Cosumnes River Preserve: Wetlands Walk Hike (Revisited)


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.



NorCal Families Hike – July 16


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.


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!


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!

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.

Cosumnes River Preserve: Wetlands Walk & River Walk Hikes


Just about fifteen minutes south of Elk Grove on I-5, Cosumnes River Preserve is an ideal hiking and nature introduction for your family. It contains over 50,000 acres of wildlife habitat and agricultural lands! This blog post focuses on just the Wetlands Walk and River Walk.

DSC_2808Why we love it: This is hiking right in our own backyard! Many of the hikes we usually take require travel of at least an hour. Living close to I-5 in Sacramento or Elk Grove, it takes no time to get Cosumnes River Preserve. The walks are laid back and simple, without being too simple but also not being too much of a challenge. We’re not avid bird watchers, but we were super excited to see many different kinds of birds.

For the Young Ones (ages 0-10): The paved path of the Wetlands Walk is great for those on wheels (stroller, wheelchair, etc.). It’s also a relatively short hike, so we enjoyed letting our 4 year-old take his time watching bugs or listening for animals. It also allowed him a bit of freedom to run around, since it’s a flat path (other than the initial bridge). This path crosses the main road, so be sure not to let kiddos get too far ahead. The River Walk allowed us to get further immersed in nature and our little guy was able to observe interesting plants (“Those trees look like they have white cotton candy all over them!”), birds, and discover the train tracks bridge.

For the Big Kids (age 10+): The River Walk may qualify as more of a “real” hike to DSC_2796adventurers looking for more than a paved path, as it winds its way along raised levees through a variety of habitats, including buttonbush thickets, native grasslands, Valley Oak riparian forest, cottonwood-willow riparian forest, and tule marsh. There are also several different trail options to shorten or lengthen your hike. Big kids may be intrigued by the nearby train tracks on both the Wetlands Walk and the River Walk. This might be a good time to teach about how powerful trains are and how important it is to take precautions around train tracks. Also, Cosumnes River Preserve features a dock for you to launch your canoe or kayak from, which families with older kids may be interested in taking advantage of.

DSC_2800Keep In Mind:

  • There are some pretty exposed parts of these hikes, so always make sure to wear protective clothing, hats, and sunscreen.
  • The Wetlands Walk crosses over the main road, so be sure not let little ones run too far ahead.
  • The Welcome Center’s hours are posted online as open Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm., but on the Sunday we went it was not open. The walks are still available even if the center is closed.

Difficulty Level: Beginner. Wetlands Walk is wheelchair accessible.