Imagine a bike ride along a majestic green river, with lush ravines and overhanging oak trees stretching for sunlight over the water. The American River Parkway is just that to those living in Sacramento and neighboring suburbs.
With multiple access points, both walking and biking, there really is no bad place to enter. This particular entrance starts you off with a delicious tease of a breeze from the nearby Blue Diamond Almond factory, which offers some incentive to return for the ride back.
From there the bike path follows the American River, a 120-mile stretch from the Sierra Nevada to the Sacramento River confluence.
The ride passes through open meadows and cherry blossom trees, which bloom in springtime, and keeps you in stride with a rich variety of wildlife such as blacktail deer, wildcats, wild turkeys, cranes, herons, and much more. Keep your eyes peeled for sunbathing rattlesnakes during the summer months. Just like humans, they need their vitamin D!
Most of the trail’s earliest inhabitants are no longer seen. The Nisenan Native American tribe originally settled in this area approximately 1,500 years before their first contact with European explorers in the late 1500s. Along these rivers they raised families, held village gatherings in earth and tule roof huts, hunted the fields and fished the river’s nooks, all the while trading goods with neighboring tribes. It was their livelihood. Now, the California State Indian Museum and a variety of other local organizations help service and preserve the community and culture of the area's remaining Native American population.
A bike ride along this river ultimately offers its explorers a taste of human history, solitude from the city, and the beginning of a getaway into the Sierra Nevada.