Nimbus Fish Hatchery

You might not think a fish hatchery would be a particularly good place to get a nature walk in, but the Nimbus Fish Hatchery is extraordinary. Sitting right alongside the American River, the hatchery provides both paved and more “rural” walkways for visitors. You can walk through the raceways where the baby fish are (and even feed them if you want to), stop in at the Visitors Center, walk along the fish ladder and then down to the hillside overlooking the river itself. There are also bike trails running along one edge of the place if you’re so inclined.

Easy to Locate? Yes
Pet Friendly? Sort of. You can have your pets on a leash along the trails and walkways but NOT inside the Visitors Center
Easy to Walk? Yes.
Is there a Fee? No.
Are there Restrooms? Yes, inside the Visitor’s Center (when it’s open)
Is there Accessible Parking? Yes.
Other Notes: Besides providing some great nature walks along the river, you can also see the spawning of Salmon and Steelhead inside the Visitors Center during the winter months.

See my FLICKR account for more albums of photos taken at this location throughout the last several years.

Along the river, you get views of a variety of birds including Black-Crowned Night Herons, California Gulls, Canadian Geese, Common Mergansers, Double-Crested Cormorants, Glaucous Gulls, Goldeneye Ducks, Grackles, Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, Green Herons, Herring Gulls, Mallard ducks, Phoebes, Ring-Billed Gulls, Snowy Egrets, and Sparrows.  Bring a pair of binoculars and see how many you can spot!  

In the late fall and winter, you can watch the spawning and egg-gathering of Chinook Salmon and Steelhead Trout inside the Visitors Center (but get there early in the day or you might miss it). Here are some photos of the spawning processes:

I took this video in 2016.

How to Get to the Nimbus Hatchery

The hatchery is located at
2001 Nimbus Road, Gold River, CA 95670
Phone: (916) 358-2820

From Sacramento:
• Take Highway 50 East to the Hazel Avenue exit in Gold River (Sacramento County)
• As you come off the Hazel exit off ramp turn LEFT onto Hazel Avenue
• Take Hazel Avenue to Gold Country Blvd.
• At the light, turn LEFT onto Gold Country Blvd.
• Take Gold Country Blvd. to Nimbus Road (Nimbus Road will come up very quickly on your right, so be prepared for that)
Turn RIGHT onto Nimbus Road and pull into the parking lot.

Be careful as you drive in. There’s a spot where the biking trail cuts across the road and you’ll need to stop for walking/biking traffic. Parking in the hatchery’s lot is free.

Travels of a Certified California Naturalist