The Lake Natoma Loop Trail arises just southwest of the Nimbus Dam on Natoma Lake near the Folsom Lake State Recreational Area, and travels along the lakeside to the Folsom-Auburn Bridge, where it turns south to return to the trailhead. The scenic lake is the focus throughout the hike, as you walk through densely forested sections of oak, cross Willow and Alder Creeks on their wooden bridges, and marvel at the views of the Sierra foothills. If the adventure itch hits you and your fur-pup, there are several small offshoot trails that allow you to explore the area in and around the lake in greater depth, including paths that take you to the water's edge for a refreshing splash.
Wildlife is visible throughout the lake's wetlands, including geese, otters, ducks and deer, along with coyotes, snakes, turkeys and bald eagles. Some portions of the path are overgrown, and you're likely to meet some small mammals or amphibians here as well. A rockslide obstructs part of the trail, but the ease of going over or around it is evidenced by the many foot and bike tire prints doing just that. Picnic tables dot the route, and are pawrfect for a nice snack or lunch overlooking the serene lake. Restrooms and water fountains are scattered along the way, too.
This trail is separate from, but connects with the American River Bike Trail, and there are plans to extend it further north in the future as well. Many small rises on the southeast side of the lake get your heart pumping, as the trail winds through piles of river rock, and a walk along the bluffs on the northwest side are best walked early in the morning to avoid the intense exposure to the sun it features later in the day. Early spring, from March to May, is the best time to hike this trail, when the foliage is green, the wildflowers are in bloom and the air is cool and dry.
Whether you and your fur-baby live in the Sacramento area or are visiting, this fairly easy loop trail in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the city will provide a chance to get away and enjoy the scenic nature so abundant here.
This trail has a heavy presence of ticks and poison oak. Long pants and sleeves discourage both, but the trail can be hot, so be sure to bring tick repellant and do not wander off the path. Be aware that on the paved side of this trail, bicyclists have the right-of-way, so keep on the left shoulder. Also, the pavement can get very hot - doggy boots are a must.