Outdoor sights in Central Valley
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The American River Parkway, a 23-mile river system on the north bank of the American River, is surely Sacramento's most appealing geographic feature. It's one of the most extensive riparian habitats in the continental US. The park's network of trails and picnic areas is accessible from Old Sacramento by taking Front St north until it becomes Jiboom St and crosses the river, or by taking the Jiboom St exit off I-5/Hwy 99.
The parkway includes a nice walking/running/bicycling path called the Jedediah Smith National Recreation Trail that's accessible from Old Sacramento at the end of J St. You can rent bicycles at the waterfront from Bike Sacramento.
About 7 miles east of Visalia is Kaweah Oak Reserve, home to 324 acres of valley oak trees, which once stretched from the Sierra to (long-gone) Tulare Lake in the valley. Nice for a short hike, it's also a rare glimpse into the valley's past before the orchards and vineyards took over. From Hwy 198, turn north onto Road 182; the park is about a half-mile along on your left.
The 40 acres surrounding the California State Capitol make up Capitol Park. With trees from all over the world it's a nice place to picnic or escape the summer heat. At the east end is a powerful Vietnam War memorial.