Clovis Trail Updates
9/1/15: Today I saw a member of the Notorious Feral Cat Feeding
Crew in action. A woman was putting water and food into the dishes
on both sides of the trail, and had a small hand cart with her to
transport the illegal goods.
saw two "regulars." First was a woman who uses a walker,
one with wheels. I admire the determination it takes to keep walking
the trail under those circumstances. I've seen her twice. The other
was a young man who rides a bike; I've seen him three times, always
on the trail between Sierra and Third. He stands out because he has
a unique hairdo, a thick black mop that I mistook at first glance
for a cap. Men my age would kill to have that hair.
the trail reaches Sierra, walkers have to cross both Clovis and
Sierra. Today I went across Sierra, but went into the small park on
the southwest corner to check out a
plaque, which commemorates the
founding of Clovis. Then I walked down the sidewalk along Clovis
Avenue to Third and over to the trail, where I took some pictures of
an old man on the bench there.
remembered that this hike is long enough that it's good to bring a
little something to eat at this break spot. Last time it was a Cliff
Bar, which was more than I needed; today it was half an apple.
Update 9/5/15: After walking by the scrap
yard, or "junk
zone" a number of times, I wanted to see what the front of it
looked like, so I decided I would walk east on 3rd street, then go
up the first street I came to toward Sierra, which should take me to
the scrap yard entrance. Alas, "you can't get there from
here" - the first north-south street was a dead end, so I went
farther east, then north again. This street also ended before
reaching Sierra, so I went east some more, finally reaching a street
that went through to Sierra. This added a half mile to my total
walking, not a bad thing, but as far as I could tell, the only
access to the front of the scrap yard is through a locked gate. It
could be open on weekdays, but it's a driveway, not really a street,
so I would be hesitant to enter. You never know when you will
encounter a junk yard dog.
A landscape maintenance
crew was working on the trail near John Wright Station, with
vehicles parked on or right next to the trail, and chain saws, weed
eaters, and hedge clippers going. They were raising a dust cloud about 100
feet long, not too thick, but a little annoying. I understand the
need to trim the trees and keep down the weeds, so no complaints.
Update 9/8/15: Other than a photo
of the sign, I haven't said anything about Spud's Spur in my
Clovis Trail reports. At various places along the trail there are
paved side paths that usually go a short way to a business or
residential area. None of these are honored with a sign except
Spud's Spur, which runs west from the Old Town Trail just north of
I walked this short path
once before, but didn't remember any details, so I decided to repeat
it today, taking my camera along. The reason for my forgetfulness,
and possibly the lack of any recognition of "Spud" on the
Internet, was immediately obvious. The trail is probably about
two tenths of a mile, and runs between the elevated freeway and a
huge vacant field where construction is underway. Most of the way
the view opposite the freeway is blocked by a high fence.
There's one opening where
you can see heavy equipment, and it looks as if a trench was dug
along the trail and in through this place. The Spur ends at a gate,
although there is a little-used paved road beyond that probably goes
out to Villa Avenue. At this point there were workmen in orange
vests, trucks and equipment, and other signs of impending
development. I suppose Spud would be proud.
I was out very early,
about 7:45, and although the sun was well above the horizon, I could
look directly at it, thanks to smoke from the Rough
Fire. This blaze started from lightning July 30 and has grown to
nearly 100,000 acres in the Sierra and Sequoia National Forests and
Kings Canyon National Park, mainly in the drainage of the Kings
River. It has caused the closure of major areas of the park and
forests, particularly around Hume
Lake and the Converse
It also caused me to
change my hiking destination from the Courtright Reservoir area to Taft
Pont on August 29, and will send the Ramblers to a backup
location for our September 17 hike, instead of the Boole
Tree Trail, which is pretty much surrounded by the burned area.
On my morning walks I can
see a huge bank of smoke along the entire Sierra, and the smell of
it has invaded Clovis today and Sunday. It makes for a pretty cool
photo of the big red sun, however.
Heading southeast on the
main trail, I turned back at Sierra Avenue instead of continuing on
to Third. With the Spud's Spur side trip, my total walking distance
was about a quarter mile less than my normal route.
Update 9/14/15: Having walked the Old Town Trail from John
Wright Station to Tom Stearns Station quite a few times in recent
weeks, I decided to go north from JWS today. I've gone this way in
the past, but only a couple of times in the last year or so. It goes through a
mostly industrial area for a half mile or so, then into residential
territory. The trail is never very close to the houses, but does
pass immediately by two parks.
On the 1.3 mile stretch
that I walked, it goes through tunnels under two major streets, and
crosses two other streets at grade
level. Although traffic is not
required to stop, most drivers are alert to pedestrian traffic in
these locations and will yield the right of way.
there was no clear-cut "ending" point, I checked my
distance measurement app several times to make sure that I got in an
amount of walking similar to the southern route. I found a good
stopping point just past the tunnel under Nees Avenue, giving me
just over 2.6 miles total.
