Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge
When you visit or live in Elk Grove, you have easy access to both suburban convenience and the great outdoors. A 20-minute drive from Elk Grove, the Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge encompasses 18,000 acres of protected land in the southern part of the county. It is one of the few urban refuges in Sacramento County and is home to many migratory bird species.
Most Popular Hiking Area: The Blue Heron Trails are paved, easy walking loops within the restored wetlands and upland habitat of the refuge. These family-friendly and wheelchair-accessible trails offer wonderful opportunities for environmental education, birding, and light exercise, but please leave your furry friend at home.
Cosumnes River Preserve
Also about a 20-minute drive from Elk Grove, the Cosumnes River Preserve offers several miles of pristine hiking trails. It is home to more than 250 bird species, 40 fish species, and 400+ plant species and is a great place to observe vernal pool grasslands and wetland habitat. A half-mile round-trip stretch of ADA-accessible boardwalk meanders through wetlands, with rest stops along the way and a viewing platform at the end. Please note that dogs are not allowed at the preserve, leashed or otherwise.
Most Popular Hiking Trails in Cosumnes River Preserve
River Walk Trail: This 3-mile round trip trail is on raised levees and traverses several different habitats, including buttonbush thickets, native grasslands, valley oak riparian forest, cottonwood-willow riparian forest, tule marsh, and valley oak savannah. In the winter months, this trail is often totally inundated by floodwaters as a result of the natural flood cycle.
Lost Slough Wetlands Walk Trail: This is a flat and mostly exposed paved trail offering a close-up look at wetland vegetation and wildlife. It includes the ADA-accessible boardwalk.
Howard Ranch Trail: This 7-mile out-and-back trail starts at the Rancho Seco Recreational Area, winding through seasonal wetlands and riparian and marsh habitat with striking views of oak woodland habitat and the majestic Sierra Nevada Mountains. The trail is open from 7AM to 6PM and there is a $12 charge per vehicle. Specific information about this trail is available at Howard Ranch Information.
For more information on all trails in Cosumnes River Preserve, click here.
Del Meyer Park
Del Meyer Park is an easy access point for hiking and biking trails along Laguna Creek. From the park, hikers can access the Elk Grove Laguna Creek Trail, a 5 km out-and-back along the river. This trail is wheelchair accessible and kid friendly. You can bring your dog, too, but all furry friends must be leashed.
Visitors and residents alike enjoy Camden Park’s grassy areas, walking trails, and lake with a small island.
Most Popular Hiking Trails
Elk Grove Community Trail: This is an 8.7 km, easy, out-and-back family-friendly hike. Dogs must be on a leash.
Camden Park Loop Trail: This is a 5 km family-friendly, moderately trafficked loop in a residential area by the lake. Large trees provide generous amounts of shade, and benches offer spots for resting and contemplation. The trail is popular with runners, walkers, and bikers. Dogs are welcome but must be leashed.
For more information on hiking in Camden Park, click here.
Folsom Lake State Recreation Area
The 19,564-acre Folsom Lake State Recreation Area is a 45-minute drive from Elk Grove. The park is in the Sierra Nevada foothills and encompasses Folsom Lake, the ninth largest reservoir in California. The lake and recreation area offer many opportunities for outdoor recreation, including hiking, biking, running, camping, picnicking, horseback riding, water-skiing, and boating. Hikers will find a wide range of trails, from easy strolls to strenuous all-day adventures.
Most Popular Hiking Trails in Folsom Lake State Recreation Area
Oaks Nature Trail: This trail is just under a mile, accessible, and suitable for all fitness levels. It travels through oak woodland and creekside habitats with lake shore views and opportunities to see deer, fox, wild turkeys and various reptiles.
Johnny Cash Trail is a 10.1 kilometer heavily trafficked loop trail that is suitable for all skill levels. The trail is used for walking, running, and road biking and is accessible year-round. Dogs must be kept on leash. There are plans to install 8 larger-than-life public art pieces to tell the story of Johnny Cash, his connection to Folsom Prison, and his epic musical career.
Lake Natoma River Trail is an 18.5 kilometer heavily trafficked loop trail suitable for all skill levels, with mostly smooth surfaces and a gentle grade and unpaved trails that parallel the main route.
Darrington Trail: This is a more difficult single-track trail with 800 feet of elevation gain. It is a mostly exposed, rugged trail with beautiful scenery and opportunities to see wildlife and abundant wildflowers in season.
There are many other trails to explore in Folsom State Recreation Area. For more top trails, click here.
Nearby National Forests & Parks
If you are in the mood for a road trip, go explore some of California’s most famous wilderness areas. These are the iconic places that have mesmerized travelers and outdoor lovers for decades, including the country’s most famous naturalist, John Muir.
Only about a 2-hour drive northwest from Elk Grove, Lake Tahoe and the Tahoe National Forest boast jaw-dropping views and 100s of hikes, ranging from easy to insanely difficult. Read about top Lake Tahoe hikes here. Please note that some Tahoe area hiking trails may be inaccessible during the winter months due to snow.
Drive about 2.5 hours southwest from Elk Grove to reach the towering granite crags and domes of Yosemite National Park. HIkers and climbers can spend years exploring the terrain here, and some actually do, sleeping in vans at night and climbing all day long. For information on day hikes in Yosemite National Park, click here. Again, hiking in this area may be more limited during the winter months, depending on weather conditions.
More Outdoor Recreational Opportunities In and Near Elk Grove
Dog Parks in Elk Grove
Harness… check. Leash… check. Keys… check. It’s time for a W-A-L-K at the DOG PARK! Cue enthusiastic tail wagging, overly excited barking, maybe even a little running in circles.
If you appreciate the outdoors, northern California is a dream come true. It has a bit of everything: rugged mountains and coastlines, vineyard-draped foothills, turquoise lakes, and otherworldly forests as well as marshes, wetlands, and riparian habitats.
Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge
1624 Hood Franklin Rd. Elk Grove, California 95757 (916) 775-4421 Website
Cosumnes River Preserve
13501 Franklin Blvd. Galt, California 95632 (916) 405-5600 Website