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.