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Stories from the valley

Cronan Ranch Regional Trails Park

Contributed by Carl Gwyn

As the seasons change and temperatures in the Foothills drop, a wonderful place to enjoy all kinds of outdoor activities is Cronan Ranch Regional Trails Park. Located on Highway 49 near Coloma just 54 minutes from downtown Sacramento, Cronan Ranch offers a wide variety of trails for hikers, bikers, and equestrians.

Being new to the park, my wife and I visited the Cronan Ranch Regional Trails Park website prior to heading out. Here we found an excellent map and historical information.

The spot that caught my wife’s eye was the Movie Set mentioned. I did a little research and discovered that the set was built for one of her favorite movies, Love Comes Softly. Our trip changed from a hike to a pilgrimage.

We started from the trailhead on Pedro Hill Road, about 3.5 miles from Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park. Maps and park information are posted at the various trailheads, and the trails are clearly marked.

Armed with our map, complete with contour lines, we headed out the Long Valley Trail and were immediately impressed with the beauty of the rolling hills and oaken landscape. It didn’t take us long to reach our goal of the Movie Set, where my wife reminisced about scenes from the Hallmark made-for-TV movie filmed there.

After her fangirl experience, we headed further down the trail to the South Fork of the American River and soaked in the peaceful scene. We selected another trail for our return trip, which rewarded us with different views and terrain. We were impressed with the number and variety of the trails. There’s even one that goes all the way to the Salmon Falls trailhead at Folsom Lake! 

My wife and I will make many future trips to Cronan Ranch. The park is well maintained, has river views and access, and offers free admission. The best times of year to visit would be fall, winter, and spring, as the area can get a bit toasty in the summer. Also, make sure you recognize poison oak since it’s present in the park.

Have a wonderful time enjoying this restful resource.