A perfect year-round hike, this 6.9-mile lasso loop begins with a scenic stroll past Rancho Seco Lake. At mile one, head northeast into golden grasslands dotted with vernal pools in winter and spring (look for fairy shrimp and endangered California tiger salamander). After five miles, backtrack to the trailhead and cool down with a post-hike dip.
Info: Howard Ranch Trail
- Distance: 11.1
Location: 38.34044, -121.09656
Hike north from the parking area. The next mile traces the northern edge of Rancho Seco Lake.
Location: 38.343821, -121.084847
Cross the dirt road and pick up the trail on the other side.
Location: 38.346997, -121.076374
Turn right after crossing the dirt road and hike south.
Location: 38.344254, -121.076374
Turn left at the 3-way junction to begin the loop.
Location: 38.330623, -121.076159
Turn right and hike north.
Location: 38.336709, -121.076228
Bear right to stay on the trail.
Location: 38.344181, -121.076385
Continue straight at the 3-way junction and backtrack to the trailhead.