The Sacramento region possesses remarkable natural and man-made recreational assets spanning from the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range to the foothills and the valley floor, all dotted with forests, lakes, rivers and streams. Athletes and fitness enthusiasts flock here to ski, bike, hike, run, raft and play. A single, regionally-connected and contiguous recreational trail would further define the region’s quality of life and increase attraction of visitors, residents, and businesses. Such an asset is capable of elevating the region’s profile as one of the world’s best places to live, work, and play.
What is the goal?
The goal is to create an Epic Trail: A contiguous 100-mile span of recreational pathways across the entire Sacramento region. A trail system of this magnitude would be a globally defining recreational focal point that distinguishes the region from others and draws worldwide attention.
Why is this important?
In today’s business climate, a desirable location is one of the most significant factors employees consider when making career decisions. Many companies locate where they can provide employees safe, sustainable, alternative routes to travel to work and recreate. Employees look to settle in communities that provide access to a healthy lifestyle. A recreational landmark like an Epic Trail can provide all these benefits while also connecting the Sacramento region to other trail systems across the Northern San Joaquin Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area.
What is Valley Vision’s role?
Serving as a regional convener and founder of the Epic Trail initiative, Valley Vision is working with local governments, advocacy groups, and nonprofits to assess the virtues and economic benefits of regional trail projects and the potential barriers that exist to creating them. With broad input from regional stakeholders, Valley Vision is mapping designs for system-wide trail connectivity. The work also involves gleaning understanding and consensus around goals and priorities of trail enthusiast, business leaders, developers, elected officials, and residents living along the trail lines in order to create an asset that serves the needs of regional residents. More than 70 stakeholders are engaged in this process, resulting in a project plan that also accounts for national best practices of rail to trail conversions and greenway projects, their benefits, and workable infrastructure and financing models.
The course laid out for the Epic Trail connects the region’s universities to national parks, as well as areas of historical interests and visitor attractions like Apple Hill to Sutter’s Fort, and Lake Tahoe to Folsom Lake. Beyond the recreational and health benefits, an Epic Trail could provide an unprecedented and environmentally-sustainable way for people to travel between regions.
Valley Vision has partnered with nationally-acclaimed Alta Planning + Design to commission a third-party feasibility study for a 28-mile section of the proposed trail connecting Folsom trail systems to existing trails in Placerville, along the Sacramento Placerville Transportation Corridor Joint Powers Authority, and is working to uncover the best way to complete a paved, Class 1 trail through that area.
How does this improve people’s lives?
An Epic Trail would offer an environmentally-friendly way to get around and across the region and also provide safe bike or walking routes to connect communities that do not currently have access to trail pathways, giving more people mobility and access to healthy lifestyles, jobs and education. Communities with healthy walking and biking infrastructure have shown high levels of resident satisfaction and employee retention. Residents’ access to a contiguous trail of this type would also serve to relieve traffic congestion in some highly-problematic areas like Folsom’s East Bidwell street and the Watt Avenue Bridge—some of the most-congested intersections in the region—and reduce vehicle miles travelled from outlying communities like El Dorado and Placer counties.
The Epic Trail initiative started in 2015.