Starting this year, I set a goal to organize a ladies-only hike twice a year (Spring 2017 – Cataract Falls), and a families hike twice a year. I’ve actually already organized two for families (Effie Yeaw Nature Center & Stone Lakes NWR), but technically the second was a kick-off hike focused on the #hikeforgrayson campaign vs. just a straight hike.
I’d like to welcome anyone in the NorCal area to come and join us for a morning beginner hike at Cosumnes River Preserve! I’ve done a past post on the preserve and it’s a great place for families.
I am NOT a trained hiking guide. Know the limits of those coming with you and do your own research (trail conditions, weather) and prep (snacks/water, first aid, sunscreen).
We will hike/stroll at the pace of the slowest hiker.
On the morning of June 24 we kicked off the #hikeforgrayson campaign with a “kiddie” hike south of Sacramento and just west of Elk Grove. In my previous post, just my older son and I explored the trails, but on this day we had nearly forty people in our group!
We were so happy to have so many people come out for a nice stroll through this national wildlife refuge that most of them never knew about!
Why we love it: No matter what your party size, you can easily stroll around the trails for a light hike/nature walk.
For the Young Ones (0-10): They little ones will keep stopping along the path, finding little bugs crossing the path, or pointing out the animal footprints permanently placed in the concrete.
For the Big Kids (10+): Before or after walking around, big kids might enjoy the FREE Paddle Program that offers relaxed guided summer wildlife viewing and interpretation paddles for canoers and kayakers. (June through September.)
Keep in Mind:
You cannot rely on GPS to get you here – From Sacramento, travel south on Interstate 5 and take the Hood Franklin Road exit. At the stop sign, turn right, heading west for about one mile. The entrance sign and turn lane will be on your left.
While the wide trail is inviting and there is lots of wildlife to spot, keep in mind that snakes are a part of that wildlife. Make sure to educate you group (esp. kids) on how to watch out for snakes.
Around the Area: Just a mile east of I-5, you can easily cross over the freeway to Elk Grove, or hop back on the freeway.
PG&E’s Sierra Discovery Trail is an interpretive loop trail that is full of educational signs describing the local plants, geology and wildlife of the area. This 0.8-mile trail is located off of Highway 20 and Bowman Lake Road near Alta, CA. Sarah’s family was camping in the Tahoe National Forest at White Cloud Campground along Highway 20 and checked out this trail during the day.
Why we love it: The Sierra Discovery Trail is a fun and easy trail for kids and dogs alike. This trail begins at a gazebo that provides interpretive information about the area, including hydropower operations and local history. The trail ventures through a marsh over a wooden boardwalk and continues over a bridge and through a mixed pine and fir forest along the Bear River to a scenic waterfall overlook. This trail offers an easier option by veering to the right after the bridge.
For the Young Ones (0-10): The younger kiddos will enjoy stopping along the trail at the various river access points and checking out the signs with pictures of plants and wildlife. There are benches along the way to hang out and enjoy the scenery.
For the Big Kids (10+): Big kids will enjoy reading the interpretive signs and stopping along the river. There are various points along the river to enjoy fishing as well.
Keep in Mind:
Be mindful of the changing river flows. Multiple signs are posted along the river warning of the possible rising flows.
There are restrooms (vault toilets) near the parking lot but not many other facilities nearby. Plan ahead and bring snacks or lunch and plenty of water.
This trail is at a higher elevation so it is typically covered in snow during the late fall and winter months.
Around the Area: There are many great local food options in the Nevada City and Grass Valley area. One of our favorite eateries is Summer Thyme’s Bakery and Deli in Grass Valley. This local café has yummy sandwiches and pastries as well as a play kitchen area to keep kiddos busy.
Difficulty Level: Beginner
Guest contributor Sarah Perrin is a wife, mother of one boy and two dogs, wildlife biologist, home baker, and outdoor enthusiast who enjoys exploring the California foothills and Sierras with her family and friends.
Let’s face it – finding a hike, or really any trail, in a city isn’t exactly easy! This week I’ll post about two places that are actually close enough to do on any day of the week. For this blog post, I used this TrailLink map and mapped out what I call a “kiddie hike” along the Laguna Creek Trail.
Why we love it: Picking up the trail just west of the Wendy’s/Snobites parking lot, in Camden Park, you can take a leisurely stroll along the greenbelt and get to a playground at Mix Park in about 1.1 miles. Looping back makes for a nice 2.2 mile walk, with a break in the middle at the playground. Use the map above, or use GPS to find your way.
For the Young Ones (0-10): Littles that are just getting acquainted with longer walks will have a flat surface with interesting kid-friendly sights along the way, including a lake, birds, turtles, mushrooms, and bugs! Most fun of all, the incentive of a playground ahead! Since it’s paved it is stroller and wheelchair accessible, and the path is clear enough that kids can run ahead and you can still see them.
For the Big Kids (10+): The trail is open to walkers and bikers alike, so big kids may like exploring the entire trail on bike. There’s also a basketball hoop and tennis courts near the playground if they’re game for a family walk followed by basketball or tennis.
