
Dogs allowed: On leash

Don’t want to venture too far out of the city center to enjoy a good winter hiking trail? Trek the popular Capitol Park Loop Trail. This easy stroll serves as a winter trail and sightseeing path in one—it’s located in a beautiful park by the Capitol Building, where you’ll encounter war memorials, a cacti garden, a hundred different types of trees, and a world peace rose garden and fountain along the way.

Slow down and take in the serenity of your surroundings at Capitol Park. Paved entirely with asphalt and bricks, the smooth trail makes for a leisurely winter hiking experience. If you have enough time to kill after your winter hike, choose a shaded area under a tree and treat yourself to a beautiful post-hike picnic—dreamy!

In every walk with nature one receives far more than they seeks. Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory.

3. Barge Canal Trail

Location: West Sacramento
Length: 6.6 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Route: Out and back
Dogs allowed: Yes

The Barge Canal Trail is somewhat a hidden gem of a winter trail, camouflaged in plain sight in West Sacramento’s Industrial District (just a few miles away from the Tower Bridge). Mostly visited by local fishermen, this lovely oasis is perfect for hiking, dog walking, running, and going on nature trips. Not too long ago, the city upgraded the path along the artificial waterway with amenities like seating and lighting, which make the experience all the more pleasant to trek. 

Enjoy hiking on this winter trail, watch the fishermen on their kayaks, let your dog run free, and keep an eye out for the pretty wildflowers and ducks swimming in the pond. It’s only a matter of time before more people find out about the Barge Canal Trail and make it a not-so-secret winter hiking trail.

When everything feels like an uphill struggle, just think of the view from the top. Each fresh peak ascended teaches something.

4. William Land Park Loop

Location: William Land Regional Park
Length: 2.3 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Route: Loop
Dogs allowed: On leash

Sacramento is a treasure trove of beautiful park trails and the William Land Loop is an ideal example. Coming at just a little over two miles, this awesome winter hiking trail offers you sights of ponds, a beautiful rock garden, and sports fields along the way. The majority of this trail is also wheelchair and stroller accessible—it takes you across green landscapes, historic homes, picnic tables, ducks and squirrels, and several scenic varieties. What more could anyone ask for in a winter hiking trail?

In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous. Take only memories, leave only footprints.

5. Levee Path

Location: Sutter’s Landing Regional Park
Length: 3.5 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Route: Out and back
Dogs allowed: On leash

Easy trail, wide paths, river views, and plenty of greenery—isn’t that the formula for an awesome winter trail? Primarily used for running and walking, this beautiful trail is a wonderful spot to unwind away from the bustling city. If hiking isn’t your favorite way to exercise, you’ll be glad to know that the park also features a basketball court, biking trails, and a skate park.

While you’re at the park, visit the historic Sutter’s Fort. Famous for its association with the Donner Party, the California Gold Rush, and the formation of the city of Sacramento, this historic attraction is the perfect follow-up activity to trekking one of the best winter hikes.

Some of the best memories are made in hiking shoes. Life should have more mountains and less stress.

6. Mckinley Park Loop

Location: Mckinley Park
Length: 1 mile
Difficulty: Easy
Route: Loop
Dogs allowed: Yes

A perfect winter trail for when you can only bear a one-mile hike, the Mckinley Park Loop is a beautiful little escape hidden in the suburbs. This path offers lots of places to picnic, a beautiful rose garden to admire, a scenic lake to chill around, and a children’s playground where the little ones will have a blast—the quaint park is essentially a dream escape in the city. Whether you bring your kids or four-legged pals, this winter hiking trail will accommodate your plans and give you a swift getaway with no crowds in sight.

When life gives you mountains, put on your boots and hike. The view is always worth the climb.

7. Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail

Location: American River Parkway
Length: 32.3 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Route: Point to point
Dogs allowed: On leash

The Jedediah Smith Trail—also known as the American River Bike Trail—is a paved, multi-use trail running along the American River. Perhaps one of the most well-known hikes in all of California, this lengthy point-to-point trail is a bucket list experience for many hikers.

The American River Bike Trail begins at Discovery Park in Downtown Sacramento and ends in Beal's Point in Folsom, with many entrances all throughout the trail from main roads, neighborhoods, parks, lakes, and railways. Want to take a break from hiking? Parts of this beautiful winter trail can also be completed on horseback or a dirt bike. Simply choose your favorite portion of this winter hiking trail and give it a go—you’ll soon want to complete it in its entirety and check it off your bucket list.

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