This was the third "new" Wildlands hike for me in the preceeding month. It's been kind of an exciting time for me.I wanted to hike this preserve last year, during a reasonable wildflower bloom. No such luck, this year. Still, it was a really pleasant hike.
Summer was threatening, but wasn't quite there, yet, so, while hot, it was not too hike to enjoy a hike. There was a nice cool breeze to help.There are three main trails heading out of the parking area. El Camino Viejo is the old road that was once part of the trail from San Francisco to Los Angeles, via the inland route, and is open to bicycles as well as hikers. It is wide, mostly flat, and stays somewaht to the west of the water. San Emigdio Canyon trail runs closer to the (small) river, but still offers little shade. The Tule Elk View Trail heads steeply up the canyon to the west of the river.
I took the Tule Elk View trail. As I gained altitude, I saw a deer, in the distance. Wasn't sure what it was at the time, but I used my medium telephoto to snap some shots, then cropped it, later, to get a decent-sized image of a deer.
The trail leveled out, and there was a bench to overlook the southern San Joaquin Valley. After a brief respite, the trail began another climb, to another flat area, this time, with several permanently-mounted telescopes, available to scan for wildlife.
Several changes of direction, before it decended towards the river, eventually meeting the bike path near "The Willows," where several water-related features have been engineered to reclaim the area for wildlife. Camping also occurs here, though I did not inquire about that.
I spent some time on the San Emigdio Canyon trail, before coming to a split where, when I followed the more obvious branch, found myself back on the El Camino Viejo. More walking on that, until I returned to the area near the parking lot. There were benches, a restroom, and several water features here, too.
Although it was mostly dry grass when I was there, there were some stands of willow and cottonwood, so there may be some fall color to see here, in addition to spring wildflowers, when the conditions are more favorable. I definitely hope to return.
A trail map is here, and, of course, more information is on the Wildlands Conservancy's website, linked at the start of this post.About 8.3 miles and 1,086 feet of verticle gain, according to my Alltrails recording. That includes some retracing of steps around the parking area, as I walked around the pond and waterfall.