Keep in Mind:
Bond Road is a very busy street, so be careful when parking and heading towards the park.
The trail winds through a neighborhood, and many people walk the trail with their dogs. All of the ones we saw were on leashes and the owners moved the dogs away from the kids.
There are no bathrooms at the playground or along this part of the trail.
Around the Area: Have a local treat after your walk at Snobites, or have a meal at one of the many places to eat along Bond.
I’ve wanted to see Burney Falls for a very, very long time! At over 3 hours from Sacramento, we decided the best way to spend time at Burney Falls is to camp at McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park! If you decide not to camp, it’s still easy to get the falls once in the park, provided the crowds don’t max out the park’s capacity.
Why we love it: Burney Falls is unlike any waterfall I’ve ever seen! As per the park’s website: The park’s centerpiece is the 129-foot Burney Falls, which is not the highest or largest waterfall in the state, but possibly the most beautiful. Additional water comes from springs, joining to create a mist-filled basin. Burney Creek originates from the park’s underground springs and flows to Lake Britton, getting larger along the way to the majestic falls. We did the hike early in the morning, before there were many other people on the trail, and it was glorious!
For the Young Ones (0-10): The falls overlook is just a few minutes from the parking lot, making it easy for the entire family to enjoy the falls without even taking a hike! The Jr. Ranger program (technically for those age 7 and up, but there were younger kids there) is a sweet half hour program you can learn more about at the Visitor’s Center. There’s also a General Store where people line up for soft serve ice cream!
For the Big Kids (10+): For young ones that are hikers + the big kids, hike down to the bottom of the falls where you’ll feel the mist, and then take the Falls Loop trail (see map on pg. 6) at under 1.5 miles roundtrip! The trail will take you around and up near the top of the falls and back to the falls overlook. While we were on the trail, my hubby and six year-old spotted a badger!
Keep in Mind:
There are approx. five miles of hiking trails in the park, but many are closed due to winter damage.
If you’re looking to cool off, head to Lake Britton at the back of the park.
The park advises that if the park reaches capacity, you should not park along Hwy. 89 because your vehicle may be subject to citation and tow.
The bathrooms are outside near the General Store, and there seemed to always be a line. Get in line before anyone says they need to go!
There is no cell phone service in the park.
Around the Area: As mentioned above, Lake Britton is fun to check out! Our six year-old could sit by the water for hours, just throwing rocks. People go to the lake to fish, swim, and paddleboard, so there are plenty of activities to do within the state park.
For Memorial Day weekend our family booked a campsite at McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park, but with a check-in time of 2pm, we wanted to take advantage of the day on the way to our campsite. I looked for a couple of things that would be fun but on the quick side, and decided on Hedge Creek Falls & McCloud Falls.
Why we love it: There are three falls to see here – upper, middle, and lower. What was great for us was that we could see all three falls without much hiking effort or time spent; just a quick five to ten minute walk from the parking lot at each waterfall!
For the Young Ones (0-10): It’s an easy-peasy walk from the parking lot to waterfall observation deck at any of the three falls, getting you the view with very little effort! The lower falls were by far the most popular and if you trust the kiddos by water, you can go down to the rocks right by the water. There are also lots of picnic tables and bathrooms at the lower falls.
For the Big Kids (10+): If you have some time, take the approx. three mile hike between the falls. We didn’t see all of the trail since we were keeping it quick, but it looks like they did a really nice job of making a solid trail between the falls.
Keep in Mind:
The water is frigid and quick. Be extremely careful whenever near the water. We stuck our feet in by the parking lot at upper falls, and my toes tingled from the cold pretty quickly.
The parking lot at the lower falls is rumored to always be the most slammed. (Based on our experience, I’d say this is true.) Consider hiking from the upper falls down to middle and then to lower.
While the viewing areas seem pretty safe overall, little kids should always be watched closely.
Around the Area: There are tons of hikes and things to see around this general area, but we were just sightseeing on our way to camping!
Difficulty Level: Parking lot to observation decks – beginner.
At 3+ hours from Sacramento (depending on where you live) this short hike may be best saved for part of a road trip going north on I-5, like our family did this weekend.
Why we love it: It’s short and sweet – right off of the highway, the hike is just about one mile roundtrip, and you get to go BEHIND the falls!
For the Young Ones (0-10): It’s a great break after being in the car for a long time (and there’s a port-a-potty in the parking lot)! Plus, the sweet reward of the waterfall is only about a 1/2 mile mini-hike. Just be careful where the trail is slick, and keep little kids away from the edge of the trail.
For the Big Kids (10+): If big kids want to hike a little more, I read that past the waterfall you can keep going a short distance along the creek to get to an observation deck with a view of Mt. Shasta and see where Hedge Creek meets the Sacramento River.
Keep in Mind:
The parking area is across the street from the trailhead. Look for the gazebo to see where to go to start the trail.
There is lots of poison oak along the way, so stick to the trail.
We each ended up with a few mosquito bites, so you may want to have your insect repellant on or ready.
Around the Area: About 45 minutes/an hour prior to getting to the falls, we loved the breakfast tacos at El Zarape in Redding, CA!