We do a lot of hiking in some pretty incredible places. While we have traversed trails across Yosemite, Mount Lassen, Joshua Tree, and the Tahoe National Forest, some of the most convenient trails are right in our own backyard.
I grew up in the city of Rocklin, California and was a member of the first graduating class at Rocklin High School. I bought my first home in Rocklin, and then another, and now I am raising my own children here — and not only because the school system is fantastic and the city programs like the preschool are great. I also love that we have access to miles and miles of hiking trails, walking trails, and biking trails along the preserved open space in both our city and the surrounding cities in Placer County and the greater Sacramento region.
While we walk and bike along the trail by our neighborhood all the time, sometimes we want to change it up a bit, get more of a sweat going, and see some new scenery. But at the same time, we don’t always have time to find a remote trail. Lately, for those weeknights or weekday mornings when we want a quick hike close to home, we’ve been hitting the trails in Rocklin’s Whitney Oaks.
The hills surrounding the Whitney Oaks Golf Course have several different trails you can follow and they vary in length and difficulty, so there really is a perfect trail for every hike. Plus, they wind through the Oak Trees, past large granite boulders and rock outcroppings, and provide some incredible views.
Whitney Oaks Trail Guide
Threaded throughout the Whitney Oaks and Springfield developments are several miles of trails that provide excellent views of the foothills, the grasslands, the Golf Course and the beautiful oak-studded hillsides. The trails meander through about 215 acres of the Common Area that is maintained by the Whitney Oaks Community Association. A little more than three miles of trails have an asphalt or decomposed granite walking surface and some of the trails are very steep.
The Whitney Oaks Community Association has a Whitney Oaks Trail Guide available to download that provides detailed information about each hiking trail and the history of the surrounding area and the city of Rocklin. Ken and Bea Morrow, along with Earl Brabb created the guide because of their interest in protecting and improving the trails for the enjoyment of all residents of Whitney Oaks.
Our most recent hike was a combination of the Foothills Trail and the Granite Trail, and while hiking we saw deer, wild turkeys, and sheep!
The Foothills Trail
The Foothills Trail extends eastward from Whitney Oaks Drive just before the Pleasant Valley Creek Park along the valley and then upward to Black Oak Drive. Nestled alongside a seasonal creek with many heritage oak trees, Pleasant Valley Creek Park features a basketball court, school-aged and preschool-aged playgrounds, picnic tables, barbecues, and a small open turf field. Limited off-street parking is available.
At the trailhead, there is a large group of granite boulders — one of the most the most impressive to be found in Whitney Oaks. This granite formed during the Cretaceous or Jurassic Periods between 130 and 150 million years ago. As you follow the trail to Black Oak Drive, you’re traveling uphill at a VERY steep incline. I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that all of our calves were burning on this climb!
This is not a trail to for flip flops or sandals. It isn’t long trail, but because of the incline, you’ll definitely want tennis shoes!
Once we reached the top of the climb and the end of the trail, we turned around and hiked about halfway back down the trail to the intersection of the Foothills Trail and the Granite Trail. At this point, it is relatively flat and during the late spring you’ll find goats or sheep all along the trail as part of the city’s managed grazing program.
The Granite Trail
After spending time checking out the sheep, we set out on the Granite Trail heading toward the golf course. The trail curves around the hillside passing exposed sandstone and mudstone of the Valley Springs Formation, down into a shallow gully with exposed granite, and then takes you up a 45-step staircase to Abby Road. We then followed Abby Road back to Whitney Oaks Drive and walked back past the park to the car.
If you’re hiking with kids, finishing up your hike at the park works out beautifully.The park is next to a creek and is a great place for a family picnic — or if you’ve got a complainer, let your kids know that if they get through the hike like a champ with no complaining, they can have some extra time to play at the playground!
The whole hike only took us about 45 minutes and is perfect for a quick hike before kicking off our workday or to wrap up the day in the evening.
If you haven’t yet walked or hiked the trails in Whitney Oaks, I definitely recommend it — just be prepared that you may not be able to park close to a trailhead. The community is a golf course community, so the neighborhoods are gated and no parking is allowed on the main road through the area. We usually park at the Pleasant Valley Creek Park, but if the small lot if full, you’ll have to park up at the golf course clubhouse or in the office complex parking lot at the corner of Park Drive and Whitney Oaks Drive.