Mather Regional Park is the park you just haven’t been to yet! Go east on Hwy. 50, exit Zinfandel in Rancho Cordova, and head south. You’ll see the entrance on your left just after you pass Douglas Road.
According to AllTrails, there are two loops, but based on my experience it’s more like two out-and-back trails. Both are easy, short, and have access to the water.
- Trail with the lake on your left: If you cross over the little bridge/dam with the lake on your left, you start on a paved trail and then turn off onto a dirt path alongside the lake. When we were there, there were several families fishing along this part of the trail. You can continue for about 1/2 a mile before the trail seems to disappear into the brush, so approx. 1 mile total. If I wasn’t baby wearing and had pants on, I may have pushed on but wouldn’t suggest this with the family.
- Trail with the lake on your right: The trail follows alongside the lake on a path past some picnic tables before turning away from the lake. Along the way there are educational signs until the trail dead ends at a busy street. I saw more wildlife along this way, including a rabbit, lizards, different kinds of birds, and lots of lizards! This trail is about 1/3 mile each way, so less than a mile total.
Why we love it: This is one of those parks that’s great if you’re just starting to introduce the family to hiking. Plus, it’s minutes from restaurants and activities in Rancho Cordova!(It’s just about three miles from Sacramento Children’s Museum!) I think our family would enjoy coming in the morning to fish – they stock the pond, so that may make it a bit easier!
For the Young Ones (0-10): There’s a playground and picnic tables, so you could have hours of exploration and play.
For the Big Kids (10+): I think bigger kids would enjoy fishing and may enjoy just getting out in nature. I wouldn’t tell big kids that they’re going on a hike. My seven year-old would consider this a “nature walk”.
Keep in Mind:
- There is a $5 day use fee for each vehicle.
- When I was there a whole flock of geese were gathered between the lake and the playground and there was bird poo EVERYWHERE. Maybe don’t let the little ones sit in the grass…
- Most of the park is pretty exposed, so have your sun protection for everyone.
Around the Area: All the places you’d go to in Rancho Cordova south of Hwy. 50 are no more than ten minutes away! Restaurants and the children’s museum are what come to mind for me.
Difficulty Level: Beginner