Howard Ranch Trail at Rancho Seco
This will be a leisurely 7 mile hike. We will stop and smell the flowers and peer into the vernal pools in hopes of seeing signs of aquatic life. We will take a lunch break a little more than half way around the trail.
ETA at the trailhead: 9:00am
$10 charge per vehicle at the gate
Description provided from the Cosumnes website listed below:
The 7-mile Rancho Seco Howard Ranch Trail is a hiker’s paradise! The trail begins by winding around the north end of Rancho Seco Lake along willow scrub and riparian marsh habitat. As the trail leaves the water's edge, it travels up onto a flat terrace supporting a mosaic of vernal pools and grassland habitat. This terrace also offers dramatic views of extensive blue oak woodlands in the foothills and the far-off peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountain range.
When filled with water, vernal pools are crucial to the short life cycle of federally listed threatened and endangered species, such as the California tiger salamander, fairy shrimp, tadpole shrimp, and Western spadefoot toad. In the spring, masses of flowering plants carpet the basins of these pools creating a sight not to be missed.
How to get there (link with map):
From Sacramento, take Highway 99 south to the Twin CitiesRoad/Highway 104 exit. Go east on Highway 104 for 15 miles to the Rancho Seco Park entrance. After you stop and pay the park fee, watch for the small sign on the right for Howard Ranch Trail and take the first right on the gravel road after passing the two towers.You will begin and end the hike at the North Parking Lot.
What to bring?
Water, a snack/lunch, sunscreen and a hat.
Waterproof hiking boots may be a good idea, depending on rain conditions the week before the hike. There may be muddy or wet sections along the trail.
$$$ About $7 to you carpool driver, and a $10 charge per vehicle to get into the Rancho Seco Recreational Area.
What not to bring?
Dogs (some of the trail passes through a working cattle ranch).
What time will we be done?
Walks generally take 3 1/2 - 4 hours which includes a stop for a snack/lunch.