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Stories from the valley

A Drive Through the Hills

Contributed by Steve Beckley

My wife and I decided to go check out the wildflowers in Bear Valley, which is located west of Williams on Bear Valley Road.  This is an annual trip for us and many others in the area.

BV Wildflowers 2

We started in Woodland and followed Highway 16 up through the Capay Valley.  It was evident by looking at all the shades of green in the hills that the area had benefited greatly from the March rains.  Then up through the Cache Creek Canyon to Highway 20.   It was good to see Cache Creek and Bear Creek running strong.

Once we got to Highway 20 we headed north on Bear Valley Road and were treated to a great display of wildflowers.  Again we were impressed with lush grass in the hills.  Once we entered Bear Valley, it was obvious the area had enjoyed the March rainfall as the flowers and pastures were flourishing. 

BV Wildflowers 3

We stopped at the Keegan Ranch in Bear Valley and visited with cattleman Jim Keegan.  Jim’s ancestors established the ranch in 1880 upon emigrating from Ireland.  Jim, on his business card, bills himself as “A cattleman who cares about the Environment.” Looking around his ranch and others in the area, there’s no doubt that stewardship practices have been implemented that benefit both the environment and livestock.  Another great thing the Keegan Ranch does is that they have made access available to the public through a swinging gate just south of the ranch headquarters to a pasture full of wildflowers.  This is the one place in the valley that you can stroll among the flowers

Following our visit with Jim we went into Stonyford and then followed the road to Elk Creek and then dropped into the Sacramento Valley at Willows.


It was good to see how the hills just a few miles from the valley had benefited from the rains and looking the best they had in years.  The livestock was enjoying good pasture and many of stock ponds were full.  As we approached Elk Creek we spotted several Osprey nests and say them flying around.  They were enjoying the fish in Stony Creek and Stony Gorge reservoir.