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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Hedge Creek Falls

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At 3+ hours from Sacramento (depending on where you live) this short hike may be best saved for part of a road trip going north on I-5, like our family did this weekend.

Why we love it: It’s short and sweet – right off of the highway, the hike is just about one mile roundtrip, and you get to go BEHIND the falls!

For the Young Ones (0-10): It’s a great break after being in the car for a long time (and there’s a port-a-potty in the parking lot)! Plus, the sweet reward of the waterfall is only about a 1/2 mile mini-hike. Just be careful where the trail is slick, and keep little kids away from the edge of the trail.

For the Big Kids (10+): If big kids want to hike a little more, I read that past the waterfall you can keep going a short distance along the creek to get to an observation deck with a view of Mt. Shasta and see where Hedge Creek meets the Sacramento River.

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Keep in Mind:

  • The parking area is across the street from the trailhead. Look for the gazebo to see where to go to start the trail.
  • There is lots of poison oak along the way, so stick to the trail.
  • We each ended up with a few mosquito bites, so you may want to have your insect repellant on or ready.

Around the Area: About 45 minutes/an hour prior to getting to the falls, we loved the breakfast tacos at El Zarape in Redding, CA!

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.