Rabbit Hill and Chaparral Preserve, a total of 9.5 acres, is located in Middletown, CA at 21281 Steward Street. This property is open to the public and leashed dogs are welcome. There is a picnic table on site, but no bathroom facilities.
For a map of Rabbit Hill, please click here.
Owned and stewarded by the Lake County Land Trust since 1999, this has been the site of many clean-up efforts and improvements. The most recent development at Rabbit Hill was the Valley Fire which raged over the hill and decimated all of its plant life and animal habitats. However, just months after the fire, plants and animals could be seen reclaiming and populating the area, and three new McNabb Cypress trees- endemic to Serpentine outcroppings such as Rabbit Hill- were planted there during the Tri Uplifting Mindfulness Triathlon. These tiny cypress were seedlings that resprouted after the Jerusalem Fire in the Morgan Valley Territory, another destructive wildfire that hit Lake County in 2015.
History of Rabbit Hill
Rabbit Hill was first turned into a nature sanctuary by Juanita "Skee" Hamann and Hugo "Huck" Hamann in the 1950's when they retired to Middletown from Los Altos. In November of 1966 the Hamann's were devastated when their daughter, Joan Hamann Dole, was murdered at her home in nearby Anderson Springs and they decided the nature sanctuary should be a tribute to her memory.
In 1968 the property was deeded to the Madrone Audubon Society although the Hamanns continued to live on the property caring for the birds using the feeders and birdbaths they had developed on the property and growing vegetables in fifty-five gallon drum halves. The Hamann's also used stones on the property to construct restrooms and a shelter for their trailer. In the summer they slept outside on a screened platform.
Huck Hamann died in 1975 and Skee continued to live and care for the property until 1980 when she moved to a Mrs. Spooner's house on Hwy. 175. Reports state that by 1983, when Skee Hamann died, much of the work they had put into the property had fallen into disrepair and it wasn't until the early 1990's that work began to find a local steward for the land. Madrone Audubon deeded the property to the Lake County Land Trust in April of 1999.