Cascade Canal Trail

IMG_3477Why we love it: It’s a great way to get out in nature on a true hike, without much difficulty. Starting at the Gracie Road trailhead, there are a few switchbacks near the beginning, but it evens out and is mostly wide and level terrain.

For the Young Ones (0-10): It may be hard to keep little ones from moving on once the trail starts running alongside the canal. I’m sure littles could spend hours throwing rocks and sticks into the water. Just be careful no one gets too close! There are also a few places you’d want to make sure younger hikers stay near the center of the trail because of drop offs, so if you have kiddos that take off, this may not be aIMG_3473 trail for you. In addition, if you get to the catwalk (See For the Big Kids, below), you can pass it until you get to a road that makes a “T” with the trail and loop around to the left, but it isn’t very clear. (When you “loop” back, you’ll see the catwalk on your left but it isn’t completely obvious you made a loop. Read the full trail description here.)

For the Big Kids (10+): This in-and-out trail is great in that you can make the hike as short as you like or as long as approximately 9 miles. Adventurous big kids will love the catwalk crossing to continue the hike at around the 1.6 mile mark. Once on the other side, turn left to continue on.

Keep in Mind:

  • Dogs on leash are allowed on the trail.
  • Enter these coordinates in Google Maps to best locate the trailhead: N39.24106 W120.99855
  • This trail is known to be accessible year-round, but with a storm the week before we were on the trail, there were parts of the trail that were muddy or a bit snowy/icy. Make sure to pay attention to weather conditions leading up to and including the day of your hike.
  • There are trail markers on the trail, but several of us thought they didn’t match up with our trackers.
  • There are no bathrooms anywhere near the trailhead. Stop at a gas station on your way if you need to!

Around the Area: The town of Nevada City is nearby and super cute to walk around.

Difficulty Level: Beginner.



February 2018 Events

Independence Trail East
Independence Trail East

In February, the month of the love, I am loving the chance to get to go hiking with family, friends, and Family Trail Time followers! Check out these things coming up next month!

February 1st: Join Hike Like a Woman and me the first 10 days of the month for the free #healthyhiker challenge! This challenge is designed to help women all become better versions of ourselves!

February 3rd: Join me and my older son (age 7) for a family-friendly hike/walk in Elk Grove. Details can be found on Facebook here. No limit on the number of people who join us!

February 11th: Join me for a women only hike on the Independence Trail – East near Nevada City, CA. Details can be found on Facebook here. Limited to the first 20 women who register/email as instructed on the Facebook event.


FTT pic for Feb fam 2018
Along the Whitehouse Creek Trail, part of our family-friendly hike/walk in February.


Free Family Hike – TOMORROW!

TOMORROW – Friday, December 29th, 9AM – Free Family Hike: Join us for a family hike in nearby Davis, CA! The trail will be easy and kid-friendly. While it may be cold, so long as it’s not freezing or raining, we’ll be there!

We’ll explore part of the Putah Creek Riparian Reserve on our flat, <4 mile hike. Along the way we should see box elder, valley oak, arroyo and sandbar willow, California grape, California wild rose, Cottonwood, and whatever animals cross our path.

Park at the Old Davis Road Parking (directions: by 9AM. We’ll take a leisure walk/hike along the trail by the water out to the fire ring picnic grounds and back.

We’ve never done this trail, but based on my research, it should take us about 1 1/2 hours, depending on the pace of the kiddos. You can a more detailed map here:

This trail does not appear to be handicap or stroller accessible, though it is flat. After this hike, I’ll share on the blog whether or not I think a stroller like a BOB could handle it.

PLEASE REMEMBER THAT WE ARE NOT TRAINED TRAIL GUIDES. TAKE EVERY PRECAUTION YOU WOULD NORMALLY TAKE WHEN EXPLORING A NEW HIKING TRAIL (including protection from the elements, first aid, water and snacks, watching your children, etc.). BY JOINING US, YOU CONSENT THAT WE ASSUME NO LIABILITY. We’re just a family that enjoys hiking, and hope you do, too!

