If the blistering Central California heat has cranked up your air conditioning bill and roasted your shoulders, it’s time to take some time out of the city. Hiking provides a great opportunity to get in touch with nature, breezy weather and your inner self. And in a summer like this one, one of Sacramento’s highlighting features is its close proximity to cooler forests and oceanside beaches. Awaiting you a mere hour or two away is miles of tranquil nature, the shade of gargantuan Redwood trees and the smell of sea breezes drifting onto hiking trails.
Armstrong Redwoods is only two hours away and located in beautiful Sonoma wine country. The natural reserve boasts 15 miles of hiking trails with the opportunity to find waterfalls and streams. Hikers don’t have to travel far since the hikes begin at the redwoods and, as the trail winds upward, more trees take the stage. The Armstrong forest hosts trees as old as 1400 years and as tall as a football field. Traveler tip: Armstrong Redwoods doesn’t have an entrance fee, but parking costs $8 unless you park in the visitor’s parking or on the road before entering the park.
Point Reyes National Seashore
Point Reyes National Seashore is another option for those looking for ocean views and some of California’s most beautiful ocean cliff landscapes. Without an entrance fee, hikers have a multitude of options with 150 hiking miles to explore. Hiking trails range from a stroll of a half mile to the more laborious yet scenic 8 miles for seasoned hiking aficionados. Trails also lead to the famous Point Reyes Lighthouse and many down to the beach, so bring your swimsuit if you’re brave enough to encounter the chilly ocean water. Also be sure to bring your camera, because by land or by sea, views at Point Reyes are guaranteed to be picture worthy (and don’t be surprised if you spot an elk or two).
Muir Woods National Park
The closest hiking option is the peaceful Muir Woods National Park. Located in Marin County, it’s about and hour and a half from Sacramento and a half hour from San Francisco. Boasting 6 miles of trails within the park and access to miles of trails that wind all the way to the ocean, Muir Woods contains one of the few remaining old growth Redwood forests in the Bay Area. Fog is a frequent visitor of the woods, creating cool weather and vigorous plant growth on the forest floor. It’s a National Park so an entrance fee of $10 is required for people above age 16. After a long hike, relax at Muir Beach, only three miles away (or hike there if you’d really like to earn relaxing rights).
Remember sunscreen, bug spray and your sense of adventure to create the best nature day trip out of Sacramento.
Featured image by Joe Parks/CC Flickr