Opt Outside: Health and Wellness in El Dorado County
Photo by Menka Belgal
The jackets are put away. The days are longer. The temperatures are warming up. It’s time to get outside and make the most of this envy-inducing California climate. Sure, there’s always another new TV show to binge, but we hereby demand that you put down the remote, step away from the couch, open your door, and go on an outdoor adventure. Whether it’s in your own backyard or exploring your neighborhood (or even one town over!), here are eight ideas that guarantee you’ll have fun in the sun—even if you do end up sweating a little bit. Challenge accepted? You’re on!
GO HIKING IN THE PARK
With trails of all lengths (one to eight miles) and for all levels (beginners to more advanced hikers), Eldorado National Forest makes for a great day trip. Other recreational options include fishing, rock climbing, picnics, and bicycling.
Join a running club
Take your goal to reach 10,000 steps a day one step further. By joining a local running club, you’ll find people in your community who will motivate you to keep going when you feel like you want to quit. Workout buddies will keep you reliable, even when you’re dreading putting on those sneakers. Don’t think. Just do it. Through sites like meetup.com, you can find running groups, including the El Dorado Trail Explorers.
Find inspiration in nature
On April 29 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., American River Conservancy is offering a free Art on the Farm class, where you can find beauty at every turn. No matter your medium—painting, sketching, photography—you’ll find “272 acres of springs, streams, oaks, and vistas” worth capturing. Visit arconservancy.org for more information plus additional classes and hikes.
Get out on the water
With lakes and rivers just a short drive away, there’s no excuse for avoiding an aquatic adventure. Try your hand at water skiing, kneeboarding, wakeboarding, or, for the truly brave, whitewater rafting.
Walk or bike to work
Leave the car at home. Not only will you save gas and help the environment, but you’ll be working on your physical fitness without stepping foot in a gym, too. Get a Fitbit or use your smartphone to track your steps and number of calories burned. Pro tip: Wear sneakers, and carry your work shoes in a bag—you’ll save your feet from painful, unnecessary blisters.
Roasting marshmallows over the fire. Sleeping under the stars. Waking up to see the sunrise. What’s not to love about camping? Our region has numerous campgrounds to pick from, including options that are pet-friendly and others close to rivers and waterfalls. With the right people as your fellow campers, it can make for a perfect spring staycation.
Pick or grow your own produce
Whether you’re heading to the Main Street Farmers’ Market in Placerville or stepping into your backyard to pick just-ripe tomatoes, having a colorful cornucopia of fresh produce readily available is key to a healthy, balanced diet and may be the inspiration you need to create new recipes.
Sign up for a race
From an “easy” 5K to a Tough Mudder, this challenge is all about determination. First, sign up for a local race. Trust us, when we say there’s one for everyone, no matter your fitness level or interest—even a Bad Ass Beer Run on April 28 in Camino (badassbeerrun.com). Give yourself a few weeks to train. Then, as soon as you hear “On your marks, get set, go,” show ’em what you’ve got! As you cross the finish line, you may find yourself wanting to experience that feeling of accomplishment again and again and again.
HIT THE TRAILS: 7 to Try This Spring
1/Carson Pass Trail. This 5.2-mile, out-and-back wildflower-covered route to Lake Winnemucca is moderate enough for children and beautiful for all. Lodgepole pines start the trail, but after passing turquoise-colored Frog Lake there are open slopes of purple lupine, yellow mule’s ears, and western blue flag iris.
2/Monroe Ridge Trail. Enjoy an al fresco lunch at one of the two picnic tables on this three-mile trail above historic Coloma that ends at Marshall Monument. Although it can get dry and dusty on warm days, there are some gorgeous views.
3/Cronan Ranch Trail. Sixteen miles of wide open trails that are easy to walk, jog, or hike ensure that you can enjoy nature for as long as you want to look at the rolling hills or the river. Note: There is little shade on the path, so be sure to go on a cooler day and pack plenty of sunscreen and water.
4/Clementine Trail to Clark’s Pool. Just seeing the waterfall from the North Fork Dam would be beautiful enough, but the hike on the way up makes it even more enjoyable. You’ll pass under the tallest bridge in California and can swim in Clark’s Pool, a popular swimming hole.
5/American River Bike Trail (Jedidiah Smith Memorial Trail). Spanning 32 miles from Folsom to Old Sacramento, this world-renowned paved trail that winds through riparian habitat and parallels the American River is perfect for walking, biking, jogging, or commuting. In Folsom, access the trail via Negro Bar State Park or in Historic Folsom.
6/Miners Ravine Trail. This interpretive nature trail travels through some of Roseville’s most beautiful open space and wetland areas and consists of two short loops that feature historic sites, a stream, woodlands, large granite boulders, and the infamous Sculpture Park.
7/Johnny Cash Trail. A tribute to the legendary musician, this dog-friendly trail boasts views of Folsom Prison and the American River, and will soon feature larger-than-life public art pieces, smartphone apps, and audio interactive elements.
HAPPY CAMPERS: 6 Cool Campgrounds
1/Yellow Jacket. The cedar and ponderosa pine forest at this campground are home to an abundance of wildlife, including black bears and mule deer, along with several reptiles, amphibians, and birds. Desolation Wilderness is also nearby, allowing the opportunity to get away from the crowds.
2/Gerle Creek. Named after two early settler brothers in the region, this campground is close to a fun interpretive trail. Water activities are in excess, and fishing for brown and rainbow trout is a favorite. An accessible fishing dock is on-site, too.
3/Wench Creek. This campground is split into three heavily wooded loops, and each section has an area that overlooks Union Valley Reservoir for some water activities. Union Valley Trail runs directly through Wench Creek, and plenty of other trails are nearby.
4/Ice House. The air smells like vanilla here thanks to the ponderosa pines that call this campground home. Cedars and Manzanita bushes surround the shores of Ice House Reservoir, and the Ice House Resort offers groceries, gas, and a cook’s night out.
5/Silver Fork. Listen to the sound of the river rapids all throughout this campground while you relax under the shade of the mature firs and Jeffrey pines. The RV-friendly locale is a gem, and even features an equestrian area.
6/Lover’s Leap. This is the ideal campsite for rookie campers who still want some amenities. All campsites are walk-in and tucked among the trees and Manzanita shrubs. The Strawberry Lodge offers a cook’s night out, ice cream, and hot showers (for a fee).
By Kourtney Jason