Update 9/19/15: Approaching
the Feral Cat Zone this morning, I saw a woman resting on the bench.
Beside her was a cart with water and cat food, so I asked if she was
part of the Notorious Feral Cat Feeding Crew. Of course, she wisely
denied this, but did provide some information that helped satisfy my
curiosity. The cat-feeders are indeed an organized group. They take
the cats to be spayed, a service provided free by Miss
Winkles Pet Adoption Center.
They have a
co-conspirator in the form of a state highway agency which shall
remain nameless. The agency has given them keys to the fenced
right-of-way beside the freeway (which is elevated at this
location), so they can get in to "take care of business."
At this point I realized
that all the cat dishes and most of the time the cats are on the
highway property, so no cats are being fed on the Clovis trails. The
lady also said she asked the cats if they were feral cats, and took
the lack of response as a negative.
(Note to Clovis City
authorities: None of the above is true; I just made it up as an
exercise in creative writing. There are no feral cats and no one is
feeding them if there are.)
south of Sierra there was a photo session going on. The photographer
had a large reflective panel, and a camera on a tripod. His subject
was a young woman wearing black stockings above the knee, shorts,
and a cape - not particularly revealing, but definitely sexy.
Something was going on in
downtown Clovis, with many more cars than usual parked where the
trail reaches 3rd Street, and lots of people on the sidewalks. There
were also more folks than usual on the trail. There were hot air
balloons in the sky, and it was a delightful morning, clear and
Update 9/23/15: Today for the first time in quite a while I
walked the section of the Dry Creek Trail that goes north from Dry
Creek Park at Clovis and Alluvial. Since it's warmed up again
lately, I got up early,
and was on the trail about 6:45 a.m. It was more than cool enough; I
could have used a long-sleeve t-shirt for the first third of my
walk, but after that I got warmed up just right.
could almost be classified as a canal bank walk, since the trail
parallels the Dry Creek Canal as far as I went. However, it's a
trail, not the bank of the canal, which is about 15 feet from the
walkway and hidden by trees and brush much of the way. There are all
kinds of weeds and plants growing between the trail and the creek,
trail also runs beside
Clovis Avenue much of the way, but far enough away from it that
the traffic is not annoying, especially early in the morning. On my
return walk, the number of cars had increased noticeably.
trail passes through a varied landscape on both sides, particularly
the east. After a section of open fields, there are a couple of
large, up-scale newer
homes, some corrals, and a place that appears to be one large
property, including a huge metal building, a fair sized house, and an
area where there are a half-dozen old
cars. All of this is shaded and mostly hidden in a grove of
dozens of eucalyptus trees.
west side is all residential, but the houses are across the street
and behind tall fences along Clovis Avenue for the first part. The
trail then turns northeast, with the eucalyptus area on the one side
and an upscale gated housing development on the other. The trail
continues well beyond where I turned back, at the corner of Riordan
and North Russell. This gave me a round trip walk of 2.85 miles.
Update 9/30/15: There was a nice
sunrise from the northern route of the Old Town Trail, seen
across an industrial business parking lot. I also came across what
seemed to be a salute to a sports team, with names and good wishes chalked
on the trail.
Update 11/9/15: My friend Carolyn and I were planning to hike
on the San Joaquin River Trail from Finegold Picnic area on
Millerton Lake today, but the weather forecast called for possible
thunderstorms in the morning and afternoon. I asked her if she'd
like to try a short walk on the Clovis trails instead, so we met up
at John Wright Station, and walked the trail that goes east to
Clovis and Alluvial along Big Dry Creek Canal.
The weather was fine
during our walk, quite cool but with clouds and sun. Carolyn had not
been on any of the Clovis trails, and enjoyed this short
introduction to the system. The canal is dry along that stretch
right now, the sycamores that line the trail are losing their
leaves, and we saw a few ducks on the flood basin, which has a small
amount of water in one section.
There was a short rain
shower during the night, and another even shorter one later that
afternoon, but we didn't get any significant rain.
Update 11/26/15: I walked on the Old Town Trail from John
Wright Station to 3rd street downtown. The main thing that stands
out along this route is colorful leaves on
the trees and on
the ground, something we're noticing all around town. The lone catalpa
tree, near were Freeway 168 crosses over the trail, has lost all
its huge leaves, but is still decorated with long bean-like seed
pods. Along the way I had some good views of the Sierra
Nevada, covered with welcome snow.
Update 11/29/15: I
got on the Old Town Trail north from John Wright Station around 8
a.m. It's been pretty cold at night - down around 35 on my
thermometer, but there's frost on the roofs, so it's colder away
from the house. Today seemed like the coldest day so far, and there
was a lot of frost along the trail, on the dry
grass and on some
I wear gloves pretty much
every day, and wore a stocking cap over my billed hat, but still
went with only two shirt layers, and was reasonably comfortable most
of the time. The biggest problem lately is that the metal benches
are wet, so there's no place to sit while I take my break.
