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Hiking and Biking in Northern California: Hit the Trails
Love to go hiking and biking? You’re in luck. Hundreds of miles of scenic trails weave their way across Northern California, traveling through lush forests, cool valleys, and coastal parks. From famous long-distance treks like the Pacific Crest Trail and the John Muir Trail to quick walks to waterfalls and redwoods, the trails here are as diverse as California itself.
Cross through three wilderness areas on the High Rock Canyon Emigrant Trails and enjoy dramatic canyon scenery. Nearby you can go with the flow on the Sacramento River Rail Trail and find your way to beautiful Shasta Lake. Another great rail trail is the Bizz Johnson National Recreation Trail, which features stunning views of the Cascade Mountains and Susan River Canyon. More epic scenery awaits on the Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail, which cradles the coast from Castroville to Pacific Grove. For hikers and bikers, Northern California is a thrilling place to explore. Get up close and personal the region’s endlessly amazing trails.
Bizz Johnson Trailhead
Starting at the Susanville Railroad Depot, the Bizz Johnson Trail is located in northern California’s Shasta Cascades in the city of Susanville. Set along 16 miles of the Susan River, the trail follows former Southern Pacific Railroad lines.
Stretching 25.4 miles, the Bizz Johnson Trail traces the Fernley and Lassen Branch railroad lines connecting Mason Station to the Susanville Railroad Depot – open from Memorial Day to the end of October.
The trail was established in 1978, and now hosts the annual Bizz Johnson Marathon through the Lassen National Forest, and the Rails to Trails Festival – both in October. The Bizz Johnson Trail may be used for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and cross-country skiing.
High Rock Canyon Emigrant Trails
Covering more than 380,000 acres, the High Rock Canyon Emigrant Trails are found just north of Auburn. Established in 2000, the conservation area is within three wilderness areas. The trails were used by Native Americans and were first recorded by Captain John Fremont in 1844.
Recreational enthusiasts enjoy hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding through the canyon. Keep a lookout for the variety of wildlife in the canyon and for the signature sites approximately five miles into the canyon. When you visit the Sacramento area, you'll certainly want to plan a day of outdoor activity at High Rock Canyon.
Biking & Cycling in Santa Clara County
Settled in the Santa Cruz Mountains, Santa Clara County is home to cities like Los Gatos, Santa Clara, and San Jose – all found south of the San Francisco Bay area.
From annual races to four-season biking trails, the Santa Cruz Mountains are a mecca for all fans of cycling.
Events & Races
Early May brings the AMGEN Tour of California – an annual race passing through Los Gatos en route from Sacramento to Mt. Baldy.
May also brings the Cat’s Hill Classic – presented by the Los Gatos Bicycle Racing Club and part of the NCNCA National Premier Series Program, USCF Results & Rankings Program, and DEVO Race Series.
Try other annual criteriums in the Los Gatos Bicycle Racing Club like the Foothill Circuit Race, or enjoy more causal events like the Saturday Training Ride and the Sunday AM Ride.
Exquisite mountain biking opportunities are found at 16 preserves across the nearby Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District.
Check out 11 miles of trail at Fremont Older Open Space Preserve, 26 miles at Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve, and 34 miles at El Corte de Madera Creek Open Space Preserve. Recommended runs include Sierra Azule and St. Joseph's Hill trails.
For wild places closer to the Los Gatos area, check out Santa Rosa, Heintz, and Shannon Valley open spaces. Novitiate Park and Belgatos Park act as gateways to these open spaces – and cycling is allowed here as well.
Santa Clara County Parks offer 125 miles of paved biking trails across 17 regional parks – including the Los Gatos Creek Trail.
Other biking trails in Los Gatos are found in Worchester Park, and the Kennedy Loop through the Kennedy Meadows neighborhood.