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Day Outing at the Consumnes River Preserve

March 26, 2013

392_Par_98157_Image_640_426_1By Heather Crivellone

One of my favorite activities to do with my kids is to let them explore and hike around the many trails we have throughout the Sacramento Valley.  And with the beautiful Spring weather we have been experiencing, there is no excuse to not get out start exploring!

We recently visited the local trails at the Consumnes River Preserve with some friends for an afternoon outing, and it was an afternoon full of fun and discovery for our children.

The Cosumnes is a small river, a mere 80 miles long. Its headwaters in the El Dorado National Forest rise at only 8,000′ above sea level. From mostly rain, but also snow melt, the river’s water meanders from the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the Central Valley, just south of Sacramento.Yet the Cosumnes River is far more important than its size would indicate. It is the only remaining unregulated river on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada. In its lower reaches, it flows through one of the biologically richestregions in California’s Central Valley, before merging with the Mokelumne River to flow into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and eventually the Pacific Ocean. The Cosumnes River Preserve was created to safeguard much of this unique landscape.The free-flowing nature of the river allows frequent and regular winter and spring overbank flooding that fosters the growth of native vegetation and the wildlife dependent on those habitats. More than 250 bird species, more than 40 fish species, and some 230 plant species have been identified on the Preserve.”

Located at 13501 Franklin Blvd. In Galt, approximately a 30 minute drive from Downtown Sacramento, they have several walking and hiking trails that are suitable for children.  We completed the Lost Slough Wetlands Walk, approximately 1 mile trail that took us out to the “boardwalk” through the restored marshes of the Lost Slough.  The kids were able to see different wetland plants, water birds, insects and we had a hard time keeping up with counting all the toads we heard!  It was a perfect afternoon walk for our preschoolers!

They also have the Consumnes River Walk Trail which is about 3 miles round trip and it winds through a cottonwood/ willow riparian forest, tule marsh, native grasslands and more.   And for a bit more of a workout- the Rancho Seco Howard Ranch trail is a 7 mile loop that starts at the Rancho Seco Recreational area and winds around the lake.  All of the preserve trails can be found online or at the Visitor Center.

The Visitor Center has displays and interactive educational exhibits that kept the kids busy exploring and learning about the animals and birds that live in this area.  With animal skulls, furs and different exhibits the kids were completely entertained.

So if you are looking for a fun and educational outing for your kids on one of these nice spring days – a drive out to the Consumnes River Preserve may be just the thing for you.  Pack a lunch (they do have picnic tables) and plan an outing in nature!

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