Great Place for a Walk: Dixon's Hidden Nature Preserve

A 1.2-mile walk for birdwatchers, photographers, dog walkers, joggers, and everyone else

For those who like to walk or run (or walk with dogs) around Dixon there’s a certain out-of-the-way spot known to only a lucky few. But not that out-of-the-way – it’s right on the edge of town. I’m afraid that revealing it will bring too many visitors and ruin the wild solitude, but then I’ve never been very good about keeping secrets.

The City of Dixon maintains a storm-water holding area just beyond the southernmost homes and apartments in the city – and to the west of Dixon High School and Hwy. 113. You’d never see it driving because it’s hidden behind a levee. To get to it, drive to the western end of Parkway Boulevard from Hwy. 113. You’ll see a small, city-owned building there, and a parking spot next to it for two or three cars. Next to that lot, you’ll see a gate opening in the fence that surrounds the water containment area. Enter through the gate and walk up to a gravel road on top the levee.

The road runs around the entire water holding area in a loop, and as I recall, you’re not always walking on top the levee (at times, the levee is between the road and the watery, marshy areas). On the other side of the loop road (which is about 1.2 miles long) are agricultural areas of fields and orchards. The road runs alongside Porter Road for a while.

In the dry portions of the year there are only several ponds inside the containment area. But this year, with all the rain, the ponds have been expanding greatly in size.

In you’re into birdwatching, you’ll see quite a variety of birds, with Canada geese being the most populous. With more water this year, there should be a greater variety of ducks. The most interesting animal I’ve seen is a river otter living in the pond on the northwest corner of the containment area (see the photos accompanying this blog). I have no idea how it came to live there, unless it was deliberately introduced. There are also rabbits.

You might want to add this pleasant loop to your roster of walking routes. It’s great to be able to get so close to nature right on the edge of the city.

All the bird pictures attached to this blog were shot along the walking route, with the exception of the vultures which were photographed nearby, over near Dixon High School.   

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Justin Cox (Editor) January 14, 2013 at 10:07 PM
These photos are awesome. I'm definitely going to take this walk as soon as the temperature goes up a tiny bit. Looks beautiful.
Amanda Morgan January 15, 2013 at 12:52 AM
Agree with the first comment! Love the photos! I definitely will take my little girls to go see it when the weather warms up a bit:-) thanks for sharing the secret spot!
J.r. Hesseltine January 16, 2013 at 05:54 PM
Do you Know why the city put a fence around it, as your walk around it you can see picnic table out there next to the ponds but noway to get to them. Would be nice if we could get the city to remove fences so we could access to them and the water for the dogs !!!
Bil Paul January 16, 2013 at 11:45 PM
I was told that the picnic table is for the use of fire crews that are allowed to camp out inside the fence from time to time. Right now, the picnic table is mostly under water!
Randy Davis January 17, 2013 at 12:38 AM
Jr. - Be thankful that the public can get in the "outer" fence. It took me about 5 years to get the City to unlock the outer fence gate. Lots of meetings and patience.
J.r. Hesseltine January 17, 2013 at 03:03 AM
Randy - thanx for all your hard work but i do remeber when 7 yrs ago it was all open and i also live in valley glen i just think they should of never closed it off since we the home owners here in valley glen had to pay for those pumps and ect ...
Bil Paul January 17, 2013 at 04:34 AM
There are signs on the inner fence that say something like "private property." They should say, "public property."
J.r. Hesseltine January 17, 2013 at 05:48 AM
yeah it should and we should get to use it !!!
Randy Davis January 17, 2013 at 06:34 AM
I can see why the City wouldn't want the liability of allowing access to the water, which may not be safe since it is from storm drains and street runoff. In addition, the birds don't need to be disturbed by dogs or people. However, it is not "private property".


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