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Stories from the valley

Hiking the Greenwood Creek Trail

Contributed by Carl Gwyn

Located just one hour from Sacramento is the beautiful Greenwood Creek Trail. It’s an all-season trail for hiking, mountain biking, birding, horseback riding, and running that offers a great getaway. Now is still a good time to hike this trail since many trails in the high country are still snowed in, and it’s not too hot. 

Take Highway 49 north from Placerville. The trailhead is located 3.1 miles past the Highway 49/Lotus Road intersection. After parking, I headed out on the well-marked trail that is easily managed by hikers of all ages.

view of a River at Greenwood Creek Trail

Traveling through the mixed oaken forest, I quickly arrived at the American River. A really nice feature of this trail is that it follows the river for most of its distance. It was wonderful to saunter along and enjoy the relaxing sound of rushing water.

After a little over two miles, I arrived at the trail’s end at a broad beach on the river. Here was an excellent opportunity to spend some time at the water’s edge and relax a bit before starting the trip back.

For the return trip, there are a couple of options. While being described as an out-and-back trail, you can continue a bit farther on a connecting trail and intersect the Gerle Loop Trail. I took that route back for a very enjoyable round trip of about 4.5 miles. If you’re more adventurous, you can take the Gerle Loop Trail to connect with the Cronan Ranch Trail system and add several miles to your trek.

cyclists on Greenwood Creek Trail

I found this trail absolutely delightful and saw several other folks enjoying it as well. The wide-open space allows you to get your outdoor fix while observing social distancing. 

For more information, please follow this link. If you take the trail in the summer, it can get a bit toasty. Remember to bring a hat and some water, and be on the lookout for poison oak.


Have a great time hiking in the Sierra foothills.