Independence Trail – East

IMG_3790Taking the Independence Trail – East trail to where it “ends’ (at what looks like an old service road), the hike is about four to four and 1/2 miles total (out and back). You can continue past the obvious road on some unmaintained trails, but do so at your own risk – there’s lots of poison oak, but I’ve heard there are some paths that lead you to a watering hole or the river.

Why we love it: This trail is simple and beautiful + has the fun feature of lots of wooden footbridges – some quite long! Along the way you’ll be treated to glimpses of the Yuba River far below. About 1.75 miles along, there’s a really nice picnic table area just off to the right of the trail.

For the Young Ones (0-10): This trail is great for families who like to explore and have little hikers who will stay on the trail. Like the West side (see my previous post on that end of the trail here), there are “high” and “low” paths that travel together along the way. I’d recommend you keep the little ones on the low. Pay attention to the recent weather though – sometimes the “low” can get flooded or really muddy.

For the Big Kids (10+): While not a challenging hike, I do think this one is interesting enough to hold the attention of bigger kids. For those that can handle more miles, tack on the 5 miles of the Independence Trail – West trail, for a total of nearly 10 miles of hiking. IMG_E3778

Keep in Mind:

  • Last weekend there were no pesky mosquitos, but when our family did the west side in the summer there were lots. Bring repellant just in case!
  • The parking lot is easy to find by entering “Independence Trail ” into Google Maps (it’s on CA-49), and the official trailhead is for both the East and the West trails – with bathrooms!
  • There’s also an overflow parking lot just past the main lot, which has stairs that go up to the East trail.

Around the Area: Less than a mile northeast of the trailhead, you can take an exit to your right and pull into a big parking lot (on Google Maps, Yuba River swimming hole 49 bridge). Here, you have the opportunity to get out of the car, cross a pedestrian bridge, or go down stairs to the river! I bet in the summer it’s a great way to cool off!

Difficulty Level: Beginner.

Note: These photos are from a women-only hike I organized for February! Find more hikes you can join me on (both women-only and family-friendly) on my Facebook page, Family Trail Time.



Laguna Creek Trail – Whitehouse Creek Trail Loop

IMG_3564Our family is often on the Laguna Creek Trail (see my original post here), and there are lots of places to get on and off of this trail, located in Elk Grove, CA. For this post, I’m focusing on the part of the trail starting at Bond Road, immediately east of the California Family Fitness parking lot (8569 Bond Rd, Elk Grove, CA 95624, Google map here). This loop is just about three miles and is stroller friendly and wheelchair accessible.

Facing the front of the gym, walk to the far right of the building – look for the green dumpsters and playground inside a fence. The trail is immediately to the right. With you’re back to Bond Road, follow Laguna Creek Trail over the bridge to where the trail splits and then go left towards the Whitehouse Creek Trail. A part of this stretch goes through a neighborhood with sidewalks – just keep going straight until you see the a playground/MacDonald Park on your right, and you’ll see where the Whitehouse Creek Trail picks up next to it. Just past the playground, the trail crosses over the creek on your left. Once you’ve crossed over the creek, turn right to continue on the trail.

IMG_3552You will come upon Mix Park on your left, where we usually play on the playground for a bit. Continuing on, the Whitehouse Creek Trail dead ends at Springhurst Drive. Take a right onto the sidewalk to cross over the creek, and then cross W/N Camden Drive to get onto the Camden Greenbelt.This will put you onto a new part of the Laguna Creek Trail. Go straight on the trail until you come to Camden Lake, and then follow the trail to your right (with the lake on your left). Soon you’ll see the bridge on your left that will take you back to the parking lot.

Why we love it: It’s easy. You can see some wildlife (mostly geese, ducks, occasionally a hawk, turtle, or rabbit, etc.) and get in some miles without having to go very far. I love that it’s both stroller friendly and wheelchair accessible.

For the Young Ones (0-10): While the geese along this trail aren’t aggressive (they ignore you or walk away), by the lake you’ll want to watch out for their…ahem..excrement. This “kiddie” hike is great because you can break it up by stopping at one or two playgrounds, which little ones will always appreciate.


For the Big Kids (10+): Unless your big kids are game for a simple family walk, they’ll most likely be bored on this loop.

Keep in Mind:

  • There are no bathrooms along these trails or at the parks. At Mix Park there is at least one trash can, but this may be the only place along the route.
  • Joggers enjoy these trails so make sure to share the trails.
  • Dogs are allowed on these trails, but must be on-leash.

Around the Area: Near California Family Fitness there are lots of places to grab a bite or treat. We usually use the bathrooms wherever we grab something to eat.

Difficulty Level: Beginner.

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.


Darrington Trail


After Dayle’s attempt to find Salmon Falls Loop Trail, I attempted to find it for myself. I was told by one person that there’s a loop when the lake is pretty dried up, but in a good Sacramento winter it’s typically pretty wet in this part of the country. I did see a sign for Salmon Falls on the way to the Darrington Trail parking lot, but I also heard that “Salmon Falls Trail” and “Darrington Trail” are used interchangeably, so that may help explain some of the confusion. In addition, after our hike I saw a post on Hike It Baby that said to do the loop, you start at the Monte Vista Trailhead, so maybe I’ll check that out at some point. (Feel free to comment if you have information further clarifying!)IMG_E3191

Why we love it: This trail is approximately 16 miles long, with a campsite at the 8.5 mile mark. We did approximately 4 miles total, and it was a lovely hike to do in our small group of 2 parents and 2 kiddos. We liked the views of Salmon Falls Bridge, Folsom Lake, that the trail wasn’t all flat but not all at an incline, and most of all – playing in a creek that leads to the lake!

For the Young Ones (0-10): I would not recommend this trail for really little ones, or children who are not experienced hikers. While the trail itself isn’t difficult (aside from a short initial ascent), at times it is narrow with a steep drop-off, and there were many mountain bikers we had to share the trail with…without much trail to share. We did the trail with an experienced seven year-old IMG_3292hiker and a really well-behaved six-year old. They had opportunities to goof around at certain parts of the trail, but understood and responded appropriately when there was any slight safety risk. These two had a blast down at the creek and could have spent hours playing in the water.

For the Big Kids (10+): Big kids and adults looking for a longer hike can enjoy quite a few miles out on this trail. I’d suggest also looking into camping to spend more time in the area!

Keep in Mind:

  • $10 Day Use Fee + remember to keep valuables out of sight! Bring cash and a pen.
  • Packs of mountain bikers may pass you on the trail, but every single one of the bikers was courteous and friendly on our hike! IMG_3233
  • Use the following on your phone’s GPS to get to the trailhead: Darrington Trail Parking Lot, 7288-7296 Salmon Falls Rd, Pilot Hill, CA 95664
  • Cell service is intermittent along the trail, so don’t assume you’ll have a signal.
  • To do about 3 miles roundtrip, turnaround at the signs in the photo on the right.

Around the Area: El Dorado Hills has lots of shops and places to eat, but for this hike we just enjoyed snacks on the trail.

Difficulty Level: Moderate (only because of steep drop-offs and the need to share narrow trails with mountain bikers).


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.