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.