California Vernal Pools
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Rancho Seco Howard Ranch Trail

2015 Schedule

Please visit their website for more information on location, parking and meeting times. Tours are scheduled for:

Schedule to be posted soon!

The 7-mile Rancho Seco Howard Ranch Trail is a hiker's paradise! The trail begins by winding around the north end of Rancho Seco Lake along willow scrub and riparian marsh habitat. As the trail leaves the waters edge, it travels up onto a flat terrace supporting a mosaic of vernal pools and grassland habitat. This terrace also offers dramatic views of extensive blue oak woodlands in the foothills and the far-off peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

When filled with water, vernal pools are crucial to the short life cycle of federally listed threatened and endangered species, such as the California Tiger Salamander, fairy shrimp, tadpole shrimp, and Western spadefoot toad. In the spring, masses of flowering plants carpet the basins of these pools creating a sight not to be missed. 

Vernal Pool walks will be led from mid-March through early May. Participants will meet at the trailhead at 8:45 am. Be sure to mark your calendars so you don't miss out! The trailhead is located at the North Dam parking lot in Rancho Seco Recreation Area off Highway 104.

For more information call (916) 684-2816 or visit

VernalPools.Org - dedicated to saving California's vernal pool landscapes

revised 01.03.2015