Cosumnes River Preserve: Wetlands Walk Hike (Revisited)

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We last posted about this hike back in 2015, and not much seems to have changed at Cosumnes River Preserve – it’s still a great place for light hikes that are great for families! This time around we organized a hike (see Facebook event page), shared it on the Hike It Baby calendar, and invited anyone interested in coming along.

Why we love it: It is so simple! The Wetlands Walk itself (technically the “Lost Slough Wetlands Walk”) is described as a one-mile universally-accessible trail offering an up-close view of lush marshes, wetland plants, water-birds, insects, and amphibians. We also took advantage of the wooden boardwalk that meanders into the Lost Slough.

For the Young Ones (0-10): Over 250 species of bird, 40 species of fish, 230 varieties of plant, and untold numbers of reptiles and amphibians have been observed in the preserve! Right away, our six year-old spotted a rabbit and enjoyed watching hummingbirds feed on the deck of the Visitor Center. If you take your time, you can spot crawdads in the marshes!

For the Big Kids (10+): There are over 11 miles of trail within the 50,000+ acres of the preserve! Plenty of miles for big kids to explore.

Keep in Mind:

  • At least half of this trail is completely exposed. Sun protection is a must.
  • There are two points at which the trail crosses over the road that leads you to the preserve. Hold on tight to those little ones!

Around the Area: There are events open to the public at the preserve – check out their activities page for more information.

Difficulty Level: Beginner.

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NorCal Families Hike – July 16

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Starting this year, I set a goal to organize a ladies-only hike twice a year (Spring 2017 – Cataract Falls), and a families hike twice a year. I’ve actually already organized two for  families (Effie Yeaw Nature Center & Stone Lakes NWR), but technically the second was a kick-off hike focused on the #hikeforgrayson campaign vs. just a straight hike.

I’d like to welcome anyone in the NorCal area to come and join us for a morning beginner hike at Cosumnes River Preserve! I’ve done a past post on the preserve and it’s a great place for families.

Details:

I am NOT a trained hiking guide. Know the limits of those coming with you and do your own research (trail conditions, weather) and prep (snacks/water, first aid, sunscreen).

We will hike/stroll at the pace of the slowest hiker.

Please remember sun safety and water!

No pets allowed.

Photography is encouraged!

Timing:

Meet at the Visitor’s Center deck at 8 AM.

We will start walking at 8:15 AM. (You can explore the center after the hike.)

We are taking the Lost Slough Wetlands Walk, a one-mile universally-accessible trail offering an up-close view of lush marshes, wetland plants, water-birds, insects, and amphibians.

To join in on the fun, RSVP to Family Trail Time via Facebook!

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If interested, stay afterwards and take River Walk Trail, a 3+ mile round trip on raised levees through a variety of habitats, including buttonbush thickets, native grasslands, valley oak riparian forest, cottonwood-willow riparian forest, tule marsh, and valley oak.

Stone Lakes NWR #hikeforgrayson

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On the morning of June 24 we kicked off the #hikeforgrayson campaign with a “kiddie” hike south of Sacramento and just west of Elk Grove. In my previous post, just my older son and I explored the trails, but on this day we had nearly forty people in our group!

We were so happy to have so many people come out for a nice stroll through this national wildlife refuge that most of them never knew about!

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Why we love it: No matter what your party size, you can easily stroll around the trails for a light hike/nature walk.

For the Young Ones (0-10): They little ones will keep stopping along the path, finding little bugs crossing the path, or pointing out the animal footprints permanently placed in the concrete.

For the Big Kids (10+): Before or after walking around, big kids might enjoy the FREE Paddle Program that offers relaxed guided summer wildlife viewing and interpretation paddles for canoers and kayakers. (June through September.)

Keep in Mind:

  • You cannot rely on GPS to get you here – From Sacramento, travel south on Interstate 5 and take the Hood Franklin Road exit.  At the stop sign, turn right, heading west for about one mile.  The entrance sign and turn lane will be on your left.
  • While the wide trail is inviting and there is lots of wildlife to spot, keep in mind that snakes are a part of that wildlife. Make sure to educate you group (esp. kids) on how to watch out for snakes.

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Around the Area: Just a mile east of I-5, you can easily cross over the freeway to Elk Grove, or hop back on the freeway.

Photo credit: Lea Andrus-Photography

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Effie Yeaw Nature Center

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Effie Yeaw Nature Center is a little oasis right in the city! It’s easy to get to, the trails are short and sweet, and there’s so much to observe and learn. I took an few hours to lead a Hike It Baby hike there this week and it was so much fun!

Why we love it: The nature center itself has live animals (who doesn’t love seeing owls, snakes, and more?) and an Exhibit Hall that allows visitors to explore the natural and cultural history of the Lower American River. Make sure to grab a free map (and pay your $5 parking fee) before heading outside. We loved all of the animals the kids were able to see, and how much fun they had throwing rocks into the American River!

For the Young Ones (0-10): If you’ve taken your little ones on paved walks around town, this is a perfect next step to graduate up to dirt and more narrow trails (not designed for strollers or wheelchairs). Our group had kids age 2 – age 7, and each and every one were in awe of the deer, birds, and tadpoles we spotted.

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For the Big Kids (10+): If big kids are interested in bird watching, this is a great spot! We saw many different kinds of birds, and even us adults were introduced to the red-breasted sapsucker.

