Saturday, January 25, 2014
Now’s the right time of season to get out and meander around the Sacramento Delta in search of Sandhill Cranes and other migratory birds. This flat ride heads east from Isleton out to the Consumnes River Preserve with a stop in Locke; a National Historic Landmark and a CA State Park.
We begin from the small town of Isleton which is located along the Sacramento River in the California Delta. Old Chinatown on Main St still has many of its original buildings; remnants of a bygone era when Chinese laborers settled here to work on the levees, docks and warehouses.
We exit town on River Rd/Hwy 160 to Tyler Island Bridge Rd; this road goes through a residential neighborhood at Fertile Acres to the Tyler Island drawbridge over Georgiana Slough.
We cross the bridge onto Tyler Bridge Rd; the 4.7 miles on this winding flat levee road follows along Georgiana Slough through the open agricultural farmlands and vineyards.
We head north on Race Track Rd; this road runs between the open fields around Georgiana Slough and the Sacramento-San Joaquin River. Here we catch our first sighting of birds; a siege of White Herons and a screech of White Gulls out around the marshy areas. Race track Rd continues through the nut orchards and farms out to Walnut Grove-Thornton Rd.
Walnut Grove-Thornton Rd takes us along the outskirts of Walnut Grove through the industrial packing houses and vineyards to the Sacramento-San Joaquin River crossing on the Thornton Rd drawbridge.
We head south on Staten Island Rd for the possibility of more birds and we are not disappointed! Sieges of Sandhill Cranes can be seen and heard from the reeds around the flooded crop lands-WOW!
Further down the road, there are squadrons of Tundra Swans out around the open wetlands-WOW!
We turn around at the point where the paved road transitions to gravel at approximately 2.2 miles in; on the way out, I catch a few photos of a sedge of cranes flying high above us-amazing!
From Staten Island Rd, we head east on Walnut Grove Rd through the farmlands and vineyards to Thornton for a quick pit stop at the Chevron Station.
Thornton Rd takes us through a residential area with old farmhouses, ranches and barns, it continues north through the many orchards and vineyards towards Franklin Blvd. We spot a hawk perched above one of the trees in the orchard.
We cross the bridge over Mokelumne River on Franklin Blvd to our lunch stop at the Consumnes River Preserve Visitor Center.
Across from the Visitor Center, there is a boardwalk that connects to the Wetlands Walk Trail; Bicycles are not allowed on the boardwalk but you can lock it up at the parking lot and take a stroll to check out the paddling of migratory ducks around the marshes and wetlands.
We stay on Franklin Blvd and cross the RR tracks onto Desmond Dr; this is another great area for viewing wildlife. We spot another hawk perched above a tree over a paddling of ducks around the wetlands.
Across the way, there are gaggles of snow geese, ross geese and white fronted geese out around the low lying marshes.
On Bruceville Rd, you can hear and see the plumps of White Fronted Geese, Snow and Ross Geese out around the open wetlands-WOW!
The turn on Twin Cities Rd takes us through the vast expansive agricultural and pastoral lands around the delta. Acres and acres of vineyards sit alongside fields of solar panels with grazing cattle nearby.
We cross the bridge over Snodgrass Slough and continue along the flats to River Rd.
River Rd takes us long the Sacramento River to our next stop at Locke; a Chinese community listed as a National Historic Landmark and CA State Park.
Locke Rd takes us down towards the Locke Visitors center at the Old Boarding House. Since it’s now a State Park, there are new restroom facilities and a public parking lot at the end of the road-fantastic!
We hop off our bikes and walk along Main St; it’s really wonderful to see the original buildings still intact and the preservation of this whole town. Talk about six degrees of separation; I have a friend from high school whose Dad was originally from Locke and he ran the gambling halls in its hey days!
The Joe Shoong Chinese School is now a museum; updated with a bust of Confucius and Dr Sun Yet Sun in front. Locke Memorial Park sits near the center of town; it’s dedicated to the Chinese who built the railroad, levees and agriculture of California. Did you know that the town was built entirely by the Chinese? Our forefathers do not get enough credit for their help in the shaping of this country.
A lot of the motorcycles that rumble through this town and stop at Al’s the Wop’s for beer, good cheer and eats! The vintage signs throughout town are noteworthy.
This is some of the artwork at Ning Hou’s Art Gallery:
The old wooden buildings around the corner on Levee Rd house a few antique shops with plenty of knick-knacks and kitschy junk items.
Locke Garden Chinese Restaurant was Locke’s first building, built in 1912-it use to be a beer parlor. The next time I’m out this way, I’m going to make a point of having lunch here-why not right?
We exit Locke and stay on River Rd to Walnut Grove.
We cross the green Walnut Grove Bridge over the Sacramento River to River Rd/Hwy 160 to the next town-Ryde.
CA-220 takes us west along the flatlands and waterways through the orchards and vineyards to Grand Island Rd. We spot another Hawk perched above a power line.
Grand Island Rd is a winding levee road that runs SW along Steamboat Slough with miles and miles of grand views of the surrounding rich farmlands, cattle ranches, vineyards and orchards.
The road turns east and follows the Sacramento River towards the yellow Isleton Bridge.
We cross the bridge and take River Rd/Hwy 160 back to Isleton.
This is a fabulous ride with a lot of things to do and see, you just have to slow down and enjoy it all! Even for a Saturday, we didn’t encounter much traffic and all the motorists out on the road gave us more than 3 feet when passing. This is another glorious California day-but we do need RAIN!
49.06 Miles with 358′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 47′
Max grade: 5%
Weather: Splendid! Sunny and warm with temps ranging from the high 50’s to the low 70’s. Mild NE winds with 27% humidity
After a while, you just want to be with the one that makes you laugh.
Follow this route for today’s ride: