Winter isn’t typically considered the peak season for outdoor activities such as hiking, but in Northern California, it’s one of the best times to get outside for some fresh air and exercise. This is especially true of snow-free areas such as Yolo County, which are accessible just about any time of year. Winter means fewer crowds, mild weather, unique landscapes and plenty of opportunities for wildlife viewing and bird watching.
Although Northern California had been besieged by atmospheric rivers the first few weeks of January, the rain is on hold for the time being. That means now is the time to take advantage of the sunny skies and hit the trails. You don’t have to be in peak condition to conquer the trails of Yolo County; many are perfect for beginners as well. From Davis to West Sacramento to Winters, there are several easy hiking and walking trails to explore. Some are paved, some are dog-friendly, and all provide an insider’s view of bucolic country landscapes. Best of all, if you want to extend your getaway, you can take advantage of Yolo County Hotel Deals. Following are some of the best easy hiking and walking trails in Yolo County.
Accessed in downtown Davis, this mellow waterside trail winds its way through demonstration gardens featuring plants, trees and flowers from California and beyond. The main path stretches about 3.5 miles with various loops, so you can do as much or as little as you like. Along the way, signage identifies the various collections, which include native plants, a redwood grove and a desert collection.
Also operated by UC Davis, this 640-acre expanse hugs the northern banks of Putah Creek. It is a natural riparian and grassland ecosystem with numerous hiking and walking trails to explore. Access points feature parking areas, and some have restrooms and picnic tables.
This easy loop trail in north Davis clocks in at about 3.5 miles and connects various neighborhood parks. The trail is paved and flat, making it ideal for wheelchair users or stroller-pushers. There are grassy areas, a duck pond and sculptures throughout, and dogs are welcome.
Stretching from Broderick to the Bridge District (home of Franquette), West Sacramento’s River Walk is a scenic trail that hugs the edge of the Sacramento River. It’s only about three miles long, but it offers spectacular views of the water, Old Sacramento and the Tower Bridge. Along the way is River Walk Park, which has picnic areas and art installations.
One of the most unique trails in Yolo County, the Barge Canal Trail lines the man-made waterway serving the Port of West Sacramento. At just over 6.5 miles, the trail offers views of the port itself and the ships docked there. It’s also a great trail for bird watching and wildlife viewing.
The Putah Creek area has numerous access points for all types of recreation, including picnicking, fishing, and swimming. Along the creek are several rural hiking and walking trails that offer views of the water and opportunities for wildlife viewing. Several roadside parking areas are available and there’s even an accessible pathway. There’s also access in Winters proper, with a dog-friendly walking path snaking beneath the old bridge.
Located on lower Cache Creek near Capay, Capay Open Space Park comprises 41 acres of scenic countryside. In addition to providing water access, it also has more than two miles of walking trails that wend their way through the oak-dotted grasslands and riparian habitat.
This out-and-back trail is actually a fire road that cuts through private land near the town of Guinda. It is a public access road that offers spectacular views of Pierce Canyon, including steep cliffs, a creek and oak trees. The best view of the falls is about three miles in, which is a good point to turn around and head back.
No talk of Yolo County trails is complete without mention of the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, which includes portions of West Sacramento and Davis. In the heart of the Pacific Flyway, its trails are popular among bird watchers. That said, the area closes during periods of flooding check the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area website for the latest updates and docent tours.
Whether you’re a bird watcher, a nature lover, or just need to get the heart pumping after weeks of being cooped up indoors, Yolo County has plenty of trails where you can get some fresh air. Take advantage of the break in the rain and consider an easy, mellow walk. Or, plan an overnight adventure and check out the many lodging specials in Yolo County this winter.
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