Best trails in Ellis Creek Water Recycling Facility , California

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Explore the most popular trails in Ellis Creek Water Recycling Facility with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.
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Map of trails in Ellis Creek Water Recycling Facility , California
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#1 - Ellis Creek Pond Loop
Ellis Creek Water Recycling Facility
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Length: 1.9 mi • Est. 47 m
According to Access Northern California ( The Petaluma wetlands complex encompasses some 500 acres of tidal salt marshes and freshwater marshes, and has more than 7 miles of contiguous public trails that connect Alman Marsh, Shollenberger Park, and Ellis Creek. The wetlands are a birder's paradise; more than 225 species of birds have been identified here. On a clear day you can see Mt. Diablo to the south; to the east lies Sonoma Mountain, a long-dormant volcano. Shollenberger Park is tucked inside an industrial park on the banks of the Petaluma River. A 2-mile loop trail circles the park; a 1-mile extension to the north leads through Alman Marsh to the Petaluma Marina. At the park’s northeast end you can connect to a 3-mile network of trails circling the polishing ponds at the Ellis Creek water recycling facility. To the west, a portion of the trail system parallels the Petaluma River; beyond it are hills clustered with native oaks. The Ellis Creek water recycling facility is a great example of how a sewage processing and water purification plant can provide public and ecological benefits, from wildlife habitat restoration to recreational trails. Three miles of trails circle four elevated, bermed "polishing" wetlands, where heavy metals are removed in the final stage of water treatment. Tidal sloughs, a brackish marsh, mudflats, and riparian corridor occupy this expanse of open space; hills to the east and west provide the backdrop. Interpretive signs along the trails provide information about sewage treatment, wetlands, and the waterfowl and birds found here. When you're done with your hike, be sure to check out the water conservation garden at the water recycling facility’s administration building, east from where you parked. The native plantings were colorful and attract butterflies, birds, and bees. ACCESSIBILITY: There is designated accessible parking (van accessible, firm, level or slope no greater than 2%) for Ellis Marsh at the end of Cypress Dr. There are wheelchair-accessible bathrooms at the parking lots for Shollenberger and Ellis Creek. The trail starts off as decomposed granite and is typically at least four feet wide with an estimated gentle grade. A few hundred feet from the trailhead, the trail splits. To the right, a 0.3-mile connector trail leads to Shollenberger Park; stay to the left to reach the ponds trails. At this junction, is a lone stately oak. After a flat stretch you climb a gentle incline (the only one), and immediately after the trail changes from firm decomposed granite to dirt and gravel for the remainder of the way. Although bumpy, it is likely doable for power wheelchairs, but may be more challenging in a manual wheelchair or with regular strollers. For the longest trip, circle each pond, or you can just make one big loop around their outer edges. Each pond seems to offer a different experience. At the first two, swans cruise around the water while a great blue heron and a night heron stood onshore. At another, mallards cruise in and out of the water. The last is called Butterfly Pond and has an irregular shoreline to provide a beach and roosting areas for birds and waterfowl.Show more