Folsom Prison Blues

Three years ago this month, Jeff and I biked 40+ miles on the paved Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail. We started in Sacramento’s Old Town and rode east until we decided to turn around. The trail actually goes all the way to its nominal end at Folsom Lake (although other trails continue onward) for a total of roughly 32 miles one way. For the first 20 or 25 miles, the trail has only one or two stop signs, so it’s clear sailing on good pavement through flat terrain. This time of year it’s usually about 100 degrees F in and around Sacramento. When I saw the forecast for today only called for the low to mid-80s, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to ride the whole trail out and back.

The exact route and nomenclature of the trail system remains somewhat confusing to me. Sometimes it’s called the Jedediah Smith Trail. Sometimes the American River Trail or American River Bikeway. It forks in several places, and two entirely separate trails, apparently with the same name, parallel each other on opposite sides of the river from Hazel Avenue toward the lake. And the new Johnny Cash Trail seems to be a closely related but separate part of the system. After some not entirely helpful research, most of the route looked straightforward enough (which is what I remembered from the ride with Jeff) but the best approach to the unexplored eastern end remained a mystery. Naturally, I figured I could just wing it.

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They call me Old Grumble-Face. I have no idea why they do that....

7 response to "Folsom Prison Blues"

  1. By: The Navigator Posted: June 18, 2018

    Wow – 1000 cyclists! Cyclists sneaking through a hole in the fence, dead-ends and close proximity to a famous prison! Your ride had it all, except one of Keith’s gourmet lunches. Did you go for a dip in the river to cool down at any point? It did look like a very nice day.

    • By: Bill Stone Posted: June 18, 2018

      No dip in the river for me, but I bet your team would have insisted on a little rafting.

  2. By: Tony Cullimore Posted: June 18, 2018

    1,000 – I don’t think there are 1,000 frequent cyclists in Tasmania!! Those trails are certainly popular. Glad you worked out the way of it all and had a good ride Bill.

  3. By: Rich-Illinois Posted: June 18, 2018

    Nice ride and great photos.
    Sounds like a great day for the ride weather wise — its in the 90’s and dew points off the chart here. 🙁 Im sure you remember those days in Illinois.
    After just 32 miles on the KRT ride, we sure didnt want to reverse and do it again — 70 miles is very impressive!

    • By: Bill Stone Posted: June 18, 2018

      Rich, 70 miles in the kind of weather that makes corn grow 12 inches in a single day is a whole ‘nother kettle of fish!

  4. By: Bill Stone Posted: June 18, 2018

    Yep, lots of cyclists. I’m just guessing at 1000. Really no idea. But 1000 cyclists divided by 70 miles is only approx 14 cyclists per mile on average, so probably not an unreasonable estimate. I probably spotted close to a hundred bikes on the adjacent trail just while I was in the parking lot getting ready to ride. I saw lots of roadies, a few mountain bikes, some dusty clunkers, “comfort bikes” with cushy saddles, electric fat bikes, tandems, recumbents, recumbent tandems, little kids with training wheels, but (surprisingly, because the trail is part of the ACA Western Express route) no obvious long-distance tourers. I did spot a couple on Surly Disc Truckers with racks and trekking bars but no panniers, and I rode with and talked to them for awhile. I was passed by a fully-enclosed recumbent — all I could see was the top of the guy’s helmet — that flew by me and zoomed up the trail like a rocket. In some places it looked like a massive bicycle parade, but it was just a beautiful day on a long, popular urban bike path along the river, making the city seem miles away. The cities and counties that host the path really have something to be proud of, and I should get over there (about a two hour drive) more often.

    Here’s the best map and info I could find, although it’s several years old and doesn’t include the newest infrastructure, like the Johnny Cash Trail: http://arpf.org/pdf_files/ARPmap.pdf

  5. By: Alchemyrider Posted: June 19, 2018

    I’ve done that Sac Old Town to Folsom Lake ride. Lovely.

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