Sacramento Delta: Season of the Sandhill Cranes

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

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This route begins from Rio Vista for a flat autumn ride around the agricultural farmlands and open fallow fields surrounding the Sacramento Delta in search of Sandhill Cranes. It heads NE along Race Track Rd and Walnut Grove Rd for an out and back run on N Staten Island Rd and continues SW to the Isenberg Sandhill Crane Reserve on Woodbridge Rd. The ride continues east for a jaunt around the Woodbridge Wine Trail followed by a lunch stop at Consumnes River Preserve. It meanders around the wetlands and marshes along Desmond Rd, Bruceville Rd and Franklin Blvd. The return west includes a stop in Courtland before heading south along the Sacramento River on CA-160.

We exit the Rio Vista Riverbank Fishing Access Area/Waterfront Park and cross the Rio Vista Bridge on CA-12.

CA-160/River Rd runs along the Sacramento River to the town of Iselton.

We take a slight detour off CA-160 to Isleton’s Old Town on Main St.

H St takes us back onto the levee road on CA-160.

We head east on W Tyler Island Bridge Rd across the south end of Andrus Island to the Georgiana Slough crossing onto Tyler Island.

Tyler Island Rd is a levee road that runs 4.7 miles NE along the Sacramento River to Race Track Rd.

The open fields and grasslands at the intersection of Tyler Rd and Race Track Rd is usually another possible spot for Sandhill Crane sightings-but not for today.

I love riding around these open country flatlands; the spaciousness is quite the contrast to our everyday “filled to the brim” style of urban living.

The turn on Walnut Grove Rd takes us through the industrial area at the outskirt of Walnut Grove to the river crossing onto Staten Island.

We head south on Staten Island Rd through the open grasslands and fallow fields in search of Sandhill Cranes. A small flock can be seen in the far distance with grazing cattle in the background. Another flock can be seen and heard from the sky above. We turn around when the pavement ends on Staten Island Rd and reverse our way back out to Walnut Grove Rd.

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Walnut Grove Rd goes east through the valley and crosses under I-5 to our first stop at the Thornton Chevron.

We continue on N Thornton Rd through Thornton; the road leads out of town and heads south along the UP RR tracks before running parallel to I-5.

W Woodbridge Rd is a dead end road that stretches 5.8 miles between Sycamore Slough and Hog Slough. The first couple of miles goes through an open industrial area before reaching the North Unit of the Woodbridge Ecological Reserve.

There is a huge flock of Sandhill Cranes feeding in the flooded grasslands. The sight and sounds are simply fabulous-it’s a treat to be able to see this!

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Further down the road, you can see that orchards, plowed grain fields and grasslands occupy a majority of the surrounding open farm lands.

The road comes to a end at the raised private properties off the sloughs.

We reverse our way back on Woodbridge Rd for a stop at the Isenberg Sandhill Crane Reserve. The interpretive walkway provides a wonderful view of the wetlands and marshes.

There is a small flock of cranes in the near distance and a few cranes flying overhead.

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W Woodbridge Rd goes underneath I-5 and continues east towards Woodbridge.

We meander through the wineries and vineyards along the Woodbridge Wine Trail on Davis Rd and Peltier Rd to Ray Rd and Kile Rd.

Kile Rd leads back to N Thornton Rd; we return through Thornton for a repeat stop at the Thornton Chevron off Walnut Grove Rd.

We stay on N Thornton Rd; this road goes through a ranching community with orchards, vineyards and grain fields.

The road name changes to Franklin Blvd as you cross the bridge over Consumnes and Mokelumne Rivers to Consumnes River Preserve.

We stop for lunch at the Consumnes River Preserve Visitor Center.

We stay on Franklin Blvd and cross the RR tracks on Desmond Rd; this road leads out to the wetlands and marshes around the preserve. 

There is a huge flock of Sandhill Cranes in the lush marshes-WOW!

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We continue on Desmond Rd to Bruceville Rd and Twin Cities Rd. This short open U along the open grasslands takes us back onto Franklin Blvd.

Franklin Blvd goes north through the valley delta with more sightings of Sandhill Cranes.

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The turn on Lambert Rd goes under I-5 to the bridge crossing over Snodgrass Slough.

Lambert Rd winds around NW through the valley vineyards and orchards to CA-160/River Rd.

We head south on CA-160/River Rd for a stop at Courtland Market.

CA-160/River Rd continues south through Courtland along the Sacramento River.

We cross over Paintersville Bridge and stay on CA-160 along the west side of the Sacramento River.

We stay on CA-160/River Rd at the Steamboat Slough Bridge crossing; the road follows along the Sacramento River for the next 5.7 miles into Walnut Grove.

CA-160/River Rd continues south along the river on Grand Island to the Isleton Bridge.

The Isleton Bridge crossing keeps us on CA-160/River Rd into Isleton.

The road goes pass the boat docks and river community on Ida Island.

CA-160/River Rd takes us back onto the Rio Vista Bridge on CA-12 to the Waterfront Park.

This is a gorgeous ride around the rich fertile agricultural farmlands around the Sacramento Delta. The route visits three of the public places to view Sandhill Cranes; Staten Island Rd, Isenberg Crane Reserve and Staten Island Rd. You’ll enjoy the sights and sounds of the cranes and other wildlife around the protected fresh water habitat of the Delta’s wetlands and open grasslands.

93.81 Miles with 325′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 0′
Max grade: 3%
Terrain: Flat

Weather: Cool morning > Sunny and warm with temps ranging from the low 50’’s to the mid 70’s. NW Winds with 82% humidity

Click here to view the interactive route map & elevation profile

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Follow this route for today’s ride: