Just up Highway 50 from Sacramento, the city of Folsom is a superb dog-friendly destination with a handsomely renovated Old Town just a block or two from the Sacramento River. Cuddle up in dog-friendly lodging and spend a weekend exploring with your four-legged friend. Get your bearings on Sutter Street (the main drag), where you can soak up some local motion at a dog-friendly taproom or restaurant.
When you’re ready to roll, leash up and explore miles of walking, hiking and cycling trails that run along shady wooded corridors and scenic waterways. The 32-mile American River Parkway and Folsom Lake State Recreation Area in the Sierra Nevada foothills are the stars of the outdoor show, with dog-friendly trails, splash spots and more to make you smile and Fido’s tail wag.
Lake Natoma, part of the larger recreation area, is a popular sailing and kayaking lake that’s always full of water (it’s the forebay to Folsom Lake, which shrunk dramatically this year during the drought). A loop trail winds for 11 miles from downtown Folsom around the perimeter, but if you’re not up for such a long trek you can drive, park and access the trail from fee areas at the Willow Creek entrance.
Newish on the Folsom trail scene is the 2.5-mile Johnny Cash Trail, named for the singer who brought Folsom into America’s consciousness back in 1968 (yes, the trail passes right by the prison where the Man in Black played his newly minted song for inmates).
If your dog needs to run off steam but you don’t, take her to Fido Field (also known as Folsom Dog Park), unclip and watch her go. The park features separate fenced areas for small and large dogs as well as shade and seating for human family members.
Heads up: Folsom is a gateway to Sierra Nevada Gold Country, as well known today for its wines as for its colorful history.
Another tip: On the way to or from Folsom, check out neighboring Rancho Cordova, where you’ll find more pet-friendly lodging and some popular craft breweries and taprooms (check out rolicking Fort Rock Brewing in particular). Adventurous tasters can check out additional establishments in Rancho’s newly designated Barrel District, which isn’t a physical district at all, but a dog-friendly collection of six breweries, two distilleries and the region’s only meadery.
A bonus: stay overnight at a Rancho Cordova Hotel and get a complimentary Sierra Foothills Wine Tasting Passport good for two people at eight regional wineries that welcome dogs in their tasting rooms and/or outdoor spaces.