Photo by Elizabeth Carmel

Photo by Elizabeth Carmel

As snow gives way to bare earth, the aspens, alders and willows begin to turn green again, and the red heads of snowplant begin to push through the soil, Truckee Donner Land Trust's Waddle Ranch is one of the first hikes each spring ready to be explored.

Early season conditions will still exist, so please tread lightly on soft or muddy stretches of trail, and give us a call and let us know if you come across any down trees on the trail, or other repairs in need of our attention.

Start out on Matt's trail(the first mile is the road crossing Martis Creek Dam) from Martis Dam Road. Keep an eye to your right for osprey and bald eagle fishing Martis Creek Reservoir - and depending on the time of year - migratory waterfowl. Once across the dam the trail becomes dirt, crosses a drainage, and turns abruptly east (left). At the first intersection you can choose between Royal Flush Trail on the left for a more direct route to Lake Ella - another great birding spot, or right to stay with Matt's Trail and a detour on Erika's trail to the Linker Family Meadow - a perfect place for a picnic.

Proceeding along the south side of Lake Ella, Katy's Walk is an excellent option for spotting birds and other wildlife. Visitors have seen coyote, mule deer, mountain lion, black bear and other animals on the Waddle Ranch Preserve, and work is underway to restore sugar pine to the forest here.

Need to know:
- From State Route 267, turn north onto Martis Dam Road. Proceed to the trailhead at the junction of Glider Port Road and Martis Dam Road.
- Trails are open to hiking, running and bicycling.
- Dogs must be on a leash so as not to disturb wildlife.
- For even longer outings, you can connect to Elizabethtown Meadows Trail.

For a map and more information, click here.

Greyson Howard