Exploring Hidden Trails Off Interstate 5

Six miles of trails through riparian forests and seasonal wetlands wind through land owned by the Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District off Interstate 5 between Elk Grove and Sacramento. The interstate is so close, hikers can see trucks whip past on the freeway when valley oaks don’t block out urban life. The trails are usually closed to the public, but well worth the time when the sanitation district opens them to the public.

The Bufferlands trails pass through an old-growth riparian forest and cross underneath Interstate 5 before branching off in various directions. One trail takes hikers past a heron and egret rookery, then to a cormorant rookery and along seasonal wetlands where pelicans and other birds can be seen. Another trail goes past Meadowlark Lake, which is visible from I-5, and through the mysterious restored forest.

The next Bufferlands Open Trail Day, when visitors are free to hike the trails at their own pace, is 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 13.

Four twilight tours are planned this year to allow visitors a chance at seeing beavers, river otters, raccoons, muskrats and owls that come out at dusk. Those dates are June 20, July 18, Aug. 15, and Sept. 20. To reserve a spot on a twilight tour, e-mail Chris Conard at conardc@sacsewer.com for the June 20, Aug. 15, or Sept. 20. E-mail Roger Jones at jonesro@sacsewer.com for the July 18 date. For more information, go to www.bufferlands.com.

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