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In the 19th century, thousands of Forty-Niners passed through Sacramento on their way to California’s gold fields. Today, visitors can explore those former haunts in the Old Sacramento Waterfront District from the Sacramento River Parkway Trail.
The 9.3-mile trail hugs the levees on the eastern bank of the Sacramento River as it rolls south from that river’s confluence with the American River. It links to both the American River Bike Trail and the Two Rivers Trail in the north. After a 2-mile interruption through the Pocket neighborhood, it resumes for about 3 miles to its endpoint at a sports complex in the Freeport neighborhood.
Development of the trail began in the mid-1970s. It’s the northernmost segment of the Great California Delta Trail, which was envisioned as a corridor along the California Delta that will join the San Francisco Bay Trail system.
The paved trail starts at the base of the Jibboom Street bridge at Tiscornia Park, where the American River flows into the Sacramento. More parking and facilities are available across the bridge at Discovery Park.
Heading south for about a mile atop a levee built to protect Sacramento from flooding, you’ll arrive at the old railyards, once the largest in the west. The vintage rolling stock here indicates your arrival in Old Sacramento. Here, you’ll find the California State Railroad Museum, which houses many restored locomotives and cars, as well as a historic depot. Nearby, you can take a short excursion on the Sacramento Southern Railroad, a tourist train that once carried freight and passengers in the early 20th century.
The parkway’s river walk through Old Sacramento can get crowded with tourists hopping in and out of shops, restaurants, and bars. An alternative is Front Street, which is wider but paved with cobblestones and just as busy. The trail gets more manageable after you pass Capitol Mall/CA 275 at the iconic Tower Bridge.
South of the bridge, the trail is wedged between the excursion train tracks and the river. About 1.5 miles past the Tower Bridge, you’ll pass a marina and launch ramp in shady Miller Regional Park.
There are more parks along the trail for the next 4 miles to the community of Pocket, named for the semicircular bend in the river. Access to the levee is broken here, but plans are underway to upgrade the levee to a trail after property is acquired. Until that happens, take Clipper Way south to Riverside Boulevard, and turn right to continue on Riverside (it becomes Pocket Road) about 3.7 miles to Garcia Bend Park to rejoin the trail. You’ll reach the end of the trail in 3 miles at the Bill Conlin Sports Complex in Freeport.
Unless you’re familiar with the area, check the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website before you go for possible levee closings due to construction.
Parking for the Sacramento River Parkway Trail is available at its northern end at Tiscornia Park (195 Jibboom St). (Note that a small entrance fee is charged here.) If you’re traveling on Jibboom St. from the north, you’ll turn left across from the trail to exit into the parking lot. If you are traveling from the south, you’ll turn right into the exit.
Additional parking can be found at Garcia Bend Park (7654 Pocket Rd, between Roberts River Way and Windbridge Dr), off Riverside Boulevard (between Rio Viale Ct and 35th Ave), off Captains Table Road (1000 Captains Table Rd, 0.2 mile north of Riverside Blvd), at Miller Regional Park (2706 Ramp Way), at Robert T Matsui Waterfront Park (Jibboom St., 0.2 mile north of Railyards Blvd), and at Bill Conlin Youth Sports Complex (7895 Freeport Blvd).
Old Sacramento has several parking garages and metered parking on-street. On-street, metered parking can be found on Front Street between L Street and J Street.
Visit the TrailLink map for all options, available transit lines, and detailed directions.
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