Keep in Mind:

  • The nature center is inside Ancil Hoffman County Park. Driving along Tarshes Drive, just keep going and look for signs for the nature center and San Lorenzo Way.
  • Daily parking pass is $5, payable inside the nature center.
  • The American River is flowing fast right now. Take every caution near the water’s edge.
  • You may want to call ahead to make sure the nature center is accepting guests when you plan to go. They get extremely busy with field trips and summer camps, and may turn away groups during peak hours.

Around the Area: Home! It was so nice to be out in nature on a weekday, and still get home in time for dinner.

Difficulty Level: Beginner.

 

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Inside the nature center.

 

Laguna Creek Trail

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Let’s face it – finding a hike, or really any trail, in a city isn’t exactly easy! This week I’ll post about two places that are actually close enough to do on any day of the week. For this blog post, I used this TrailLink map and mapped out what I call a “kiddie hike” along the Laguna Creek Trail.

IMG_7538Why we love it: Picking up the trail just west of the Wendy’s/Snobites parking lot, in Camden Park, you can take a leisurely stroll along the greenbelt and get to a playground at Mix Park in about 1.1 miles. Looping back makes for a nice 2.2 mile walk, with a break in the middle at the playground. Use the map above, or use GPS to find your way.

For the Young Ones (0-10): Littles that are just getting acquainted with longer walks will have a flat surface with interesting kid-friendly sights along the way, including a lake, birds, turtles, mushrooms, and bugs! Most fun of all, the incentive of a playground ahead! Since it’s paved it is stroller and wheelchair accessible, and the path is clear enough that kids can run ahead and you can still see them.

For the Big Kids (10+): The trail is open to walkers and bikers alike, so big kids may like exploring the entire trail on bike. There’s also a basketball hoop and tennis courts near the playground if they’re game for a family walk followed by basketball or tennis.

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Keep in Mind:

  • Bond Road is a very busy street, so be careful when parking and heading towards the park.
  • The trail winds through a neighborhood, and many people walk the trail with their dogs. All of the ones we saw were on leashes and the owners moved the dogs away from the kids.
  • There are no bathrooms at the playground or along this part of the trail.

Around the Area: Have a local treat after your walk at Snobites, or have a meal at one of the many places to eat along Bond.

Difficulty Level: Beginner.

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Tilden Regional Park: Nimitz Way

I’m of the opinion that any trip to Berkeley’s Tilden Regional Park is going to be a great time! In a past post I blogged about the Quarry Trailhead to the Seaview Trail and in that post you can find more details on the park itself.

Why we love it: Nimitz Way is a 4.1 mile (8.2 miles roundtrip) paved trail with views of Meadows Canyon and across the hills to the bay. There are benches along the way, and clear mile markers and trail markers along the way. It’s an easy hike for those new to hiking, and can be as short as you’d like, or much longer (it continues on as a part of the Skyline trail, and is unpaved after the 4.1 miles).

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For the Young Ones (0-10): This trail is stroller-friendly for any type of stroller, with tons of lady bugs, beetles, and rolly pollies to observe right on the trail! Just off the trail we observed a rabbit hopping along, and a gofer digging himself a hole! Note that this trail is popular with joggers and cyclists of all ages, so make sure you’re teaching all hikers how to share the trail. We found that pretty much all of the cyclist were extremely courteous at calling their approach and expressing appreciation for our keeping right.

 

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We turned around at this view, estimating it was approx. 2 miles or 1/2 way down Nimitz Way.

 

For the Big Kids (10+): Big kids can easily handle the full hike or take the bikes for a faster ride. There are great views all along the trail, and with clear cell reception, your teenagers could get a bit ahead with water and a phone to keep in touch.

Keep in Mind:

  • Park at Inspiration Point on Wildcat Canyon Road and you’ll easily find the trailhead. The parking lot is often full, but appeared (and I’ve read it) to have a relatively quick turnover.
  • There is intermittent shade, but this is a trail with sun exposure, so I recommend hats and sunscreen for all.
  • With the popularity of the trail for hikers, joggers, and cyclists, it’s best for those kids you know will be able to get out of the way if/when necessary.
  • There are no toilets in the parking lot, but just past the trailhead you’ll see some on your right.

Around the Area: There is SO much to do right in the park! Check out the botanical garden or rest your feet and take a ride on the steam train.

Difficulty Level: Beginner.

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Elk Grove Creek Trail

DSC_2736Why we love it: If you’re in the Elk Grove, CA area it’s an easy way to get in a nice walk and exposure to a bit of nature without heading out of town. We did just a portion of the trail, starting at the shopping center with Peet’s Coffee and Leatherby’s Ice Cream on Laguna Blvd. (between Big Horn Blvd. & Laguna Springs Drive) and heading south. (You can take either side of Elk Grove Creek.) We took the west side of the creek and it was my intention to take it all the way to the playground at Oneto Park, but it was under major construction when we got there!

For the Young Ones (0-10): Our six year-old stopped about every ten feet, checking out bugs on the walkway. Our little guy stayed safely in the stroller and the surface of the trail on this part of the trail is quite easy with the two of them. There were a few walkers with dogs, but they all were on leashes and held them close when passing.

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For the Big Kids (10+): There are educational signs along the trail that older kids may enjoy reading, but this may be on the boring side for older kids. Honestly, our six year-old found it boring once there was no goal of getting to a playgrounIMG_5972.JPGd. Nonetheless, we needed to get some fresh air and wanted to spend time together, so it certainly serves that purpose.

Keep in Mind: On the route we took, there is no shade so wear sun protection and don’t go during the heat of the day.

Around the Area: Did you see my mention of Peet’s and Leatherby’s above? There’s also I Love Teriyaki, Nothing Bundt Cakes, McDonald’s, and more in the shopping center.

Difficulty Level: Beginner.