Blasting down Interstate 80 through Fairfield, it’s hard to believe that just a few miles off the highway lies a 2,070-acre swath of landscape little changed since before suburban sprawl began claiming the surrounding hills. Rush Ranch Open Space, owned and managed by the Solano Land Trust, is part working cattle ranch, part historic site and altogether an intriguing destination for DogTrekkers and their families.
Three loop trails, each about two miles long, track through various habitats on the ranch. Dogs aren’t allowed on the Marsh or South Pasture trails, but they’re welcome to join their people on the Suisun Hill Trail, which starts on Grizzly Island Road at the end of the driveway leading to the complex of historic buildings. This hike is best undertaken in spring, as the trail traverses open grassland offering plenty of views but not a lick of shade. The path meanders about 200 feet up the westernmost hump of the Portrero Hills to a summit with 360-degree views.
Pause awhile to rest Daisy’s paws, and you’re ready to descend to ranch headquarters, where you can check out the historic barn; the Sears kit house now home to the visitor center; the “graveyard” of antique farm equipment; and the stable of strikingly marked Stonewall Sporthorses belonging to Access Adventure, a company that uses wheelchair-accessible carriages to provide open-space recreation for people with disabilities. If you can leave your four-legged friend with a human friend for a few minutes, take a look inside the new, solar-powered nature center, where you’ll learn much about the natural history of the area.
Rush Ranch isn’t the only dog-friendly place to explore in this off-the-beaten-track neck of the woods. Just a few miles down Grizzly Island Road is Grizzly Island Wildlife Area , where miles of trails track across levees and through marsh and slough. In the other direction (toward Fairfield) is the bucolic Suisun Valley, where you might want to make a pit stop at the dog-friendly Wooden Valley or Ledgewood Creek wineries.