McKenzie Table Mountain Preserve consists of grassland, blue oak
woodland, and basalt table mountain on the north side of Aubery Road
below Prather. It covers 2960 acres of land ranging in elevation from
about 800 to 1800 feet. Vernal pools at the top of the basalt formation
provide habitat for rare plants and fairy shrimp. The preserve is
managed by the Sierra Foothill Conservancy (www.sierrafoothill.org).
The main body of the McKenzie Preserve consists of grassland and oak woodland sloping upward toward the basalt lava table lands which give the preserve its name. The preserve includes a significant portion of one of the flat-topped tables that are visible from the road. In the spring, rain water collects in the table’s low spots, forming vernal pools. Since the basalt is impermeable, these pools hold water for several weeks or months until it eventually evaporates. On the far side of the table formations, out of sight of Auberry Road, the land slopes steeply down to the San Joaquin River. These north-facing slopes sustain an excellent mix of pine forest and chaparral.
Most hikes on the preserve include a climb to the top of the table formation where visitors can enjoy spectacular views of the San Joaquin River drainage and the Sierra Nevada mountains. In the spring there are outstanding displays of wild flowers on the slopes and table tops. Trails at the low end of the preserve, including a 4 mile self-guided Discovery Trail along the ranch road and part of the old SJ&E railroad right of way, are suitable for easy walking. The climb to the top of the table is strenuous; the table top itself is level but walking is difficult because of the rocky surface. Total distance along the trail from the parking area to the top of the table is about six miles, round trip.
borrowed and edited from:
My Visit to the Preserve
March 2009 Open House - Page 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5
April 2009 San Joaquin River Trail Hike
Lat N 36° 59.780' Lon W 119° 35.614' (Entrance to the Preserve)
Google Maps - McKenzie Table Mountain Preserve