Rush Ranch Open Space Preserve,
Solano Land Trust,
Solano County
In brief:
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.

Exposure:
Full sun.

Trail traffic:
Light.

Trail surfaces:
Dirt trail.

Hiking time:
1 hour.

Season:
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.

Getting there:
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:
http://www.transitandtrails.org/trailheads/70

GPS Coordinates* for Trailhead:
Latitude 3812'31.74"N
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.

Trailhead details:
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.

Rules:
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:
Rush Ranch website
Solano Land Trust 707-432-0150

Map/Book Choices:
• 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 (order this book from Amazon.com) has a great map and descriptions of a Rush Ranch hike.

Rush Ranch in a nutshell -- a printable, text-only guide to the featured hike.

View photos from this hike.



Go to Bay Area Hiker Home page


Zipping 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.Parking lot  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. A water tower on the side of South Pasture Trail
     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. Indian grinding stoneYou'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.Looking east from Spring Branch Creek
     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 on South Pasture Trail. Returning to the ranch area
    
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