Wildflower Ridge Preserve

128 Acres, Established 2023

Access: Public access allowed.

Located a couple of miles outside of downtown Grass Valley on Ridge Road at Rough & Ready Highway, Wildflower Ridge Preserve offers a unique mix of hardwood and conifer forest with a rare concentration of native plants and beautiful wildflower meadows on lava cap soils. The extensive heritage black oak groves and conifer forest provides habitat for spotted owls, while the riparian areas along the canals and spillways make homes for additional wildlife. Wildflower Ridge Preserve also boasts two popular public trails, Wildflower Ridge Trail and the Rough & Ready Ditch Trail.

Cool Facts: Long at risk for subdivision and development, Wildflower Ridge Preserve is now permanently protected for everyone to enjoy – forever. Wildflower Ridge Preserve will also contain a Cultural Conservation Easement that BYLT will donate to the Nevada City Rancheria Nisenan Tribe, providing permanent land rights and access for Tribal members.

Flora and Fauna:

Wildflower Ridge Preserve has a lava cap rock formation along the ridge, which is popular among botanists, community members, and local schools because it is known to have unique and threatened wildflowers. Heritage groves of black oaks also occur on the Property and 25 landmark black oaks have been identified, with one black oak measuring 60 inches diameter. The mixed hardwood and conifer forest also provide spotted owl habitat.

According to the Redbud Chapter of the California Native Plant Society, over 100 plant species have been identified on just 25 acres. Some of the native and unique plants include tree species black oak (Quercus kelloggii), gray pine (Pinus sabiniana), madrone (Arbutus menziesii), and Sierra plum (Prunus subcordata); and shrub species white-leaf manzanita (Arctostaphylos viscida), coffeeberry (Frangula californica) and poison oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum). Wildflower Ridge Preserve is also known for its forb species, including its bounty of annual and perennial wildflowers come spring. Some of our favorites include the spurred snapdragon (Antirrhinum cornutum), wild hyacinth (Triteleia hyacinthina), and Pratten’s buckwheat (Eriogonum prattenianum), just to name a few.

For a more detailed list of species at Wildflower Ridge Preserve, as well as photos and resources for charting blooms, visit calfora.org at this link.

History: Wildflower Ridge Preserve lies within the historic Kenny Ranch, also known as part of  Hell’s Half Acre. Long at risk for subdivision, BYLT has monitored the property’s development risk status for decades due to the trail easements BYLT has held on the property for 20+ years. Wildflower Ridge Trail and Rough & Ready Ditch Trail, totaling two miles that encircle the property, have been popular public local trails and BYLT continues to expand these trails to connect with schools and downtown Grass Valley. Acquired by BYLT in August 2023 with support from the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, Wildflower Ridge Preserve joins BYLT’s 26,000+ acres of land permanently protected in the Bear and Yuba River watersheds.

What to do there: Wildflower Ridge Preserve contains two popular nature trails: Wildflower Ridge Trail (0.9 miles) which winds through open meadow and forested hillside between Twin Cities Church and A to Z Hardware, and the Rough & Ready Ditch Trail (1.0 mile) which follows the historic canal through the peaceful wooded slope. A hike utilizing both of the trails and connectors makes for a lovely day of hiking at a total of 2.6 miles. April through May are the prime months for seeing the brilliant displays of wildflowers in the meadows.

Hike Wildflower Ridge Trail
Hike Rough & Ready Ditch Trail

Future: BYLT intends to expand trails and outdoor recreation, including developing outdoor living classrooms, native pollinator gardens, and additional universally accessible trails.

How to get there: Located at 13167 Ridge Road in Grass Valley. To reach the trailheads, from the top of Mill Street in downtown Grass Valley go 1.4 miles west out of town on West Main Street (becomes Rough & Ready Highway) to the intersection of Rough & Ready Highway and Ridge Road. The east end trailhead is at the dirt parking area next to the A to Z Supply “Garden Center” on Ridge Road. (N39.22928 W121.07946). When church is not in service, you can use the parking lot at Twin Cities Church to access the trails.

Rules, regulations: Dogs on leash. No motorized vehicles. Stay on trail. No smoking or camping. No picking wildflowers. NO HUNTING.

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