Best Places to Run in Sacramento: A Local’s Essential Guide

Sacramento, the capital city of California, offers a diverse range of running routes for both locals and visitors alike.

With its picturesque landscapes, pleasant weather, and well-maintained trails, it’s no wonder that Runner’s World ranked Sacramento as the fourth top running city in the United States.

One of the city’s most notable attractions for runners is the extensive network of paths along the American River. These scenic trails provide a refreshing and invigorating experience for running enthusiasts.

Additionally, Sacramento features several centrally located parks such as McKinley Park, with its popular Rose Garden and ¾-mile decomposed granite trail around the park. UC Davis also offers appealing running areas around its campus for those looking to explore the educational side of this vibrant urban area.

With a variety of options to choose from, running in Sacramento promises a fantastic experience for individuals of all fitness levels. Just remember to stay hydrated, especially during the hot summer months, and enjoy the natural beauty and dynamic atmosphere that make the city a top destination for running enthusiasts.

Sacramento River Trails

Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail

The Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail, also known as the American River Bike Trail, is a top choice for running enthusiasts in Sacramento. It is a paved, multi-use trail that runs along the American River, offering fantastic views and a refreshing environment for runners.

The trail begins at Discovery Park in downtown Sacramento and stretches for 31 miles, ending at Beal’s Point in Folsom. Its extensive length allows runners to choose different sections according to their preferences or fitness levels.

The Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail is known for its beautiful scenery, featuring refreshing views of the river, lush greenery, and a diverse array of wildlife. Runners can enjoy the tranquil ambiance while getting their daily exercise.

In addition to the impressive views, the trail offers several amenities including:

  • Accessibility for runners, bikers, and walkers
  • Restrooms and water fountains at various points
  • Picnic areas and benches for resting or taking breaks

While the main trail is paved, there is also an option for a dirt/gravel trail closer to the river for those who prefer a more natural running surface.

Runners should be aware that summers in Sacramento can be quite hot, so it is crucial to stay hydrated and plan their runs during cooler parts of the day or use sections of the trail that offer more shade.

American River Trails

Lake Natoma

Lake Natoma is a popular spot for running enthusiasts in Sacramento.

The stretch of the American River that lines this tranquil lake provides picturesque views and serene surroundings, making it an ideal location for a refreshing run.

The Jedediah Smith Trail, also known as the American River Bike Trail, runs along the river and lake, offering a paved and multi-use path for runners.

One of the highlights of this trail is the proximity to the water, allowing for stunning views of the lake and river. The trail extends from Discovery Park in downtown Sacramento to Beal’s Point in Folsom, covering a total distance of 31 miles. This extensive length enables runners to choose their preferred distance and enjoy the lush scenery throughout their run.

Folsom Trails

In addition to the trails around Lake Natoma, Folsom offers a variety of running routes for runners of all levels. One such route is the Ancil Hoffman Park Trail, which provides a 2.84-mile loop around the park and golf course.

This park features ancient oak trees and is bordered on two sides by the American River, contributing to an enchanting and delightful running experience.

Another option for runners in the Folsom area is the Willow Hill Reservoir Community Park. This park has a 2.2-mile trail loop that circles the reservoir, offering lovely views of the water and surrounding wildlife. The trail is a mix of paved and dirt surfaces, catering to a range of running preferences.

To make the most of your running experience in the American River and Folsom Trails, consider the following tips:

  • Make use of maps and websites to aid in navigating the trails and finding access points
  • Plan your runs according to the time of day and weather, as Sacramento summers can be quite hot
  • Be mindful of other trail users, as these trails are multi-use and shared by cyclists and walkers as well

City Parks and Routes

Southside Park

Southside Park is a beautiful place to run for those looking for a green space in the heart of the city. The park features public art and a picturesque pond. Runners can enjoy the paved trails that wind through the park, offering a calm and scenic environment for their exercise routine.

Downtown Sacramento

Exploring Downtown Sacramento on foot is an excellent way to combine running with sightseeing. Runners can start their route at the Capitol Building and continue through the downtown streets.

Besides enjoying the historical architecture, they can also appreciate the public art scattered throughout the area, making their runs both engaging and visually appealing.

Old Sacramento

Old Sacramento provides runners with a unique experience due to its distinct, historic atmosphere. As they navigate the cobblestone streets, they’ll pass by numerous historical buildings, museums, and the famous Sacramento River.

