Rolling on California’s American River Parkway

Rolling from downtown Sacramento to Folsom, CA, the American River Parkway trail, or the Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail, covers 32 miles and makes a great choice for a bike overnight.

Bicycle Adventurer: Eric Buell

When: July 12–13, 2016

Accommodations: Beals Point Campground (open year round) at the Folsom Lake State Recreation Area.

Distance: Eric rode out and back for a total of 66 miles over two days.

Another Map: In addition to the Google map below, here's a great map of the American River Parkway as a .pdf file

Bonus tip for this adventure: 

  • Great ride along a bike path.
  • The whole path is within the American River Parkway.
  • This park preserves the natural area around the Lower American River

Day One

I hit the paved American River Bike trail early and followed the American River northwest toward Folsom Lake, 32 miles away. It was a really nice ride along the river. I took my time and stopped just to enjoy this protected natural resource. I found the trail mostly flat until I got to Folsom: the last couple miles of the trail involve some climbing. 

Once I set up camp, I was hungry and rode down to Folsom for a bite. Once back at camp, I grabbed my camera and hiked along the lake until sunset. I got some great sunset photos of the lake. And at this point, I was pretty tired, so I went to bed pretty early.

Day Two

I got up early, around 5:00 am, and rode down to the 7-Eleven store for coffee and breakfast. I then rode up to the Oak Shores area on Folsom Lake to explore. Oak Shores is a really nice shore access and picnic spot. I locked up the bike and explored some of the hiking trails in this area. After about an hour, I rode back down to the campsite and packed up. My ride down toward Sacramento was much easier and I didn't stop as much, as I was trying to beat the heat.

It was a great trip and now I am hooked on bike camping!

Your favorite local bike shop? Practical Cycle, “A bike shop for the rest of us.” 114 J St, Sacramento, CA 95814

Bike overnight tips and tricks? 

This is a great trip for beginners:

  • No traffic to compete with.
  • Plenty of bike shops along the way.
  • And less than a mile away from the campsite, you'll find restaurants and convenience stores so you won’t have to worry about cooking.


HOW ABOUT YOU? Inspire others by submitting your own bike overnight adventure!

3 responses so far ↓

George Solomon - Oct 16, 2016 at 2:06 PM

Hello There,

Nice writeup on your overnight trip. I would like to try your trip to test out some equipment and mostly to have fun. However, I would be driving from Monterey. Are there safe places to park overnight?

George S

Gary Amado - Dec 7, 2016 at 3:24 PM

The park area at the beginning of the trail is not a safe place to park overnight. But within a short riding distance of there near downtown Sacramento are a couple of motel/hotels that should be safe in their parking lots. You might ask for permission.

James - Dec 16, 2016 at 10:28 AM

Avoid the trailhead parking by riding Amtrak or Sac RT (light rail or bus) to train station near trail head

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