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Rancho Cordova Independent

American River Trail Guide Released

May 21, 2024 01:31PM ● By MPG Staff

“Mildly Scenic: A Trail Guide to Sacramento’s Lower American River” is a first-of-its-kind book released this week. Photo courtesy of Ashley Shult Langdon

SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - Outdoor enthusiast Ashley Shult Langdon is on a mission to help residents find new ways to discover and enjoy Sacramento’s wild and scenic river with her upcoming trail guide, “Mildly Scenic: A Trail Guide to Sacramento’s Lower American River.” The first-of-its kind book will be released on May 14.

"What began during the pandemic as a way to keep my preschool-aged boys from climbing out the windows soon turned into delightful daily discoveries along the Lower American River," said Langdon. “It’s the guide I wished I’d had at my disposal in 2020.”

Langdon wanted to provide closer, easier doorways to nature for more residents.

Ashley Shult Langdon

 “It’s the guide I wished I’d had at my disposal in 2020,” Langdon said. Photo courtesy of Ashley Shult Langdon

“There’s no need to drive far or wait for the weekend – there’s a little slice of wild, natural beauty running right through Sacramento County,” said Langdon. “Spotting river otters on a run between work calls or finding wildflowers during an after-school outing is entirely possible.”

In researching her book, Langdon became Sacramento’s local expert for the vast network of trails, many of which have never been published in a trail guide or on a county map. So Langdon reached out to Sacramento State University’s Geography Department to set “Mildly Scenic” at the center of the upper division coursework last fall. In just a few short months, the students and their professor, Dr. Anna Klimaszewski-Patterson, churned out 18 original maps prominently featured throughout the trail guide.

Ashley Shult Langdon

 Ashley Shult Langdon poses with her book, “Mildly Scenic: A Trail Guide to Sacramento’s Lower American River.” Photo courtesy of Ashley Shult Langdon

“We were thrilled to have our undergraduates engage as a part of this story via their expertise in GIS and mapping to help put this valuable resource in the hands of explorers of all ages,” said Dr. Klimaszewski-Patterson.

Looking to elevate “Mildly Scenic: A Trail Guide to Sacramento’s Lower American River” beyond a basic trail guide, Langdon collaborated with Greg Traverso, graphic designer and pop artist, who is the mastermind behind the book’s cover design.

“From the beginning, Greg looked beyond what I was doing with the book and saw ‘Mildly Scenic’ as a lifestyle,” Langdon said. “And from there, he helped me build this super fun, engaging and beautiful book.”

The result is a 136-page full-color trail guide with photos, easy-to-read maps, at-a-glance trail tips and more than 70 options for trails from downtown Sacramento to Lake Natoma that families, runners, walkers and sun-bathers can all enjoy. Put simply, if you’re looking for an easy out-and-back loop in the sunshine or an affordable activity for out-of-town guests, “Mildly Scenic” has got you covered.

“I’m excited for people to be able to use this guide just in time for summer. How lucky are we to have the mildly scenic American River right in our backyard? It’s wild and scenic,” Langdon said.

“Mildly Scenic” will be available in print ($24.99) at bookstores and in eBook ($9.99). For more information, visit

Lower American River

 Ashley Shult Langdon covers 70 options for trails on the Lower American River. Photo courtesy of Ashley Shult Langdon