Outside with Charlie: More options

By From page B3 | April 12, 2011


This is the second column about what to do for recreation at the end of winter if you’ve run out of lift ticket money and enthusiasm.

Bike riding is one option. The El Dorado Trail is in our back yard but isn’t the only place to ride — and riding isn’t the only thing to do.

The American River Bike Trail runs from Discovery Park in Sacramento to Beals Point at Folsom Lake. There are several places to access this very nice trail system.

The major difference between the El Dorado and American River trails is that the latter is pretty flat. There are a couple of short climbs but they are more fun than work. If you’ve never been on the trail you can pick up a free map at Bicycles Plus in Folsom. You can also get on the trail from there.

We’ve ridden the trail for years and always find it a great ride. If you are adventuresome, there are paved bike trails all over Folsom. The Humbug-Willow Creek trail connects, in a roundabout way, with the American River Bike Trail. Both are suitable for road or mountain bikes.

You can tailor your ride for whatever time frame or miles you’d like to put in. Like the El Dorado Trail, it’s a multi-use trail for walkers, riders and runners.

If riding isn’t your cup of tea, walking is another option. The trails cover a lot of urban woodland areas so take a camera along.

Critters that live near the trails sometimes make appearances, and the flora and fauna are quite nice. The trail borders the shore of Lake Natoma in Folsom and follows the American River if you head toward Sacramento.

Another winter activity is kayaking or canoeing. Nearby lakes include Lake Tahoe, Jenkinson, Folsom and Natoma. The primary difference between them is temperature, both in and out of the water. That’s obvious, but still important to point out.

Both the lake and the air temperature is colder at Lake Tahoe, especially in winter and spring. It is possible to launch at Lake Tahoe during winter months at limited places even when there is snow on the ground. You have to choose your day carefully and I think a dry suit is a necessity. Kayak and canoe bottoms aren’t insulated so your own bottom could get a bit chilled while you paddle about. Caution during cold seasons is greatly advised.

Jenkinson Lake at Sly Park is not as cold and is easier to reach. Launching from the boat ramp is your only choice. It’s the only area where snow is removed from the road. Dry suits are recommended.

Folsom and Natoma are also easy to get to. Both the air and the water temperatures are generally warmer. There are lots of nooks and crannies to explore at both lakes.

Safety should be at the top of your list. Always wear a properly fitted personal flotation device. We used to call these life vests. Wear appropriate clothing for a cold day on the water. Check the weather prior to heading out. If things look too choppy or windy when you arrive, wait for a calmer day.

If none of the above suggestions inspire you, perhaps a stroll in Placerville beckons. Head to Sacramento for a tour of art galleries, or a trip to the newly renovated Crocker Museum. Above all, enjoy whatever you decide to do.


Charlie Ferris

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