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Hiking to Striped Rock with the Sierra Foothill Conservancy

Wildflowers were celebrating Earth Day at the Striped Rock Conservation Preserve, one of the Sierra Foothill Conservancy’s special areas that you can only visit with one of their docents.

Where: Sierra Foothill Conservancy, Striped Rock Conservation Preserve
Distance: 4.49 Miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation Range: 1,720′ – 2,160′
Date: April 22, 2018
Maps: Ben Hur Topographic Quad
Dog Hike? No

I had heard of Striped Rock but never been to it, so when I saw that the Sierra Foothill Conservancy was leading a hike on this private property, I signed up.  I learned that this was their annual Earth Day hike on the Striped Rock Easement. We met Docents Ben Goger and John Paul Soloman at the Mariposa Fairgrounds, then caravanned down Ben Hur Road to a wide spot where we all parked, then received a briefing.

Here is a little information about this location from the Sierra Foothill Conservancy:

Striped Rock Ranch is a 450 acre Conservation Development located 10 minutes outside of Mariposa, CA and about 40 minutes from Yosemite National Park. It is the home of the Striped Rock Conservation Preserve, an active wildlife and habitat preserve. The conservation easement is monitored and enforced by the Sierra Foothill Conservancy.

The Preserve consists of Live Oak woodland, Blue Oak, scattered Bull Pines and intervening pastureland. It is actively grazed and cattle will continue in the Preserve as part of its habitat management plan. Moderate to large rock outcroppings are typical and diverse and complex land forms. Dramatic views are possible from ridge lines: to the east the Sierras, to the south, Striped Rock Creek valley and to the west, Lookout Mountain.

Rather than being developed with over 60 lots, as entitled by existing zoning, only 8 lots have been created, mostly at the north end of the Preserve. All lots are technically within the Preserve and covered by the conservation easement that regulates land impacts, future subdividing and visual character.

The last three of these lots are now available ranging in size from 6.8 to 10.7 acres.

30 people participated in this hike and I learned that 18 of them were members of  the Clovis North Hiking Club. Lily Waldrop put together this hiking club at her high school and they hike once a month. Last month they hiked Pa’san Ridge Trail in the San Joaquin River Gorge Special Recreation Management Area and next month they were hiking Yosemite Falls in Yosemite National Park. Lily started the hiking club when she was a Freshman and the club has grown ever since, now up to 90 members. They like to explore the Central Valley and the beauty it has. She grew up hiking and wanted to share. What an incredible young lady to  come up with this idea and get it going, sharing the joy of the outdoors with so many.

We started up the trail through oak woodland.

Then we headed over a small granite dome, a perfect place to take a break and talk about the geology of the area.

Victor Caldwell

Photo by Victor Caldwell

And that granite dome was bordered by beautiful wildflowers. We sat for a while and Ben worked with us on identifying the flowers.

One of my favorite foothill wildflowers, Harlequin Lupine, was really showing off for us.

We could see Striped Rock in front of us and now had a good idea of how we would be heading up to it.

Victor Caldwell

Photo by Victor Caldwell

Then we tackled a more challenging short stretch through some boulders.

Next we headed up through a sensitive plant area, single file. I need to share that poison oak was everywhere and we tried our best to avoid it but it was unavoidable.

Our path was lined by all kinds of beautiful colors of wildflowers. There were lots of poppies, lupine and other flowers.

We reached the base of Striped Rock, the large granite dome that we would be heading up and took a little breather. As I looked closer at the granite, I could see a small and delicate fern growing in the cracks.

It was time to head up.

All along our climb up the dome, flowers were tucked in the cracks. Those harlequin lupine must have especially liked this dome.

A tiny sedum was tucked in the cracks and it was blooming with bright yellow flowers.

As we reached the upper portion of the dome, I realized that it was not all rock. Small areas with soil supported beautiful patches of wildflowers that included Owl’s clover, lupine and poppies.

We stopped at the top for lunch, admiring the views.

After a while, it was time to head down.

Victor Caldwell

Photo by Victor Caldwell

Victor Caldwell

Photo by Victor Caldwell

Back down through those colorful wildflowers.

It was a warm afternoon and we took a break under the oak trees, some of the hikers listening to songbirds and identifying the species.

I wandered around a bit, looking at the wildflowers.

And I played hide and seek with a spider.

This was a very unique experience to visit beautiful lands with unique habitats that i normally would not be able to see.  The people who have entered into agreements with the Sierra Foothill Conservancy to protect these lands and to share them are to be thanked.

I want to thank our Docents on this fun adventure and loved learning new things about the outdoors. If you are interested in going on one of these guided hikes on the Sierra Conservancy land, there are many choices on their website linked at the end of this blog. You can sign up online and if you are a member, there is no cost. Don’t worry if you are not a member though because the cost is minimal, $5 for this hike. The funds go to a wonderful cause, protecting our foothill lands. They also have some Open Preserve Days which there is no charge to attend.

The mission of the Sierra Foothill Conservancy is as follows:

  • Protects wildlife & preserves native flora
  • Provides educational and recreational opportunities for the community
  • Promotes scientific study of foothill ecosystems
  • Maintains open space and beautiful vistas

The Sierra Foothill Conservancy is a non-profit public benefit corporation under the Internal Revenue Service Code Section 501(c)(3) and California Revenue and Taxation Code Section 23701d. Contributions are deductible for federal income tax purposes.

Dog Hike? No

DOG POLICY: In order to protect endangered species and sensitive habitat, only service dogs are allowed on the Preserves, with the exception of the Stockton Creek Preserve in Mariposa where dogs are welcome at any time.

Maps and Profile:

Striped Rock Preserve Doarama

Striped Rock Conservation Preserve Hike Topographic Map

Striped Rock Conservation Preserve Hike Profile

Sources:

Sierra Foothill Conservancy Home Page

Striped Rock Conservation Preserve

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