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Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge

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Lago Vista

The Iron Horse Regional Trail runs along an abandoned rail line from Concord in Contra Costa County to Pleasanton in Alameda County. Because of its railroad pedigree, the trail is typically flat and often straight as an arrow. What it lacks in variety it makes up for with miles of trail through some of the fastest growing areas in California.

The rail line was established in 1891 and abandoned in 1977. Thirty years of planning and hard work has yielded a total of 32 miles of trail. Future plans call for expanding the route up to 55 miles.

Besides the telltale signs of the trail's railroading past due to its path there are other remnants of the railroad to be found. The old Danville station has been restored and currently houses the Museum of the San Ramon Valley. A couple of railroad cars provide some extra space. The building was moved about 600 feet from its original 1891 location to its present spot.

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Recommended Item
Recommended Item Audubon Guide to the National Wildlife Refuges: Southwest: Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas (Audubon Guides to the National Wildlife Refuges)
Daniel Gibson
List Price: $19.95 Your price: $12.84 Buy Now
The southwestern United States--in this case, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas--harbors several dozen federally administered wildlife refuges, 31 of them open to the public and profiled in this guidebook. Some of the refuges, such as New Mexico's heavily visited Bosque del Apache, are stopovers for great numbers of birds (in this instance, more than 17,000 sandhill cranes alone) and residences for diverse plants and animals. Others, such as Texas's 3,500-acre Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge, are devoted (but, of course, not limited) to a single endangered species. Natural-history writer Daniel Gibson gives a thorough description of the region's wildlife refuges and of the wildlife they shelter, providing a guide that nature-minded visitors will want to have on hand when visiting the desert country. --Gregory McNamee