In the foothills of the Sierras and alongside the American River, Folsom is Distinctive By Nature. Folsom Dam created Folsom Lake in 1956 and created over 11,000 acres of pure water fun. For off-water excitement, the 32-mile American River Bike Trail starts at the lake and meanders its way completely paved and off-road into Sacramento. For a more strenuous workout, ride the popular 50-mile course “around the lake” and into the Gold Country foothills. Or enjoy the city’s own network of 95 miles of scenic trails. Whatever your pick, the combined scenery of open space, woodlands, wildlife habitats, and creeks or streams is a rewarding way to experience Folsom.  

The Amgen Tour of California will experience this temperate climate, incomparable views, and sizeable hills that make this part of California so popular with cyclists. The last two times the Tour visited Folsom, in 2014 and 2016, the stage was a short individual time trial through town and around the famous prison. In 2014, Bradley Wiggins blew the field away with a 44 second victory over Rohan Denis. Two years later, the Australian had his revenge and won on the same route. That same year, the Amgen Tour of California Women's Race also featured a thrilling Team Time Trial as Amgen Tour of California Ambassador Kristin Armstrong emerged victorious with her Team Twenty16 teammates.    

Like most towns in the Sierra Nevada foothills, Folsom’s history is inevitably tied to the Gold Rush. In fact, prospectors were here several years before the discovery at Sutter’s Mill. Originally called Granite City, Army Captain Joseph Folsom purchased the property in 1848 with the vision of prospering as a railroad town. The railroad finally arrived in 1856, by which point the town had been renamed in honor of its founder. The “Heart of Folsom” has always been and continues to be Sutter Street. Remains of the old west can be seen in the timber storefronts that mix with later 19th century brick buildings. Not long after, the Lincoln Highway brought more visitors through town and revived Sutter Street as part of America’s first transcontinental railroad.   

Few places can enjoy such veneration for their place in popular culture as Folsom. The indelible Johnny Cash first sang about being “stuck in Folsom Prison” in 1955, making this city of close to 80,000 residents a cultural icon that has much more to offer beyond its infamous associations. Folsom Prison opened in 1880 to relieve overcrowding at San Quentin. Most notably, the prison’s impenetrable stone walls remain an impressive symbol. Cash performed here in 1968 and re-invigorated his career with a broader audience. The Folsom Prison Museum is a great place to dive into the varied history of the state’s second oldest prison. Looking for a more engaging experience? The City of Folsom is embracing this historical link with a recently opened 2.5-mile Johnny Cash Trail for pedestrians and bicycles.

Three Things To-Do in Folsom

Visitors will find regionally acclaimed restaurants in the ambience of a bygone era in Historic Folsom. Other dining choices in the city include an upscale surf & turf experience, the chic feel of a subterranean wine bar, or a step back in time to the charm of a traditional general store and tavern. Also on hand: the entire culinary range of eateries, from casual, healthy cafes and lively brewpubs, to gourmet wood-fired pizza bistros. If a more adventuresome ethnic experience is what your mouth is watering for, Asian, Indian, Mexican, French, Japanese and Italian delicacies are abundant, with many in walking distance to the cinemas, and perfect after a relaxing day of shopping.

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More than 95 scenic trail miles traverse the Folsom area’s wide assortment of waterways and lakes, offering scenic vistas and relaxing surroundings for running, cycling, mountain biking, hiking, and interpretive walks. A standout among them is the 32-mile American River Bike Trail, which winds from downtown Sacramento eastward to the City of Folsom. In Folsom, access the trail via the Negro Bar State Park, or in Historic Folsom. The Folsom Cash Art Trail is a 2.5-mile Class 1 bike trail, perfect for cycling and walking, that crosses over the Folsom State Prison property and connects to Folsom Lake Trail via a recently constructed bike/pedestrian overcrossing inspired by the mid-19th century architecture of Folsom Prison.

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With two lakes and the American River, Folsom offers water recreation covering all energy levels—from the adrenaline rush of water skiing to a relaxing afternoon of paddle boarding. Folsom is also a popular destination for fishermen and those who want to simply relax on a sunny beach.

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