Immediately adjacent to Interstate 80, between San Francisco and Sacramento or Lake Tahoe, California, there is a quiet and wonderful park that isn’t commonly known– Lynch Canyon Open Space, a part of the Solano Land Trust.
The HI Travel Tales team, needing a break during a drive to the San Francisco Bay Area recently, hopped off the freeway and, in less than five minutes, we found ourselves driving under I-80 and entering a world of peace, relaxation and restoration.
Open Friday through Monday year-round, the Lynch Canyon Open Space is owned and operated by the Land Trust in Solano County. Parking is $5 and supports the efforts of the land trust to protect and maintain the land for public use.
The trails are very well maintained, but do realize that the area still is open to cattle grazing, so you very well may be sharing the paths with bovines and, yes, the requisite cow-produced steaming landmines. Trails wind along the Lynch Creek riparian corridor and then up along ridgelines in the park.
The highest points in the park offer excellent views of the San Francisco Bay and nearby Napa Valley, but be ready to hang onto your hat because it is often windy here as evidenced by the bent trees. Also, there is little tree cover so sunscreen is a must during warmer months. Be sure to pack water and snacks also. There are plenty of benches and numerous picnic tables scattered throughout Lynch Canyon Open Space … several tucked scenically into rocky overlooks dotted with a few trees. And many peaceful retreats may take only a short hike to reach, including tree-shrouded ravines.
Our route during our visit took us out from the parking area along Lynch Road to Tower Trail where we continued up to Middle Valley Trail and then back along the South Valley Trail. There is a reservoir along the way that reportedly is home to Blue Heron, muskrat and the endangered California red-legged frog – can’t say we saw any frogs hopping across our path though.
While the Lynch Canyon Open Space parking area was quite full upon our arrival, we encountered very few hikers or equestrians. With the promise of spectacular wildflowers (Johnny jump-ups, California poppies, brodiaea, milkmaids, yarrow and lupine) in the spring, we’re already contemplating our next highway escape in March or April should our travels take us, once again, into the Bay Area.
And to think this idyllic hillside retreat nearly became a landfill in the ‘80s. What a waste that would have been … pun fully intended.
Villagio Inn and Spa
Feather River Fish Hatchery
Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve
Table Mountain Preserve
Spring Wildflowers - Foresthill Divide Loop Trail
Lynch Canyon Open Space Preserve
Wofford Acres Vineyards
Apple Ridge Farms
Larsen Apple Barn
Smokey Ridge Farmstand and Charcuterie
Allez French restaurant
UC Davis Arboretum
Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History
Alhambra Theater Historic Site - Sacramento
Today, the former movie showplace is not much of a show. And not many folks seem to even be aware of the meaning of these palm trees, and non-functioning fountain as they dash in and out of the store for groceries. A plaque that was said to be placed there was nowhere to be found when I visited. Read our story here.
Palo Corona Regional Park - Carmel
South Yuba River State Park - Bridgeport
Underground Gardens - Fresno
The Underground Gardens is what it sounds like: A weaving labyrinth of caverns, rooms and passages all dug underground and filled with fruit trees, vines and plants in spaces that open to the sky. This oddity was built – or shall we say, dug – by Italian immigrant Baldassare Forestiere for about 38 years starting in 1906.