Sweeping Vistas and Remote Wilderness
In the wilds of northern Sonoma County, California, and the shadow of Mount Saint Helena lies thousands of acres of protected lands. The gateway to this natural landscape is Audubon Canyon Ranch’s newest sanctuary, the Modini Mayacamas Preserves. The preserves total 3,000 acres and sit on the slopes of the Mayacamas Mountains above Highway 128 in the Alexander Valley.
The preserves feature a rich blend of biologically diverse habitats, including oak woodlands, pine forests, grasslands, chaparral, riparian forests, natural springs, wild streams and serpentine outcrops that support several rare plants.
The area is home to deer, black bears, bobcats, mountain lions, coyotes, grey foxes, nesting golden eagles, northwestern pond turtles, and foothill yellow-legged frogs, as well as many birds. Rare plants on the property include Greene’s narrow-leaved daisy, St. Helena fawn lily, and green jewel-flower. The peaks, ridges, ravines and valleys here are part of three healthy watersheds, which all drain to the Russian River.
The Modini Mayacamas Preserves are also core to 12,000 acres of contiguous habitat in the Mayacamas Mountains that are protected under conservation easements with the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District. ACR collaborates with this and other local organizations and agencies in management, research and educational use of the preserves.
The land now known as ACR's Modini Mayacamas Preserves is a merger of two properties: the Modini Ingalls Ecological Preserve and the Mayacamas Mountains Sanctuary. The former was transferred to ACR in a bequest by ranchers Jim and Shirley Modini, avid land conservationists and wildlife enthusiasts. The Modini-Ingalls family owned the property—primarily used for cattle grazing—since 1867. The Mayacamas Mountains Sanctuary was formerly owned by the National Audubon Society.
A favorite spot for birding, the Preserves are traversed by Pine Flat Road, a public county road that meanders through the property. Visitors can enjoy the views and birdwatch from roadside pullouts anytime without appointment. Please drive cautiously, as this is a one-lane winding road with limited sight lines.
The Preserves also host public guided hikes, which are posted on our calendar. To obtain certification for limited off-road hiking, attend an orientation session, which are also posted on the calendar.
- David Self