Cosumnes River Preserve: Wetlands Walk Hike (Revisited)


We last posted about this hike back in 2015, and not much seems to have changed at Cosumnes River Preserve – it’s still a great place for light hikes that are great for families! This time around we organized a hike (see Facebook event page), shared it on the Hike It Baby calendar, and invited anyone interested in coming along.

Why we love it: It is so simple! The Wetlands Walk itself (technically the “Lost Slough Wetlands Walk”) is described as a one-mile universally-accessible trail offering an up-close view of lush marshes, wetland plants, water-birds, insects, and amphibians. We also took advantage of the wooden boardwalk that meanders into the Lost Slough.

For the Young Ones (0-10): Over 250 species of bird, 40 species of fish, 230 varieties of plant, and untold numbers of reptiles and amphibians have been observed in the preserve! Right away, our six year-old spotted a rabbit and enjoyed watching hummingbirds feed on the deck of the Visitor Center. If you take your time, you can spot crawdads in the marshes!

For the Big Kids (10+): There are over 11 miles of trail within the 50,000+ acres of the preserve! Plenty of miles for big kids to explore.

Keep in Mind:

  • At least half of this trail is completely exposed. Sun protection is a must.
  • There are two points at which the trail crosses over the road that leads you to the preserve. Hold on tight to those little ones!

Around the Area: There are events open to the public at the preserve – check out their activities page for more information.

Difficulty Level: Beginner.


Exciting Updates

Make a Wish shirts

I’ve started feeling a bit guilty about the lack of hiking posts recently. To be honest, it’s hotter than Hades in Sacramento right now, we’re obviously very focused on the #hikeforgrayson campaign (thank you SO much to those of you getting out there in support!), and things are even busier than usual for our family.

Upcoming hike posts – Please consider joining us for a free beginner hike at Cosumnes River Preserve at 8AM on Sunday, July 16. Details can be found on the Family Trail Time Events page.

Make a Wish – While we won’t be posting many local hikes this month, we will be posting some from Oregon in late July! Grayson was granted a Make a Wish road trip to Oregon and the four of us will be doing some light hiking and spending time together in nature. We’re very thankful for this opportunity to create some lasting family memories. I’ll post the hikes we do in the typical format, so be on the lookout!

Hike Like a Woman Contributor – Not only has Hike Like a Woman supported the #hikeforgrayson campaign by doing a post on their blog, they’ve invited me to be a contributor! I’ll be writing some posts on traveling to hike, with special attention to doing so with a special needs kiddo.

Hike it Baby – June’s #hikeforgrayson kick-off hike was supported by Hike it Baby and placed on the site’s calendar, and they also put a #hikeforgrayson campaign post on their blog! In addition, Grayson’s “Lita” (grandmother) is hosting a #hikeforgrayson hike in Houston on July 29 and it’s up on the Hike it Baby calendar, too!

#hikeforgrayson campaign – We are very touched by the hikes going on around the world in honor of our Grayson. In just the first two weeks, we’ve seen hikes in Russia, the Netherlands, Finland, two in Germany, and all over the United States! Please see the Hike for Grayson tab and consider doing one – or many – this summer!

Our goals are to 1) raise awareness of Tay-Sachs, and 2) reach 1,000 donations to the Cure Tay-Sachs Foundation by Labor Day! Please also check out the Hike for Grayson pages for how to help and local promotions in support of the campaign.

Finally, watch Good Day Sacramento next Wednesday, July 12 and see the Kemps take reporter Dave ‘Deuce’ Mason on an early morning hike!

Phew! That’s it…for now. Thank you for being a part of Family Trail Time, and we hope to see you on the trails!

NorCal Families Hike – July 16


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.

Please remember sun safety and water!

No pets allowed.

Photography is encouraged!


Meet at the Visitor’s Center deck at 8 AM.

We will start walking at 8:15 AM. (You can explore the center after the hike.)

We are taking the Lost Slough Wetlands Walk, a one-mile universally-accessible trail offering an up-close view of lush marshes, wetland plants, water-birds, insects, and amphibians.

To join in on the fun, RSVP to Family Trail Time via Facebook!

If interested, stay afterwards and take River Walk Trail, a 3+ mile round trip on raised levees through a variety of habitats, including buttonbush thickets, native grasslands, valley oak riparian forest, cottonwood-willow riparian forest, tule marsh, and valley oak.