This nature area is part of the American River Parkway System. The preserve is open year-round for walking from dawn until dusk, but the Nature Center itself has changing hours of operation depending on the season, but it’s generally open at 9:00 am Tuesday through Saturday.
• Easy to Locate? Yes
• Pet Friendly? No. No pets or horses. No bicycles and no smoking.
• Easy to Walk? Yes. The trails are easy to navigate and easy to walk. Some will lead you right down to the bank of the American River. The ground there is very rocky, so be careful.
• Is there a Fee? Yes. You can pay for a day pass at the kiosk on the way into the preserve area or at the nature center (when it’s open).
• Are there Restrooms? Yes. There’s one near the kiosk which is open all the time. There are also restrooms in the nature center but are accessible only when the center is open.
• Is there Accessible Parking? Yes
• Other Notes: This is one of my all time favorite places to walk. You can see something different in every season, including newborn fawns in the summer, jousting bucks in the fall, fungi in the winter, and wildflowers in the spring.
I do a lot of Trail Walking here at the preserve (usually once a week on Tuesday mornings, but sometimes twice a week).
You’re welcome to join me if you’d like to.
All of the trails throughout the 100-acre preserve are easy to walk and include interpretive signage (and even access to an audio walking tour via cell phone) to help you identify what you’re looking at along the way. No bicycles or horses are allowed on the trails.
Each trail is about 3/4-mile long, and they loop together if you’re feeling up to a longer round-about walk. This is a riverside riparian area, so you’ll get the opportunity to see a wide variety of birds, insects, plants and animals along the trails. The preserve boasts a large population of Acorn Woodpeckers, Wild Turkeys and Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, along with lots of other local wildlife, insects, fungi, songbirds and waterfowl. Many of the female deer seem to raise their youngsters in this quiet and secluded preserve, and it’s not uncommon to see mothers and offspring together in small groups along the trails.
The Nature Center itself includes glassed-in enclosures for the wild creatures the center staff helps to rehabilitate (usually owls and hawks), a small gift shop, and a display area that shows visitors information about the creatures and plants that reside in and around the preserve.
Outside of the Nature Center there is also a tiny wetlands pond, a native plants garden, and an extraordinary replica of a Nisenan Maidu village including large grinding stones and tule huts. You can picnic at the tables adjacent to the Nature Center, but not along the trails.
How to Get to the Preserve
The preserve is located at:
Ancil Hoffman County Park, 2850 San Lorenzo Way, off Tarshes Drive in Carmichael CA 95608
It’s in the middle of a residential area, so be cognizant of traffic and bicyclist as well as wildlife.
• Take Highway 50 East to Watt Avenue.
• Turn LEFT onto Watt Avenue and take it to Fair Oaks Blvd.
• Turn RIGHT onto Fair Oaks Blvd. and stay on it until you get to the traffic light at Van Alstine Avenue.
• Turn RIGHT onto Van Alstine Avenue
• Turn LEFT onto California Avenue
• Turn RIGHT onto Tarshes Drive
o You’ll pass by the Ancil Hoffman golf course (on your right) and arrive at a Ranger check-station where there’s a STOP sign. Pay here at the kiosk. ((I purchase a year-round pass, so I can go there as often as I like. Passes can be purchased at the American River Parkway Foundation website))
o You can also use the restroom facility at this turnout.
• Continue on down Tarshes Drive until you get to a T-intersection at San Lorzeno Way
• Turn LEFT onto San Lorzeno Way and it will take you to the parking lot in front of the preserve.
Be careful not to try to go around the back of the parking lot. You’ll get into a one-way zone with tire-shredding spikes, and it’s VERY difficult to turn around in there.
If you miss the Lorenzo Way sign, you’ll end up down in the golf course area. Don’t panic. There are parking lots there where you can turn around and head back up Tarshes to Lorenzo Way.
For more information, see the Effie Yeaw webage.