By The Nature Conservancy
The Nature Conservancy will host a series of free public hikes on two breathtaking preserves in the Chico area. The 37,540-acre Dye Creek Preserve, located near Los Molinos, and the Vina Plains Preserve, 12 miles north of Chico. Because the preserves are working cattle ranches, the Conservancy's semi-annual tours provide the public with an opportunity to view some of the region's most spectacular landscapes with knowledgeable and entertaining guides, providing insight on many cultural, geological and biological points of interest.
All events are held rain or shine, with the exception of a serious downpour. Sturdy footwear/hiking boots are a requirement. The weather may be hot, or humid and wet, so wear layered clothing, and bring waterproof clothing and a hat. Carry plenty of drinking water, and bring a lunch. Please arrive 15 minutes early. Space is limited to 25 persons, so visitors are advised to book early. To book a reservation or receive more information, contact Andrea Craig of The Nature Conservancy at (530) 527-4261 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Vina Plains — March 27 and April 3, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
During the spring the Vina Plains Preserve comes alive with colorful wildflowers which carpet the grasslands and ring the vernal pools in spectacular bands of color. The pools support many rare, threatened or endangered species and attract a large array of waterfowl and shorebirds that feast on small crustaceans that fill the pools this time of year.
The one-mile hike is relatively flat, but the surface will be uneven, and may be wet and slippery in places, depending on the weather. The hike will be led by Nature Conservancy botanists, who are extremely knowledgeable about the flora of the site.
From Chico: take CA-99 north, for 11.4 miles/15 minutes (from East Avenue, Chico). The preserve entrance is on the right (east side of Hwy 99) opposite the junction with Haille Road, however it is safer to turn left onto Haille Road, and then cross over the highway when the road is clear.
From Red Bluff: take CA-99/Antelope Blvd south, for approximately 27 miles/35 minutes (from Main Street, Red Bluff). The preserve entrance is on the left (east side of Hwy 99) opposite the junction with Haille Road.
Dye Creek Canyon — March 27, April 10, and May 1, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
The four- to five-mile hike follows the course of Dye Creek itself, which cuts through a pristine setting of volcanic buttes, hills and extensive blue oak woodlands, before flowing into the Sacramento River. Expect spectacular views, spring flowers and occasional wildlife sightings, such as golden eagles and woodpeckers. You'll also have a rare opportunity to explore a cave thought to be frequented by Ishi, the last survivor of the Yahi Indian Tribe.
A good level of fitness and agility is required to complete the hike. Hikers will have to traverse a creek and navigate rocky terrain.
From Chico: take CA-99 north, for approximately 30 miles. Five miles north of Los Molinos turn right onto 68th Avenue, and follow the road for 2.5 miles. At the junction with Foothill Blvd., turn right and enter Dye Creek Preserve. Continue along the drive for approximately one mile, and park where indicated.
From Red Bluff: take CA-99/Antelope Blvd south, for approximately seven miles, then turn left onto 68th Avenue, and follow the road for 2.5 miles. At the junction with Foothill Blvd., turn right and enter Dye Creek Preserve. Continue along the drive for approximately one mile, and park where indicated.