Enjoying Suisun Marsh by Boat

On a recent weekday I had the opportunity to visit Suisun Marsh with the US Geological Survey on their boats.  While this is a rare privilege, you can enjoy Suisun Marsh on your motor boat, canoe or kayak.  The tides and the size of your boat will be be a factor in how maneuverable you are inside the Marsh.

There are two launches where Suisun Marsh is easily accessible:

1.  Belden’s Landing Water Facility in Suisun


2.  Suisun City Marina


Wear your life jacket and sunscreen.  It will surely be windy.  You can fish, enjoy a quiet paddle or go birding (bring your field glasses and your camera).

As mentioned in the Rush Ranch post, you may want to climb Suisun Hill to get an idea of where you’ll be exploring by boat.

I am not an experienced boater, but my time on the water convinced me to seek out more boating experiences in the Delta.


Enjoy a Family Day at Rush Ranch, Suisun Marsh

Lucky for everyone, the Rush Family operated their ranch in the 2oth Century as a tidal marsh.  This means they never built levees and so much of the native landscape is beautifully, naturally intact.  They also left behind a legacy of quaint historic buildings that the Solano Land Trust now operates as Rush Ranch.

It is not far from Fairfield.  (see driving directions below)  Offering self-guided hiking trails on most of the 2070 acres, it is a great place to take a hike with your picnic lunch on a pretty spring day.  Rush Ranch is open 7 days a week from 8 a.m. until dusk (or 7 p.m.).

Every 3rd Saturday of the month the Land Trust hosts “Get the Rush” with fun family activities.  To learn about the all of the things to see and do from 10-1, check out http://www.solanolandtrust.org/CalendarList.aspx?hCalendar=1.

Brackish tidal marsh suffers for having a name that sounds so unattractive.  It means that the water is a mix of sea and fresh water and is subject to tidal influences.  These conditions make it excellent for over 230 species of native plants and animals, including endangered Delta Smelt.  It is also a great place for ducks, and shorebirds.


Behind the main ranch buildings (just beyond the horse arena), there is a path to the top of a small hill that provides a rare aerial view of the wetlands.  From there you can see the complex of sloughs that feed into the larger Suisun Slough.  When you are hiking in the middle of the Ranch you will enjoy seeing the tules and other plants up close yet the elevation is so flat that it is difficult to gain perspective.    The hilltop is also a great place to see where you might want to return by boat and explore from the water.Spend a few minutes at the visitor center orientating yourself to the special challenges of hiking in a tidal marsh.  The tide changes over the course of hours, not minutes.  Still, you do not want to be caught out in the marsh after the sun goes down:  the tide will come up and it will quickly become freezing cold water.

The wind is a fairly constant factor:  bring sunscreen, a hat with a tie down, good hiking shoes and a friend to check for ticks.  Dogs on a leash are welcome on the Suisun Hill Trail (bring your plastic bags to clean up!).

Directions to Rush Ranch:

3521 Grizzly Island Road, 2 miles south of Suisun City, CA

Rush Ranch is located approximately 2 miles south of Suisun City on Grizzly Island Road.

From Sacramento – take Interstate-80 west to Fairfield and exit at Abernathy Road turning left towards Highway 12. Turn left onto Highway 12 and proceed approximately 3 miles to Grizzly Island Rd. Turn right on Grizzly Island Rd and proceed approximately 2 miles to ranch entrance on right.

From San Francisco – take Interstate-80 east to Fairfield and exit at Highway 12 to Rio Vista. Proceed on Highway 12 approximately 3 miles to Grizzly Island Rd. Turn right on Grizzly Island Rd and proceed approximately 2 miles to ranch entrance on right.