There are miles of trails to explore at Cosumnes River Preserve!
Surrounding our Visitor Center is over 4 miles of trails. Both the River Walk Trail and Wetlands Walk Trail can be accessed from the trailhead just north of the Visitor Center, or across the street at the Boardwalk. These trails are open from Sunrise to Sunset every day, unless otherwise posted. Rancho Seco Recreational Area just East of Galt consists of a 7-mile hike along Howard Ranch Trail. This area is a great place to see vernal pool grasslands and wetland habitat. Click on each trail name to learn more!
Download your own trail map and guide here: Nature Trail Guide.
Take a virtual guided tour of our trails here: Virtual Guided Hike.
To hike the Howard Ranch Trail, learn more here: Howard Ranch Information.
Wetlands Walk Trail
A one-mile universally-accessible trail offering an up-close view of lush marshes, wetland plants, water-birds, insects, and amphibians. There is also a wooden boardwalk trail which is ADA accessible 1/2 mile round trip, meandering into the wetlands, with a viewing platform at the end. Both of these trails offer seats for resting along the trail.
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, valley oak savannah and several restoration projects. During the winter months, the natural flood cycle often results in complete inundation of this trail by floodwaters.
Howard Ranch Trail
Starting at the Rancho Seco Recreational Area and winding around the north end of Rancho Seco lake, this trail is a 7 mile out and back (3.5 miles each way) trail. The scenery on this trail includes vernal pools, seasonal wetlands, riparian and marsh habitat, and dramatic views of oak woodland habitat and the magnificent Sierra Nevada Mountains. This trail is open from 7AM to 6PM and there is a $12 charge per vehicle. Specific information about and maps of this trail is available Howard Ranch Information.
Learn More About Plants and Wildlife
Within the Preserve, we have observed over 250 species of bird, 40 species of fish, 230 varieties of plant, and untold numbers of reptiles and amphibians. We provide a number of brochures listing the animals known to inhabit the preserve, along with their migration patterns, so that you can go bird-watching or animal-photographing and check each species off as you discover it. Quietly exploring the preserve with binoculars and a telephoto lens is a brilliant way to observe animals that can be exceedingly rare living wildly in their natural habitat.
If you are interested in Sandhill Cranes, check out the Crane Finder website to see where cranes have been sighted all over the U.S.
River otters, skunks, deer, bobcats, coyotes….the list goes on! There are many types of mammals that call Cosumnes River Preserve home. Though they are not as common to see as birds, you may just get a view from afar if you’re lucky. Like all the creatures at the Preserve, it is always best to keep a distance from wildlife. Check out our tips for viewing wildlife.
There are 40 species of fish and countless numbers of reptiles and amphibians that live in and around the Cosumnes River. Quick and well-hidden, these natives of the Preserve are rarely spotted, but when you do, it’s quite the sight! Check out our tips for watching wildlife and learn the best ways to sight these fleeting creatures.
Shrubs and vines and grasses, oh my! There are 230 varieties of plants species at the Preserve and their beautiful displays over the season will not disappoint. Trees, shrubs, vines, grasses, perennials, annuals, and so many more. To see the full list of plants, click the “Plants of CRP” link. To learn more about specific plants, click “Plant of the Day” on our homepage!