A popular place to start is in Discovery Park, located at the meeting point of the Sacramento and American Rivers, providing beautiful views and ample green space for runners.

Sacramento Zoo

For those looking to escape the urban landscape, the area surrounding the Sacramento Zoo offers a great running route.

The adjacent William Land Park boasts wide, tree-lined paths and multiple ponds, creating a serene setting to enjoy a run.

Additionally, runners could catch glimpses of some of the zoo’s residents while making their way through this park.

Overall, Sacramento offers numerous city parks and routes for runners to explore and enjoy, each providing its unique scenery and charm.

Whether they prefer bustling downtown areas or quiet park settings, there’s a place for everyone to lace up their running shoes and hit the pavement in California’s capital city.

Sacramento State University Area

The area surrounding Sacramento State University offers some beautiful running trails and paths for runners who enjoy a scenic and active environment.

The university itself is an excellent starting point for a running adventure, as it provides various amenities to its visitors.

For those who want to combine the beauty of nature with a challenging and stimulating run, the Guy West Bridge is a great option.

This bridge connects the Campus Commons business park area and University Drive to Sacramento State University. Runners can enjoy the picturesque views and serene atmosphere while they complete their distance.

In addition to the Guy West Bridge, there are numerous running trails and paths around the university. Many students and faculty members take advantage of these trails for daily exercise or training.

Runners can enjoy a mix of terrain and surroundings as they explore different paths that cater to a variety of fitness levels.

Some of the popular running routes around the Sacramento State University area include:

  • The Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail, also known as the American River Bike Trail, stretches along the American River, providing stunning views and a well-maintained path for runners and cyclists alike.
  • The University Arboretum features a lush collection of plants, trees, and flowers, perfect for a relaxing run while enjoying the natural beauty of the campus.

While running in the Sacramento State University area, it’s important to remember to stay hydrated and maintain proper running etiquette, respecting both nature and fellow runners.

With its diverse and picturesque landscape, the Sacramento State University area offers a great running experience for enthusiasts of all levels.

Running Stores and Clubs

Sacramento, California, offers various opportunities for runners to join clubs and find local stores for their running needs.

Among these is the popular Fleet Feet store, which provides a wide range of running shoes, clothes, and gear. The store also organizes running events and training programs for people of all skill levels.

Several running clubs cater to the diverse community of runners in Sacramento. SacFit Running Club is one such organization with structured training programs and experienced coaches.

Sloppy Moose Running Club is another option for those looking for a more casual and social running experience.

The Buffalo Chips Running Club is the largest and oldest running club in the Sacramento area. They offer group runs on Tuesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, and pride themselves on their friendly and inclusive atmosphere.

In addition to running clubs, Sacramento also hosts a variety of running events throughout the year. The Birthday Run is a fun 5k race with lights, lasers, and party hats. The Fro Yo Run in summer offers both 5k and 10k routes along the river, with flat and fast courses designed for scenic views and personal records.

To summarize, Sacramento has a thriving running community with numerous clubs and stores supporting runners of all levels and interests. Whether you prefer structured training or a more laid-back atmosphere, there is something for everyone in this vibrant city.

Annual Races and Events

Sacramento, known as one of the top five fittest cities, hosts a variety of running events throughout the year for enthusiasts to participate in and enjoy. The city provides a wide range of races, such as 5k, 10k, half marathons, and marathons, catering to runners of all levels.

One popular event is the Race for the Arts, an annual multi-day event held in August at William Land Park. This race benefits California nonprofit arts programs. The event includes various distances, making it suitable for participants of all skill levels.

Another notable race in Sacramento is the Folsom Firecracker, taking place on July 4th. Starting and finishing at the Lake Natoma Bike Trails, runners can choose between 5K and 10K distances, celebrating Independence Day with an energetic run.

Though not specifically in Sacramento, nearby San Francisco also hosts many popular races. One well-known race is the San Francisco Marathon that usually takes place in July. With multiple distances available, including a half marathon and a 5k, this race attracts runners from all over the world.

In conclusion, Sacramento and its surrounding areas offer numerous annual running events for runners to participate in and enjoy. These races provide an excellent opportunity for participants to test their skills, compete with others, and explore the beautiful scenery of both Sacramento and the nearby city of San Francisco.

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