The Ruth McKenzie Table Mountain Preserve (2960 acres) is located between Friant and Prather, on the north side of Auberry Road.
The McKenzie Preserve was acquired in trust from The Nature Conservancy in 1998. The property had previously been placed in a trust by its owner, Ruth Bea McKenzie, who wanted it to remain in ranching and open space after her death.
The McKenzie Preserve is primarily grassland and oak woodland that slopes upward toward the basalt lava table lands that 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 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. The pools provide habitat for rare plants and crustaceans that “come to life” in the presence of the water. When the pools dry up in late spring, these crustaceans become seeds or cysts in order to survive the rest of the year. 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. The preserve also includes a 47-acre parcel along the creek on the south side.
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 spring there are outstanding displays of wildflowers on the slopes and table tops. Trails are at the low end of the preserve. A four mile self-guided Discovery Trail along the ranch road and part of the old SJ&E railroad right of way is 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.
Sierra Foothill Conservancy is a land trust rooted in the local community. With your volunteer time and donations, we preserve special places for future generations.
Our protection of foothill land…
Protects wildlife & preserves native flora
Provides educational and recreational opportunities for the community
Promotes scientific study of foothill ecosystems
Maintains open space and beautiful vistas
The Sierra Foothill Conservancy is a non-profit public benefit corporation under the Internal Revenue Service Code Section 501(c)(3) and California Revenue and Taxation Code Section 23701d. Contributions are deductible for federal income tax purposes.
501(c)(3) Nonprofit Land Trust established in 1996. Accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, August 2014
McKenzie Table Mountain Preserve (2,960 acres), Mary Elizabeth Miller Preserve at Black Mountain (1,410 acres), Tivy Mountain Preserve (826 acres), Ewell Fine Gold Creek Preserve (719 acres), Martin Preserve (280 acres), Haslett Basin Preserve (125 acres), Bean Creek Preserve (81 acres), Feliciana Mountain (40 acres)
Total Preserve Acreage: 6,441
Transfer to Public Agency: 2,554 acres
Conservation Easements: 19,363 acres
Total Acres Protected:
Major Species/Habitat Protection:
Carpenteria; Keck’s checkerbloom; Orange lupine; golden eagle; prairie falcon; great gray owl; bobcat; mountain lion; mastiff bat; gray fox; Valley Elderberry Longhorn Beetle; California tiger salamander; limestone salamander; blue oak woodland; forests; rangeland; meadows; vernal pools; riparian habitat; native bunch grass habitat.
Over 1,000 members
Over 2,500 visitors in the past year for classes, hikes, research & school field trips.
Western Sierra Nevada from the crest to the grasslands in Fresno, Madera, eastern Merced, and Mariposa Counties.
Annual Operating Budget:
Sierra Lands Beef
California Cattleman’s Association; California Council of Land Trusts; Land Trust Alliance; Mariposa County Chamber of Commerce; San Joaquin River Partnership; Sierra Business Council; Sierra Cascade Land Trust Council.
Governed by a 12 member Board of Directors
Lynn Gorman, President; Bridget Fithian, Executive Director
There’s nothing that compares with a deep connection to a specific place with stories that span multiple generations. For many, the story of our family is spread across states or even continents. Regardless of our origin, we likely remember finding refuge and wonder in an open field or meadow, a stream or river, a tree or forest. These early memories laid a foundation for our lifelong appreciation of the outdoors.
Sierra Foothill Conservancy protects places that have stories and places that continue to make memories for generations to come. Whether you are a long-time member who anticipates the Carpenteria in bloom, a partnering landowner who has decided to conserve your property in perpetuity, or a second-grader who experienced the foothills for the first time on the McKenzie Preserve, SFC helps to ensure that there will always be places for refuge and wonder.
At this moment in its history, the Sierra Foothill Conservancy is the proud owner of eight nature preserves, totaling 6,481 acres. Although they are all located in the Sierra Nevada foothills, they are remarkably diverse in their history, their topography, and their plant and animal life. In fact, they stand as splendid examples of the rich diversity of different habitat types in this region. SFC offers guided hikes on several of our preserves.
SFC acquires these preserves in many different ways. Some are set aside for specific endangered species, while some are donated to us by landowners who want to see the land cared for and protected forever. For opportunities to access these properties, check out our Event Calendar for scheduled hikes, classes and open preserve days.