Explore the Trails

NOTICE: Please check our Preserve Updates page for information on trail conditions, Sandhill cranes, and COVID-19 restrictions.

There are over 4 miles of trails to explore at Cosumnes River Preserve!

Access: 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.

Trail Difficulty: Easy-Moderate. River Walk Trail is a flat, dirt trail on a raised levee with both shaded and open sections. Wetlands Walk is a flat, paved trail, mostly open with limited coverage.

**Dogs are not allowed on or off the leash at the Preserve.**

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 the right or below (if on cellphone) to learn more!

View our Digital Trail Guide here.

View our Guided Trail Map for KIDS!

Planning a hiking event with your group? Make sure you check out our Permits section to verify whether or not you need a Special Recreation Permit.

**Note that there is no potable drinking water at the Preserve.**


Download a printable version of this map: PDF Trail Map.

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.

Preserve Rules

Cosumnes River Preserve is a nature preserve, not a park. We have important rules that help us ensure the flora, fauna, and YOU are safe!

Dogs are not allowed on or off the leash. Bicycles, scooters, skateboards, or other vehicles are not allowed on trails. Please refer to our full list of rules HERE.

Viewing Wildlife and Plants

Check out our page on viewing 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.