I have literally grown up on this trail. There are several off shoots and unpaved trails for running and even horses as well, especially in the Fair Oaks and Orangevale areas.
CAUTION - DO NOT LEAVE YOUR CAR PARKED ON BRIDGE STREET IN FAIR OAKS NEAR THE 20 MILE MARK UNLESS YOU WANT IT TO GET BROKEN INTO
At the place where all trails had me start, it was paved but just after a couple miles The road changed to gravel which wasn't comfortable. Also there were several areas of private property. Perhaps beginning of the trail at another area would've been better.
Karen S. on American River Bike Trail (Jedediah...
This trail offers beautiful views, easy paved trail and some solitude all in the midst of a bustling city. I rode the trail from discovery park to the 20 mile marker on a Friday and found it quiet and sparsely visited by others. There are many places to catch it from city streets.
At first I was unsure about leaving my car unattended, but it ended up being fine. Just make sure you get back before they close the gate. Upon leaving, I arrived at the gate just in time. The guy was just about to close it for the night. I ended up going about 73 miles, due to losing the trail. It took me 8 hours on my 2011 Specialized Crosstrail. It was basically the first time I'd rode a bike longer then a couple miles. But, the trail is pretty level so, I was able to complete it, with little to no problems.
The American River Trail is a great resource for the community. Every city should have a class I bike route this nice. Most of the ride is up on river terraces or levees, through an extensive greenbelt. From Sacramento, the ride terminates in the historic district of Folsom. A number of parks and river access points are located along the route, which allows people to stroll along shorter portions of the trail. It is used by cyclists, joggers, walkers, people with roller-blades, scooters, and skateboards. The trail is paved to 10 or 12 feet wide, with a centerline stripe and graded shoulders that allow for slower traffic to move out of the way to avoid conflicts.
Me and a friend cycled the American Parkway from Sacramento Downtown to Beals Point (64 miles). and it was awesome. On the way back we went along the Natomas Lake and I'm glad we did because the path is right next to the water. The day we went, the weather was perfect and we had plenty of time because we started out around 8am. On the way in, we had to deal with strollers/walkers/runners/rafters/and lots of other cyclist. One the way back there was low traffic. It was a great experience and I plan to do it again. There is a snack bar at Beals Point.