Stone Lakes NWR #hikeforgrayson


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.

Photo credit: Lea Andrus-Photography



Laguna Creek Trail


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.

IMG_7538Why 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.

Difficulty Level: Beginner.


Elk Grove Creek Trail

DSC_2736Why we love it: If you’re in the Elk Grove, CA area it’s an easy way to get in a nice walk and exposure to a bit of nature without heading out of town. We did just a portion of the trail, starting at the shopping center with Peet’s Coffee and Leatherby’s Ice Cream on Laguna Blvd. (between Big Horn Blvd. & Laguna Springs Drive) and heading south. (You can take either side of Elk Grove Creek.) We took the west side of the creek and it was my intention to take it all the way to the playground at Oneto Park, but it was under major construction when we got there!

For the Young Ones (0-10): Our six year-old stopped about every ten feet, checking out bugs on the walkway. Our little guy stayed safely in the stroller and the surface of the trail on this part of the trail is quite easy with the two of them. There were a few walkers with dogs, but they all were on leashes and held them close when passing.


For the Big Kids (10+): There are educational signs along the trail that older kids may enjoy reading, but this may be on the boring side for older kids. Honestly, our six year-old found it boring once there was no goal of getting to a playgrounIMG_5972.JPGd. Nonetheless, we needed to get some fresh air and wanted to spend time together, so it certainly serves that purpose.

Keep in Mind: On the route we took, there is no shade so wear sun protection and don’t go during the heat of the day.

Around the Area: Did you see my mention of Peet’s and Leatherby’s above? There’s also I Love Teriyaki, Nothing Bundt Cakes, McDonald’s, and more in the shopping center.

Difficulty Level: Beginner.

Stone Lakes NWR – Blue Heron Trails


The Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge is located south of Sacramento, in far west Elk Grove. The Blue Heron Trails is a paved trail that consists of just a mile of loops around managed wetlands.

Why we love it: It’s enough of getting out in nature to feel refreshed, while still short and simple!

For the Young Ones (0-10): Our little reader really enjoyed the eight environmental education panels at the four kiosks along the way.

For the Big Kids (10+): There are so many different kinds of birds that come through this area, they’ll enjoy spotting and identifying all of them.


Keep in Mind:

  • Make sure to use the directions on the website and not depend on GPS.
  • The trail is completely wheelchair and stroller accessible, but don’t let that give you a false sense of security – you’re still in a wildlife refuge and should proceed with caution.


Around the Area:The adorable town of Courtland is just a bit further west. If you want to get the most out your trip to the area, go down the last weekend in July for their annual Pear Fair! It’s our family’s favorite fair of the year!

Difficulty Level: Beginner.