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Hiking with Sally on the Stockton Creek Nature Preserve

Sally and I chose one of the coldest days this year to get out, hiking Stockton Creek Nature Preserve and we had those trails all to ourselves. Not too far from home, not too difficult, this hike was a short one.

Where: Mariposa Public Utilities District, Sierra Foothill Conservancy, Stockton Creek Nature Preserve
Distance: 2.83 Miles
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Elevation Range: 2,203′ – 2.421′
Date: February 4, 2020
Maps: Ben Hur, Buckingham Mountain Topographic Quads
Dog Hike? Yes

I drove through Mariposa and northeast on Highway 140, parking at the large dirt parking area at the gated entrance to Stockton Creek Nature Preserve off of Hwy 49, about .8 of a mile above Old Hwy. The trail or road that Sally and I walked along was actually the Old Trabucco Street.






We walked through a trail easement donated by the Fischer Family through their adjacent property, then we entered the Stockton Creek Preserve. The Stockton Creek Preserve is a unique partnership project between Sierra Foothill Conservancy (SFC) and Mariposa Public Utility District (MPUD). The completion of this 410 acre preserve and trail system provides domestic water supply protection, viewshed conservation, recreation opportunities, and fire hazard reduction. SFC worked in partnership with MPUD to develop the project and complete the 410 acre Stockton Creek Preserve with the county agency in December 2011. MPUD now owns and manages the property for its public benefits in perpetuity.

The Stockton Creek Preserve surrounds The Stockton Creek Reservoir, provides immediate watershed protection for the town’s primary domestic water resource. The Preserve is open to the public where you can enjoy a hike just on the edge of town on the network of trails on the preserve. The first .2 miles of the trail or old road goes through private property, so be sure and stick on that road. The road will fork and we headed to the right.




It was a cold morning for the foothills, 31 when I hit the trail about 830. Puddles were still frozen and remained that way all morning.





My strategy for the hike was to first head down to the Stockton Creek Reservoir, named after Robert F. Stockton who owned a mine and stamp mill during the California Gold Rush. The Mariposa Public Utilities District (MPUD) operates the 95 foot tall Stockton Creek Dam on Stockton Creek and it holds a major source of water for the community of Mariposa. I wanted to catch the reservoir when it was glassy and hopefully there would be some waterfowl on it.

Sally and I then headed back the way we came on the road to where the trail left the road. There are many ways you can start a hike here but I wanted to hit the trail to head up hill and work my way down the hill.








Sally led the way.

The trail was well maintained and crunchy from the icy dirt. Toyon was sporting its bright red berries and I could see the naked stalks of poison oak along the trail. As I reached an opening, I looked down at Stockton Reservoir.

The trail led me down the Stockton Creek drainage, zigzagging its way down the hill. As I lost elevation, I spotted the reservoir through an opening.



I mentioned that the trail was well maintained but there was an occasional spot where I had to duck or crawl over a log.




We reached the main trail or old road that had probably lived many lives in the past but one had something to do with the water supply.



Sally and I then headed back toward the car on the main dirt road. Almost to the car, we checked out some old stuff that had long ago been disposed of along the road. I couldn’t help but ponder what their old uses were before being thrown away.






We didn’t hike far or long but had a nice little outing on a chilly day.

You can hike on this Preserve on your own but 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?

Yes. This is the only one of our local Preserves that dogs are welcome but there are some dangers to be aware of. This area is loaded with poison oak and your dog will pick up the oils on their coats, possible sharing them with you or your family when they get home. There are also many rattlesnakes in the area. The Stockton Creek Reservoir serves as drinking water for the town of Mariposa. The reservoir is a restricted area and no public access is allowed because of it being a drinking water source. So, you will need to provide drinking water for your dog. Here is the dog policy for the Sierra Foothill Conservancy:

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.

Leave No Trace: Leave the Preserve as you found it – try to follow the Seven Leave No Trace Principles. THANK YOU and hope to see you in the Great Outdoors!


What is a Doarama?  It is a video playback of the GPS track overlaid on a 3 dimensional interactive map. If you “grab” the map, you can tilt it or spin it and look at it from different viewing angles. With the rabbit and turtle buttons, you can also speed it up, slow it down or pause it.

Stockton Creek Preserve Hike Doarama

Maps and Profile:

Stockton Creek Preserve Hike Topographic Map

Stockton Creek Preserve Hike Profile

Stockton Creek Preserve Map (Courtesy Sierra Foothill Conservancy)


Sierra Foothill Conservancy Home Page

Stockton Creek Preserve

Stockton Creek Wikipedia

California Herps Home Page

Prior Blogs in the Area:

Hiking with Amphibians and Reptiles on the Stockton Creek Nature Preserve April 15, 2019


  1. I drove through Mariposa and northeast on Highway 140, parking at the large dirt parking area at the gated entrance to Stockton Creek Nature Preserve off of Hwy 49, about .8 of a mile above Old Hwy.

    enjoyed the write up though I believe you meant to say off hwy 140 there

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