The King-Swett Ranches are a hidden treasure yet to be discovered by most Bay Area residents. This recently protected 3,956-acre expanse of land straddles the southwestern corner of Solano County. Views from atop King Ranch sweep across the Suisun Marsh all the way to the Sierras, with Mount Diablo rising to the south. On the western edge of Vallejo-Swett Ranch, views include the Golden Gate Bridge and Mount Tamalpais, the San Francisco and San Pablo Bays, and the Napa River and marshes.
The steep hilly grasslands, oak woodlands and riparian corridors provide habitat for a wide variety of species, including many that are rare and endangered. Johnny jump-ups provide habitat for rare butterflies. Several ponds provide prime habitat for the endangered California red-legged frog. Slivers of serpentine soils support native grasses such as purple needlegrass, blue wild rye and numerous wildflowers. The hills are a raptor’s paradise where golden eagles, Northern harriers, burrowing owls, and Swainson’s, Cooper’s and red-tailed hawks scan the open grasslands for food. Birders will delight in spotting Northern orioles, towhees, Western bluebirds, Swainson’s thrushes, Western kingbirds, black phoebes, tree swallows, and western meadowlarks. Mammals include black-tailed deer, coyotes and ground squirrels.
A draft public access plan for the properties has been completed. The plan visualizes 30 miles of hiking, mountain biking and equestrian trails that meander across high, grassy hilltops with views of the hills and steep valleys beyond. With an abundance of sensitive and endangered species, these important lands constitute a nature preserve more than they represent a typical regional park.
PG&E purchased the ranches in 1980 as a potential windmill site, and continues to be involved with restoration activities. When Solano Land Trust purchased the Vallejo Swett Ranch in 2005, it completed a three-parcel purchase—with Eastern Swett and King Ranches—from PG&E that began in 2001. This acquisition by Solano Land Trust was the realization of a plan begun in 1992 by a coalition formed to preserve 10,000 acres of land as a buffer zone between the cities of Benicia, Fairfield and Vallejo. The purchase of the properties was made possible with generous grants from the Coastal Conservancy, the Wildlife Conservation Board, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the three cities, and the County of Solano. SLT is currently working on a resource management plan that will protect the resources, maintain cattle grazing and allow limited, low-impact recreation.
The properties—also referred to as Sky Valley-Cordelia Hills Open Space—are located between Interstates 680 and 80 near Fairfield (to the northeast), Benicia (to the south) and Vallejo (to the west).
Visiting the King-Swett Ranches
The King-Swett Ranches are currently open to the public for staff- or docent-led activities only, please see our Events Calendar for scheduled activities.
Please: No dogs allowed.
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