Tips for Safely Enjoying Folsom Lakes and Trails


trail walk loan tree

Among the amazing amenities that make Folsom a great place to live, are miles of trails.

From the paved American River Parkway and Johnny Cash trails to the dirt paths around Folsom Lake, exploring these trails rewards visitors with natural beauty, scenic overlooks, historic sites, and bridges over creeks and ravines.

Some trails are flat and easily accessible, while others require a bit of a hike.

The trails typically see more activity after the winter rains subside, but were getting even more use since the state designated outdoor exercise as an ‘essential’ activity, during the ‘stay home’ order.

As we gradually get back to some sort of normalcy, I expect that outdoor activity may see an overall increase, as people want to get out and enjoy life again, while attempting to stay away from crowded indoor spaces.

trail walk dirt path to lake

I’ve been out there myself, enjoying a jog, or a sunset walk with my wife, and based on my experience and observations, I’ve got a few tips for maximum enjoyment and safety.

trail walk mormon island dam

Keep your distance

Some of the trails are fairly wide, making it easy to keep a safe distance from other trail users. Others are narrower, and it is a good idea to step aside and let someone pass, in order to maintain the recommended 6 ft space.

Should you were a mask?

The jury seems to be out on that one. You can find a variety of articles on the subject, but I think most say that if you are going to a public, enclosed space such as a supermarket, yes, but while exercising on trails, they aren’t necessary as long as you practice social distancing.

trail walk Johnny cash trail 2

Walk left, ride right 

This rule often confuses people, because on the streets traffic stays on the right side of the road. This isn’t the case on our bike trails. If you walk on your left, and the cyclists ride on their right, you will occupy the same lane, facing each other. This allows each to move out of the way (walkers stay left), and eliminates the most common cause of accidents on trails, the walker stepping into the path of a rider coming up behind them.
Despite the rules, it happens frequently, as some walkers don’t realize the rule or refuse to obey it. Please do. It’s for your own safety.

Riders, wear a helmet!

If you’re on a bike, you must wear a helmet. With the dangers of people walking into your path, or you hitting a rock or stick, or maybe you decide to go off the trail, accidents can and do happen.

I have a friend who lives in the Historic District. He was going to go out for an errand on his bike. He was going to ride without a helmet. ‘I’m just going a few blocks’ he said. His wife insisted, he complied, and a few minutes later, he hit a curb and fell, striking his head on the pavement, but was saved by that helmet.

Watch out for Poison Oak
Be careful, these trails cut along groves and through hills just full of poison oak. Learn to spot it, and stay away.

Beware of Rattlers
Rattlesnake sightings are rare, but I wouldn’t go turning over rocks or poking around in the brush. This is their habitat.

They are particularly active in the evening. Wear some repellant.

If you bring a dog

Dogs are welcome on the trails, but there are some things to be aware of:

They must be on a leash and within your control. A frequent cause of accidents or conflict is the unleashed or loosely controlled dog that runs or jumps at a jogger or cyclist. We don’t know if the dog is friendly or not and regardless, it can be an unwanted interruption. I actually witnessed someone (ok, it was me), trip and fall in the middle of a run when a friendly dog lunged because he wanted to play. Also, keep the leash short enough that you can prevent the dog from stretching it across the trail to check something out on the other side, creating a hazard for cyclists.

And please clean up after your dog. Nothing ruins a good walk or ride like running into dog poo

Don’t let them stick their noses into brush or under rocks. It’s a good way to get snakebit.

Be aware of your surroundings

Stepping into a gopher hole, uneven ground, rocks, and animal poop can cause you to twist an ankle and ruin your hike.

Leave no trace!

Leave nothing behind but footprints.

By taking these precautions, you protect yourself and others, while enjoying some of the natural beauty that surrounds us on Folsom trails.