|Cosumnes River, Central Valley, California|
From the preserve's visitor center your walk will start like the Wetlands Walk over the bridge with the beautiful, often overlooked plaque illustrations of animals and plants. Instead of turning left for the Wetlands Walk, turn right to stroll south alongside Middle Slough. The water in the slough may look stagnant, but, since it is connected with San Francisco Bay via the Delta waterways, it has a slow in-and-out flow: Middle Slough is a tidal slough influenced by the bay tides.
The Guide features many points of interest including the majestic valley oak, growing in the oak savannah to the left of the tracks of the Union Pacific Railroad. You'll find a variety of other plants such as live oak (less common to the preserve), willow, native and non-native blackberry, wild California rose, Santa Barbara sedge, cattails—and, yes, poison oak.
|Long, flat, green blades of Santa Barbara sedge|
|Leaves of three, let it be!|
Just over 80 miles long, the Cosumnes River begins in the great Sierra Nevada mountains, deep in El Dorado National Forest. Its head waters rest at an elevation of 7,600 feet and the river is fueled mostly by rain runoff and some snowmelt. The three forks of the Cosumnes flow through lush conifer forests and tumble over the huge rocks of granite canyons. As the river drops into the drier foothill environment, it coalesces into one channel. Oaks and gray pines dominate the landscape.
In the Central Valley the river slows its flow and feeds the aquifer below. Less than a mile away from the preserve's slough and river trails, the water of the Cosumnes River joins that of the Mokelumne River on its way into San Francisco Bay.
|Tihuechemne Slough/Cosumnes River junction|