Howard Ranch Trail is a hiking trail in Sacramento County, California. It is within Rancho Seco Recreational Area. It is 5.0 miles long and begins at 254 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 10.0 miles with a total elevation gain of 591 feet. Near the trailhead there is parking.
Howard Ranch Trail Professional Reviews and Guides
"This sprawling tour of the Rancho Seco Lake shoreline and a working cattle ranch offers a sampling of big-sky country in the Central Valley, with views stretching across the prairie to the Sierra Nevada. Vernal pools along the route bloom with wildflowers in season. The walls of river valleys and the trees of riparian zones hem in many trails in the Sacramento valley, but at Howard Ranch boundaries fall away. Save for the distant foothills of the Sierra Nevada, open range rolls in all directions, spotted with cattle and the occasional lonely oak or sycamore and seasonally abloom with wildflowers reflected in the still waters of vernal pools."
--Tracy Salcedo-Chourre, Best Easy Day Hikes: Sacramento (Falcon Guides).
"This sprawling tour of the Rancho Seco Lake shoreline and a working cattle ranch offers a sampling of big-sky country in the Central Valley, with views stretching across the prairie to the Sierra Nevada. Vernal pools along the route bloom with wildflowers in season."
--Tracy Salcedo- Chourre, Best Hikes Near Sacramento (Falcon Guides).
"The Great Valley has lost 99 percent of its native grasslands. What hasn’t been tilled for agriculture or paved for development has been overwhelmed by non-native grass species. Public opportunities to view the Valley’s few remaining open grasslands are limited. The Howard Ranch Trail, which begins in Rancho Seco Park, provides perhaps one of the best opportunities to visit the Great Valley grassland (as transformed as it is by exotic grasses) and vernal pool ecosystem. The Nature Conservancy purchased the ranch in 1999 from the heirs of Charles Howard (of Seabiscuit fame) and then resold it to a local rancher while retaining conservation easements. The California Conservation Corps constructed the trail, which is maintained by the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD). SMUD also manages the adjacent Rancho Seco Park. The trail offers nice views of Rancho Seco Lake and provides access to the open, rolling grasslands at the base of the Sierra foothills. It circles a large area of vernal pools—shallow pools that provide important seasonal wetland habitat and a gorgeous display of spring wildflowers."
--Steven L. Evans, Top Trails Sacramento (Wilderness Press).
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