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Run the Parkway!

There are dirt/decomposed granite paths alongside much of the paved Parkway Trail.

The American River Parkway (also known as the Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail) is a paved, 32-mile long, multi-use trail along the beautiful American River.

It starts at Discovery Park (Downtown) and ends at Beals Point, part of the Folsom Lake Recreation Area.  It is a local treasure and helps make Sacramento a terrific place to live and run.   There are drinking fountains and toilets at most parks along the trail.

Downstream of Hazel Avenue, the Parkway is part of the Sacramento County Park System, and from Hazel Avenue up to Folsom Lake, it is part of the California State Parks.

Reasonably accurate mile marks are painted on the center of the paved trail, starting with “0” at Discovery Park and ending with “31” on the climb up to Beals Point.  Astute observers will note there are two “0” mile marks in Discovery Park, but the real one is almost directly underneath the I-5 overpass.

There are wonderful dirt trails running along much of the paved Parkway trail.  Runners are welcome, but horses have the right of way on these trails.  Bikes are not allowed on the unpaved trails, but watch out because people still ride on them.  Use caution in isolated areas–run with a buddy.

Rules of the Road: There are rules and they generally boil down to: share the road, pay attention, and don’t be a jerk.  There is plenty of room for everyone.  Runners need to keep to the left and run on the shoulder where safe.  Bikers should ride single file and not too-fast.  If you want to ride your bike super fast, then take it out on the street.  If you must use headphones, keep the volume low enough so you can hear the folks around you.  If you want to be out there with your dog, keep it on a short leash.  Even your harmless pooch can seriously injure someone by tripping them.

Is it Safe?: While there are occasional serious crimes along the parkway, it is safely used by hundreds of locals every day.  Of course, you should always run with a partner and pay attention to your surroundings.  (Remember the headphones?)  Vehicle break-ins are common in nearby parking areas so do not leave your wallet 0r other valuables in your car.   There are multiple call boxes along the trail, but don’t hesitate to borrow a cell phone from a passing cyclist!  The number for the County Parks Rangers is (916) 875-7275 (875-PARK ) and the State Parks Rangers can be reached at (916) 988-7322.  (Tip: Put these numbers in your cell phone right now!)

Are there Wild Animals: Yes.  Wildlife abounds along this scenic trail.  Deer, coyote, jack rabbits, cottontails, wild turkey, skunks, opossum, waterfowl, birds of prey, and many species of snakes (including rattlers) are common.  Less common but occasionally reported are cougar, beaver, and river otters.  Rattlesnakes are regularly seen on the trail, especially in the evening as they seek out heat by lying on the asphalt.  They will generally leave you alone if you go around them, but may bite if stepped on, picked up, or ridden over.  (Don’t do this.)  Seek immediate medical attention if you are bitten by any animal on the parkway.

Support the Parks: Although there are numerous points along the Parkway where you can park for free and run into the park, you should support Sacramento County and State of California Parks by purchasing annual parking passes.

Start Running!

 

7 Comments to “Run the Parkway!”


  1. What’s with the mileage marking controversy around mile 9? After the City (County?) repaved it, a 9 was painted on the ground. Since then, another will pop up with spray paint, only to be “blacked out” by more spray paint, ostensibly someone with a different idea of where the mile actually ends. Then another, and another. THis morning, I counted 5 different “9s” on the ground, all within about 100 feet of each other.

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  2. reed breuer says:

    i always run halfway in between them. the two 9s are about 40 feet apart, so at least i am only 20 feet off in either direction. next time i ride my bike i will see which is better, riding exclusively on the center line to be accurate.

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  3. The trail is only designed for bikers. I’m a runner and go the trail once a week and I have several times been ran down by a biker. “share” the trail means let everyone including parents with kids enjoy the fabulous trail.

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    • We were ran over this sunday by a old man my girlfriend now has a concussion……and wast told to get on the dirt by the guy…

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  4. I have lived in Sacramento almost my entire life but did not really discover the rec trail until I started running about 12 years ago. I live about 2 miles from either the 10 mile marker or the 13.5 mile marker. I would not live any where else that did not provide similar access. The trail is wonderful despite some warts: rude bikers, rude runners/walkers (yes, they are out there) snakes and during the winter, high water. It is kinda dodgey between Discovery Park out to 6 mile mark or so but you have to be cautious damn near any where you go. I quit my Runner’s World subscription when they snubbed to Parkway in it’s Best Places To Run issue!

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  5. As a biker who rides 7 days a week, 365 days a year, I have noticed that 99% of bikers and runners on the trail are not rude. But it is consistently that same 1% group who refuse to follow the rules. “Walkers and joggers use the shoulder.” When someone says, “On your left!” That means move to your right, not ignore them. Finally, the trail is only wide enough for groups of cyclists or runners to move in two single file lines on each side, not a line of 4-9 people across. Paying attention and realizing that there are others on the trail will provide for a pleasant experience.

    7


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