Even though I had visited the Folsom Lake State Recreation Area Peninsula Campground on many occasions, I had never really hiked the established trail system at this park site until December of 2014. The trails at the Peninsula Campground are nice and wide and easily accommodate hikers, bikers and horseback riders. Developed either from old mining roads or fire break roads, you can easily spend the day hiking around and not get lost because so many of the trails are loops.
Folsom’s Peninsula Campground trail system
The Peninsula Campground and trail system was developed when Folsom dam was being built. This state park is so named for the peninsula of land that separates the confluence of the North and South Forks of the American River. Of course, in all but the lowest lake levels during a drought is the peninsula remotely visible. The Peninsula Campground Trail system offers over 8.5 miles of easily accessible trails. When you add the water and picnic tables of the campground, you get a great one day get-a-way for hiking.
Peninsula trails are secluded, hard to reach
Even though the park is less than a mile across the water from Granite Beach State Park on Folsom Lake, the Peninsula Campground is not easy to access. It is a nine mile journey from Highway 49, down Rattlesnake Bar Road with numerous switch back curves and one lane bridges. It is accessible by the Darrington Trail which starts nine miles to the east at Salmon Falls Bridge on the South Fork of the American River. Consequently, the park is only open for camping during the summer and winter day use visitor number under twenty on a good day.
California Oak Woodland preserved
Most of the park is a nicely preserved example of an oak savannah woodland. There are rolling hills, lots of grasses, and variety of different oak trees from young to old. While there are plenty of old mine shafts and abandoned pits north and east of the park, the landscape along most of the Peninsula trails is relatively unscathed by man. Of course, for history buffs like me, a lack land use can make the hiking not quite as intriguing.
Hiking without obstacles
However, if you’re willing to get off the trails down to the lake bed during low water you can stumble across Native American grinding holes, old bridges or the outlines of abandoned structures. But for the sheer joy of hiking undisturbed the Peninsula trails are wonderful. But just because the trails are wide doesn’t mean there aren’t some steep portions. Usually the most difficult climbs are the ridge trails that dead in at the lake. While it is nice to visit the shoreline, climbing back up the ridge trails can be particularly strenuous during summer and ninety degree heat.
View more pictures and map of trail system at end of post.
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