ADT5: Auburn to Sacramento 2012-05

Pioneer Express Trail above Folsom Reservoir
Pioneer Express Trail above Folsom Reservoir

Last May I hiked from Auburn to Sacramento on the American Discovery Trail (ADT – flakey website). I did not post on the trip, and unfortunately did not even have my journal with me, but I did at least take photos. I want to reconstruct the hike because it is part of my long-term goal to walk the entire California section of the ADT.

I took the Capitol Corridor Amtrak train up to Auburn (only one trip a day, not very convenient, but workable), then walked to the trailhead at the Auburn staging area which is the western terminus of the Western States Trail. I dropped down just a short way into the canyon to spend the night, and then continued downstream along the ADT, which is also called the Pioneer Express Trail, and then of course the American River Parkway from Folsom to Sacramento.

Granite Boulders and Buckeye
Granite Boulders and Buckeye

Leaving Auburn, the trail system is confusing, not well marked, but the overall direction, downstream, is clear. The trail is about 2/3 dirt road and 1/3 trail. Since there are trail sections not yet completed, the trail sometimes veers steeply up and then back down on dirt roads, but on the whole it is pleasant walking. The first part is upstream of Folsom Reservoir, but most of the distance is along the shore, which is less natural but can still be pretty, particularly when the trail wanders back from the waters edge. The upper part of the lake looks somewhat like a river, and the powerboats are moving slowly, but the closer one gets to Folsom, the more powerboats there are, the noisier they are, and the faster they are going, so the walk becomes less and less pleasant. As the reservoir widens out, the trail travels long distances in and out of draws to gain only a short distance, but there are still pretty spots. The trail crosses the Folsom side dams and goes to Beals Point campground and picnic area, where it connects with the American River Parkway. The 32 miles along the parkway to Sacramento is one I’ve done many times, bicycling and a few times walking, and though it is always nice, my reason for doing it this trip is to make my walk of the ADT continuous.

This 55 mile section (5) from Auburn to Sacramento is part of the 378 trail miles in California. Since I lived in Carson City for 10 years, I’ve done the Carson City to Nevada state line portion dozens of times. The ADT overlaps with many other named trails, and in only a few places is it signed as the ADT, so many people are not even aware of its existence.

photo set on Flickr

earlier posts:

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