FAIRFIELD — Donald Lowrey took advantage of a sunny Sunday to go hiking at the Lynch Canyon open space preserve, the first winter’s weekend the park has ever been open.
The Solano Land Trust and Solano County teamed up in 2006 to open Lynch Canyon on the weekends. But people could go there only during the spring and summer, unless they attended a docent-led hike.
In June, Solano County decided the 1,039 acres in the hills between Fairfield and Vallejo should be open on Saturdays and Sundays year-round. Five vehicles were parked in the parking lot at 1 p.m. Sunday, the second day of winter.
“This is the best time, in some ways,” Lowrey said. “It’s the best time of the year for watching eagles and hawks.”
Lowrey lives in Oakland. He read about a docent-guided raptor hike in Lynch Canyon in a Bay Area newspaper. He’d never been to Lynch Canyon, but turned out for the guided hike a few weeks ago.
The group saw five different types of hawks, Lowrey said. It saw two golden eagles on power transmission towers.
With Lynch Canyon now open for the winter, Lowrey didn’t have to wait for another docent-led hike to return. He came with binoculars on Sunday to see more raptors.
Mohammad Naqi lives in Fairfield, about a mile from Lynch Canyon. He drives by the canyon on Interstate 80 regularly as he travels to the Vallejo pizza parlor that he owns.
He’d seen the signs for Lynch Canyon open space, but he’d never stopped or really knew what was there.
That changed on Sunday when he drove by with his family after going to a mosque in Vallejo.
“I told my kids about my curiosity of the Lynch Canyon signs,” Naqi said.
The family decided the time had come to stop by Lynch Canyon. The Naqis hiked down the gravel Lynch Canyon Road paralleling Lynch Creek. Since one of the children is only 3 years old, this day’s hike wouldn’t test the limits of the 10 miles of available hiking trails.
“This is the neighborhood, you know — our neighborhood,” Naqi said.
It’s a part of the neighborhood they’ve now spent time in.
Last June, Solano County Land Trust Executive Director Nicole Byrd said the new, year-round schedule gives people a chance to see a different aspect of Lynch Canyon.
“In the winter, it’s green, it’s not so hot, the creeks are running,” Byrd said. “Some of the most beautiful days of the year are in the winter.”
The hitch is that Lynch Canyon hardly looks like a winter wonderland, even by Northern California’s mild standards. The Bay Area is amid what looks likely to be the driest calendar year ever recorded, with records in San Francisco dating back to 1849.
Hills in Lynch Canyon still have brown brush, with only a hint of green. The trails are dry and dusty. The temperature at 1 p.m. Sunday neared 60 degrees.
People will have to wait at least a little longer to get a taste of Lynch Canyon in its full winter glory. The National Weather Service on Sunday forecast no major storms hitting the area in coming days and possibly through the end of the year.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.