New guide to hiking California’s foothills and the Sierra Nevada with your dog |

New guide to hiking California’s foothills and the Sierra Nevada with your dog

"57 Dog Friendly Trails" lists suggestions for restaurants, historical sites, wineries, shopping and bakeries near the hiking sites as well. The book is available at Mountain Recreation in Grass Valley.
Submitted Photo to The Union |

For dog lovers, experienced and novice hikers and nature lovers everywhere comes Debbi Preston’s newest guidebook for California’s foothills and the Sierra Nevada, 57 Dog-Friendly Trails.

Preston was inspired to write 57 Dog-Friendly Trails when enough trail changes necessitated updating her previous two guidebooks, 48 Dog-Friendly Trails and Dog-Friendly Trails for All Seasons. Additionally, she had discovered new trail-heads, routes and destinations she wanted to incorporate into the new book. By combining the two guidebooks and adding the new trails, Preston was able to keep just her favorite trails offering the best adventures and destinations the area has to offer.

57 Dog-Friendly Trails is organized month-by-month, beginning in January. Preston chose this format to help encourage New Year’s resolutions and also to increase the difficulty of the trails as the guide progresses in the hope that hikers will build their endurance and be able to tackle more formidable hikes in later months.

Although Preston lists trails for intermediate and experienced hikers, many months have a hike suitable for families and for those with physical limitations. She provides suggestions for modifying hikes to make an easier outing, and offers trails that you can expand into multi-day backpacking experiences as well. “My hope is to get everyone out into nature, get exercise, but still be able to enjoy the outing based on one’s capability,” Preston said.

Another unique aspect to 57 Dog-Friendly Trails is the attention Preston pays to the cycles of nature, providing a true year-round hiking experience. She factors in weather conditions, crowd size and features of the hike such as wildflowers and waterfalls. Each month of the year features four or more hikes suitable to that specific month.

Most importantly, all of the trails Preston lists are dog friendly, combining places for off-leash running possibilities with those having leash requirements. Hikes take one day or less, are easily reached from the Sacramento area, and many of the trails are free to the public. Trails are ranked in difficulty, with “1” being the easiest and “5” the most difficult. Preston’s favorite trail in the guide rated a “5” is the hike to the top of Ralston Peak, which is 4.1 miles and takes the hiker 2,715 feet in elevation with sections of very steep, rock steps. “By October, ideally you will be ready to attempt the hike to the top of Ralston Peak and enjoy the amazing views into Desolation Wilderness,” Preston said.

57 Dog-Friendly Trails lists suggestions for restaurants, historical sites, wineries, shopping and bakeries near the hiking sites. An index indicates which trails are family-friendly, feature waterfalls, fall colors, wildflowers, offer great views and fishing opportunities or have historical interest. The index also marks mountain biking trails, equestrian trails, and snowshoe adventures. This guide is truly a must-have for anyone living in or planning to visit the California foothills or Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Preston has a master’s degree in English from San Jose State University and holds a Community College Teaching Credential. She has been hiking seriously for fifteen years. “Not only is hiking great exercise, it is a great way to see such beautiful natural sites, historical sites, and fun places for swimming, picnicking, fishing and gold panning,” said Preston. 57 Dog-Friendly Trails in California’s Foothills and the Sierra Nevada is Preston’s fourth book.

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