Winter Hike to the River

Before all our rain and snow, we had the opportunity to visit one of our favorite spots on the river.

Cronan Ranch 1 Long Valley Trail
We chose the Long Valley Trail this time which is a little less than two miles down to the river. It is a long sloping walk so it is very enjoyable even on a chilly, hazy day.

Cronan Ranch 2 Cattails
The first thing we noticed was that their were many brown cattails along the trail where there is a little creek running. Of course we had to stop and take a look.

Cronan Ranch 3 Cattails
You see right where the water runs because the cattails are growing along the edges of the creek.

Cronan Ranch 4 Homestead and Oaks
About half-way to the river, there is an old homestead with some lovely old oaks. The tree swallows were swarming in the tops of the trees and we enjoyed stopping to watch them and listen for a few minutes. I love the silhouettes of the winter oaks.

Cronan Ranch 5 Moss Lichen and Plants
The greens and reds on this rock caught my attention and I loved the composition of the various mosses, lichens, and plants growing together on the rock. Very pretty.

Cronan Ranch 6 hazy day and the river
Once we reached the river, the kids and our dog were all off and running. Some climbed rocks, some skipped rocks on the water, the dog went swimming for sticks and I spent some time enjoying the reflections and ripples in this little eddy off the main part of the river.

Cronan Ranch 7 Tree in the rocks
How do these trees grow so large out of the middle of a huge rock? Perseverance.

Cronan Ranch 8 rocks in the river
Eventually we all sat at the river’s edge and watched the water flow by on its way down the mountain. This is the American River where gold was discovered in 1848. We all joke about someday finding a gold nugget along the edge but for now we are content to marvel at all the different types of rock found all together in one spot.

Cronan Ranch 9 winter weeds
One last photo to share of our day. Winter weeds can be quite lovely if you really take a look at them. I found these growing on the edge of the water and with the nice backdrop, it makes for a nice photo.

Well, there are a few of our experiences from last weekend. What started out as a chilly, dreary day turned out to be quite refreshing. We headed home hungry so I was glad I had planned a big spaghetti dinner.

If you are looking for some winter nature study ideas, you may want to check out the entry I wrote last year giving some simple ideas for winter nature study…most indoors.

Winter Nature Study-Taking it Inside


  1. Will start my granddaughter soon with all your wonderful teachings and ideas. I love the winter weeds too. Emailed you a haiku & photo I did yesterday.

  2. I have been reading your blog for a while and love seeing what you do with your kids. Although I’m super lax and don’t do activities – I have bought Anna’s book. When I see your posts – I’m always reminded to get outside with my kids… Thank you for that. Also, that photo of the rocks is awesome!

  3. What pretty colors in those rocks! That “Perseverance” tree made for a great photo and a good lesson. I enjoy taking photos of winter weeds, too. When you get close up and notice the details, they are really beautiful. Enjoy your weekend!

  4. Beautiful photos! It’s fun to see what winter nature study looks like in another part of our country. Thanks for sharing!

  5. The pictures are beautiful. What fun to climb along the rocks and play. My kids have a hard time resisting them too!:)

  6. Hey, those rocks look familiar! (I guess rocks are rocks no matter what continent you’re on.) [smile]

    I think I’m going to make a lens on nature study at the river. In doing research, guess whose blog keeps coming up? [another smile]

    Expect to get linked.

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