2.2 mile loop circles through pastures near Grizzly Island.
Distance, category, and difficulty:
This 2.2 mile loop hike is very easy, with about 50 feet in elevation
change. South Pasture and Marsh trails are nearly flat. Suisun Hill Trail
is the only preserve loop with significant elevation changes.
Winter is very muddy in the marsh and from summer through autumn the grass
is so high in places it's tough to follow the trail. Early spring is best.
From Interstate 80 in Solano County, exit CA 12 east (exit 43). Drive about
4 miles east on CA 12, then turn right onto Grizzly Island Road. Drive about
2.5 miles south on Grizzly Island Road, then turn right into the preserve.
Get driving or public transit directions from Transit and Trails:
GPS Coordinates* for Trailhead:
Longitude 122° 1'31.98"W
(* based on Google Earth
data, shown as degrees, minutes, seconds)
Gas, food, and lodging:
Stores, restaurants, pay phones, and gas back on CA 12. No camping.
No parking or entrance fees. Parking in a small dirt lot. Maps and drinking
water available at the visitor center, and there are portable toilets in
the picnic area just off the parking lot. There is no direct public transportation
to this preserve. Although there are no designated handicapped parking spots,
the preserve lot is rarely full. Marsh Trail may be wheelchair accessible
during the driest months of the year.
Trails are open to hikers only. Dogs are not allowed on this hike: leashed
dogs are only permitted on one path, Suisun Hill Trail. Preserve is open
from 8 a.m. to sunset.
The Official Story:
Solano Land Trust 707-432-0150
Use AAA's San Francisco Bay Region map to get there.
This hike is
described and mapped in 60 Hikes within 60 Miles: San Francisco, 1st
edition, by Jane Huber (yup, that's me, the creator of this website). Order
this book from Amazon.com.
Afoot and Afield: San Francisco Bay Area, by David Weintraub
this book from Amazon.com) has a great map and descriptions of a Rush
Rush Ranch in a nutshell --
a printable, text-only guide to the featured hike.
photos from this hike.
Go to Bay Area Hiker Home page
along Grizzly Island Road on the way to the wildlife area, there's so much to look at that Rush
Ranch may fall by the wayside. Rush Ranch's 2,070 acres is a fraction
of Grizzly Island, and the Solano Land Trust preserve lacks the Fish and
Game reserve's wild nature. However, you may find Rush Ranch more conducive
to hiking and nature observation, because the ranch does not permit hunting
or fishing, (seasonally) popular activities at Grizzly Island.
There are three trails at Rush Ranch, all
loops. Two begin near the visitor center and offer self-guided tours.
The third, Suisun Hill Trail, starts across the street from the ranch
entrance on Grizzly Island Road, and climbs up into the Potrero Hills
(you can park right at the ranch entrance to access this trail). South
Pasture and Marsh Trails get the most use, and during the school year
the barn and
visitor center area are busy with kids on field trips, learning about
acorn grinding, native plants, and the culture of the Patwin Indians.
Summer and early autumn are dry and hot, although
breezes cool things down a bit. Winter is very muddy, but a good time
to birdwatch. In early spring Rush Ranch really is gorgeous -- the grass
is green and wildflowers dot the hillsides and meadows.
Pick up a South Pasture Trail Guide from
the visitor center. Start in the broad bare area between the
barn and visitor center. South Pasture Trail begins at a gap in
a white fenceline -- there is no trail sign, but look for a series
of "no bikes/smoking/hunting/dogs" symbols on the fence. The
hiking-only trail winds through the ranch's "boneyard," where
old farm equipment has been put out to pasture. Stay to the right when
the trail splits. You'll
pass a water tower, then leave the boneyard and enter grassland. On clear
days the view extends south to Mount Diablo. At post 5 the trail makes
a transition to marshland. Even in early autumn when the grass is dry
a few plants including pickleweed and alkali heather remain green, and
some put forth flowers along the trail. Panicled willowherb and yellow
star thistle were abundant on my September hike. At 0.35 mile South Pasture
Trail approaches a junction and small hill. Continue straight.
At the top of the hill there's a bench looking
west and a sign pointing right, to an Indian grinding stone. Turn right,
walk downhill, and at 0.44 mile, bear right. You'll reach the
rock at 0.47 mile; when you're ready turn back and retrace your steps
to the hilltop, then turn right and continue on South Pasture Trail.
The trail curves left and reaches a fence.
Go through the gate, then bear right. On a perfectly flat course,
the trail through bare grassland offers dramatic views of Mount Diablo.
South Pasture Trail bends left and approaches a water tank, where cows
and horses often congregate. It can be a bit tough to follow the trail
here -- stay to the right of the trough and the path reappears,
easy to follow again. You might see military planes taking off from Travis
Air Force Base, just over the rolling Potrero Hills to the east. Hawks
and other raptors are common. At 1.38 miles, the trail veers left, at
a signed junction. Follow the path left, here shrunken in stature.
Descending slightly, South Pasture Trail
heads north. In late September, every step dislodged a cloud of grasshoppers.
At 1.59 miles Spring Branch Trail heads back to the west. Squeeze
through (or climb over) the pass-through in the fence, then continue straight
Post 15 identifies Spring Branch Creek, nearly
invisible in the driest months of the year. In summer and autumn it's
hard to imagine the creek stretching "50 feet across and one to two
feet deep" during heavy rainfall, as the trail guide reports. A rickety
elevated walkway bridges part of the creekbed. As you pass through another
gate and leave the pasture area, you might see wildflowers along the trail
in spring. In March creamy yellow johnnytuck is common, sprawled through
the fresh green grass on the eastern edge of the property. South Pasture
Trail heads back toward the ranch. Look north for a view of the Vaca Mountains.
After one last gate you'll return to the boneyard. Bear right to return
to the trailhead.
Total distance: 2.16 miles
Last hiked: Tuesday, September 24, 2002