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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Cataract Falls

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Just down the “road” (Panoramic Hwy) from Muir Woods, the hiking trails continue to weave through Mt. Tamalpais State Park. I organized this hike to Cararact Falls as a ladies-only (no partners, no kids) day trip, with women who all had only me in common! It was a beautiful day and we had a great time – be on the lookout for another ladies-only trip in the fall!

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Where we parked to start the trail.

To get to the beautiful Cataract Falls, you drive from Panoramic Hwy down Pan Toll Road, which will take you to Ridgecrest Blvd. For a longer trek, park in the parking area where Pan Toll meets Ridgecrest. For a shorter route (which we took), stop here for the bathrooms and then take West Ridgecrest Blvd. to the left of the parking area. You’ll have to be on the lookout on your right at about 1.5 miles down W. Ridgecrest to see a little parking area (that almost looks like a pullout) at Laurel Dell Rd. (a fire road). This is where we parked and started our ~3 mile hike.

Why we love it:

  • So. many. falls! If you begin the route at Laurel Dell Rd, taking it down until you get onto the Cataract trail (look for a trail sign at the bottom of the road, head right, then over the bridge, and head left along Cataract Creek), you will start at the top of the falls and see them go on and on until what looks like a small finger lake. This is where we turned around and made our way back up, but you can turnaround at any time!
  • Lots of cover from the trees above once you get to Cataract trail!
  • Plenty of places to have a picnic on rocks all along the way.
  • The trail may be short, but you’ll get a leg workout going back up, up, up along the falls!

For the Young Ones (0-10): This is a trail for those young ones you trust will follow directions. While I would fully trust my six year-old on this trail, I know plenty of six year-olds who wouldn’t make safe choices along the falls. Aside from safety concerns, some of the steps up/down may be a bit challenging for short legs. If you have a little one who is perfectly content in a carrier, I would wear a kiddo on this trail without hesitation.

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For the Big Kids (10+): I think this trail gets a full-on “heck yeah!” from the teen sector, but I’m a mom in my late 30s so maybe that wouldn’t be the chosen slang. Regardless, these falls will get a significant thrill rating from older kids.

Keep in Mind:

  • The trail was really populated the Sunday we were there. Not so much as to be annoying, but we certainly weren’t close to being alone – and this means parking is more scarce.
  • Trekking poles are particularly helpful on hikes where you go down, down, down and then up, up, up. Save those knees and help yourself out – bring them if you have them.
  • This trail may not be best for non-compliant little kids, and it may be better to wait a few years.

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Around the Area: We headed into Mill Valley and filled our bellies at Playa. While we weren’t their typical clientele and the prices were a bit steep, it sure was tasty!

Difficulty Level: Moderate.

NorCal Ladies Only Hike – April 23

Photo credit: Weekend Sherpa

Drum roll, please…

The location of the ladies-only (no significant others or kids) hike is…

Mount Tam’s Cataract Falls!

I’ve had my eye on this hike for quite some time, but when I came across this article from Weekend Sherpa (check out their updated site!), I knew this was the hike!

Details:

I am NOT a trained hiking guide. Know your limits, do your own research (trail conditions, weather, etc.) and do your own prep (snacks, water, first aid, sunscreen)! While I’m happy to share what I have and know, we’re all adults.

We will hike at the pace of the slowest hiker.

If coming from the Sacramento area, plan to be gone most – if not all – of the day.

Photography is encouraged!

Timing:

Sunday, April 23, 2017

7:30 AM – Elk Grove, CA: pick-up/caravan meet-up

~8 AM – Davis, CA: pick-up/caravan meet-up

10/10:30 AM: Arrive at Mt. Tamalpais State Park

~10:30 AM – TBD: Hike to the falls, take photos along the way, enjoy snacks, soak in the outdoors, and then head back to cars.

After hike: If you’re game or carpooling, grab some grub as a group!

TBD: Head home!

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

Hiking Resources and Hikes: REI

Every once in a while I love to jump on REI’s website and see what kinds of classes and events they have going on.

For those of you in the Sacramento area – check out this cool Full Moon Hike coming up on 6/4!

To see what else is going on in your area, click here!

And no, I don’t work for REI and I’m not getting any sort of “perk” here – I just really enjoy what they have to offer!