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-Kaweah Oaks Preserve, a 344-acre nature preserve, protects one of the last remaining valley oak riparian forests in the San Joaquin Valley.  This preserve is open to the public from dawn to dusk, 365 days per year.

When you walk along the trails at Kaweah Oaks Preserve, you can imagine how this area looked before it was settled over 100 years ago. The preserve provides habitat for over 300 plant and animal species, including bobcats, great horned owls, California grapes, willows, and the preserve's namesake - the majestic Valley Oak.

As a prime piece of land on the floor of the rich and fertile San Joaquin Valley, the preserve could have easily been developed. However, in 1983, concerned local citizens realized the importance of this land and partnered with The Nature Conservancy, who ultimately purchased it for protection. The title for the property was transferred from The Nature Conservancy to a local conservation organization, the Four Creeks Land Trust, and was eventually transferred to Sequoia Riverlands Trust through a series of mergers and changes. SRT uses sustainable land-management techniques focused on restoration ecology to manage the preserve for research, livestock grazing, environmental education, and public enjoyment.

Kaweah Oaks Preserve is open to the public year round, sunrise to sunset.  Amenities include parking, picnic tables, trail guides and restrooms. Please tread lightly and be respectful of grazing cattle. Remember to bring drinking water and sun protection, wear comfortable shoes, and watch for hazards such as rattlesnakes and ticks. Dogs are welcome on a leash, as long as owners pick up and discard waste. Bicycles are not allowed on any of the preserves except for Dry Creek Preserve. 

SRT prohibits the following at Kaweah Oaks Preserve: firearms, fishing or hunting, loud music, bicycles, fires, fireworks, glitter, balloons, horses or other livestock, and collecting plants or wood without permission.


Kaweah Oaks Preserve  is located seven minutes east of Visalia, California. Travel seven miles east of downtown Visalia via Highway 198, then turn north on Road 182; go one-half mile. The parking lot is on the west (left) side of the road. Walk through the kiosk and gate to enter the preserve.

0.38 miles/0.61 km.

The Haslinger Saenz Trail (formerly the Buttonwillow Trail) -- whose trailhead is near the preserve entrance -- is characterized by two very large, tree-sized buttonwillows that grow along the east side of the trail. The buttonwillow, or buttonbush, typically grows as a shrub and is named for the bright white, spherical flowers that bloom in the summer, attracting bees and butterflies. This shady trail takes you past a reforestation project of several hundred trees which enhanced the habitat of an area previously heavily invaded by milk thistle and poison hemlock. The trail heads south along Road 182, then west as it follows Johnson Slough, finally bringing you to the Alan George Picnic Area where the trail ends. The trail was named for Erin Haslinger Saenz as part of Energy Upgrade California's "Keep it Golden" energy conservation program which gifted three Californians the rights to Rename California's special places.

For information on how you can name protected lands in honor of a loved one, cherished pet, or yourself, visit the SRT Rename California's Heartland page by clicking here.

0.38 miles/0.61 km.

The shady Elderberry Trail runs parallel to Kaweah Oaks' main lane through the preserve and Johnson Slough. It features many fine specimens of its namesake, the blue elderberry. For most of the year elderberries flower and provide valuable sustenance for pollinating insects and hummingbirds before their berries feed birds, squirrels, and coyotes. Stop by the shore of Johnson Slough and, in the summer, note the tall thickets of tules, the reed from which Tulare county got its name. Tules can be used to make baskets, houses, food, canoes, and more. Thanks to SRT's collaboration with Sequoia Brewing Company, Kaweah Oaks Preserve Elderberry Trail Ale was a hit throughout the San Joaquin Valley. The limited batch craft brew featured handpicked berries from this locale.

0.375 miles/0.6 km

Enjoy aromatic mugwort and beautiful California wild roses along the Skip Pescosolido Wild Rose Trail. This location also provides opportunities to observe wild grapes and towering valley oaks. In 2015, the family of the late Exeter citrus business leader Skip Pescosolido dedicated the trail in his honor.

0.25 miles/0.4 km

The Grapevine Trail features curtains of three-story-high California wild grape vines growing skyward into the canopies of valley oak trees. Look for ripening grapes in summer and early fall as you hike this lush trail.

0.78-miles/1.25 km

This trail was once characterized by its thick stand of massive valley oaks. Drought, sinking groundwater, and rising average temperatures have all impacted the vitality of this once-lush destination (formerly named the Swamp Trail, populated with western pond turtles). More than a dry half century after the Terminus Dam restricted essential flooding for the valley oaks' survival, this trail has been altered for centuries to come but still serves as a useful outdoor lab detailing the vagaries and impacts of climate variability. While there, observe the raptors and other bird species that use the massive tree snags for breeding and a suitable place to roost while searching for their next meal below! You'll observe California wild grapes, blackberries, and mostly youthful valley oaks. During wet years, you may encounter brief periods of induced flooding thanks to SRT's collaboration with the Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District. That agency's resources have allowed periodic groundwater recharge, but only during the wettest years. During dry years when the water table dips due to area irrigation and residential usage, the vestigial turtle pond vanishes.

.75 miles/1.2 km

The 22-acre Timothy Blaine Tashjian Cottonwood Fitness Trail is a loop that sits on land reclaimed from a former plum orchard and is the latest property addition to Kaweah Oaks, which brings the preserve to 344 acres. The parcel was purchased in 2013 from a local longtime farming family thanks to the generosity of the community for the Campaign for Kaweah Oaks, a capital drive that raised $568,000 for the land, new restrooms, and preserve signage. This fitness trail will someday feature fitness equipment and other features. In 2015, it was dedicated by his daughter Hayley in honor of her father, the late Exeter real estate and citrus businessman Tim Tashjian.

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