A short distance from the
trailhead, there is a large industrial
plant of some sort on the east side. In the summer the large
dirt parking lot was filled with cars, but there were fewer in
recent weeks, so I suspect it may be ag-related (it turned out to be
the Wawona Frozen Foods processing
plant). The back lot has
lots of pallets
and barrels stacked up. Returning to the trailhead, I took a side trip
through the parking lot, hoping to get some hint of what it's for,
with no luck. I did enjoy cutting through the edge of a peach
orchard, where the fallen leaves formed a
carpet on the ground.
Update 12/15/15: There are plenty of places to get on the
Clovis trails, but only a few official trailheads. The best one is
certainly the newly constructed facility at Shepard and Sunnyside
Avenues. There are plenty of parking spaces, bike racks, restrooms,
informational signs, and a
windmill. OK, the latter is purely
decorative and the location would be fine without it, but it adds
interest and provides a nice landmark.
It's also the place where
Canal crosses Big Dry Creek, and there are gates and valves that
allow water to be sent down either one. Today there was a lot of
water in the Enterprise, with a share of it going down Dry Creek. On
the upstream side of the canal, before it enters the gates, there is
a wide conveyor
belt that pulls leaves and trash from the water and dumps them
in a pile
on a concrete and metal platform for later removal, no doubt to
prevent clogging up the pumping equipment.
The last time I walked
from this location was with daughter Teri and great grandson Colton
on April 14 of this year. At that time we were hoping to spot
some mares and colts I had seen on an earlier walk, but they were
gone. This time there were two
horses, but no small ones.
Because the day had
started with frost on the roofs and the
temperature in the mid 30s, I decided to do my morning
walk in the afternoon, and drove to the trailhead. When I got out of the car
I was in the sun, and I wore a long sleeve t-shirt over a thermal
top. I decided I didn't need my flannel shirt, which I left in the
car. In a short time, the sun went behind a cloud and the trail went
into a heavily shaded area, and I wished I had the shirt.
However, I eventually
came out into the sun again, and was comfortable for the last three
quarters of my walk, with the wind at my back through the shady
This part of the trail
goes past some large homes, including a gated community, with the
Dry Creek Canal on the other side. There is a lot of green grass and
other plants in the "wild" areas by the creek, lots of
dead, dry leaves on the ground, and other interesting
stuff. You can see Christmas
decorations in front of some of the houses.
I walked till the trail
came out by a busy street, Clovis Avenue, took some photos of scenes
across the canal, and headed back, covering a total of just under a
mile and a half.
By the time I got back to
the car I was ready for lunch, and went to In-N-Out for a
cheeseburger with fries.
Update 12/24/15: This morning my daughter Teri came over and
we walked the Old
Town Trail south from John Wright Station to Tom Stearns Station. She had walked with me on another Clovis trail,
but had not been on this one. It goes from near Herndon and Villa to
Third Street in downtown Clovis.
We had freezing
temperatures overnight, but by the time we walked, the frost was
gone. It was probably about 40 degrees, still plenty cold. To add to
the "fun," we had a strong wind, but it was mostly at our
back on the return walk.
She enjoyed the walk,
which goes through a lot of different areas, and we saw one cat in
the Feral Cat Zone.
As we started through the
tunnel under Herndon on our return trip, we saw two workmen looking
down into a hole beside the trail. I asked "What's down
there," and one of them replied, "A pump." As we got
closer, we saw that there was also a man in the hole, working in
what Teri and I both agreed was very tight quarters.
Update 12/25/15: This was another frosty morning, but there
was no wind. I got an earlier start than yesterday, and it was 35
degrees while I was driving to the parking lot. I again went to John
Wright Station, but walked east on the Dry Creek Trail, to Clovis
and Alluvial. Here I crossed both streets and walked the entire circumference
of the park there. This gave me a total walk of 2.14 miles.
There were quite a few
geese sitting on the bank on the west side of the flood basin beside
the trail. Then I noticed even more geese in the plowed field to the
south side of Dry Creek. Apparently there are Pond Geese and Field
We had had a cold winter
storm in the afternoon and evening the day before, and there were
fantastic views of the snow-covered Sierra. At the intersection I
walked down the sidewalk a short distance to the east to get a
better view and could see that the snow level was down quite low. I
already knew that there had been a good amount at my daughter
Jennifer's at the 3,000 foot level above Oakhurst.
It being Christmas, there
were not many people out, though I saw at least a half dozen
enjoying the cold, crisp, sunny day.
Update 12/27/15: I have two outside thermometers. The one in
the front entry way seems to read high, influenced by its closeness
to the house. It will show 35 degrees when there is frost on the
roof tops. The one by my back patio is in an open but closely fenced
area, probably a little cooler than the overall temperature.
This morning it
registered a low of 27 well before sunrise and there was a thin
sheet of ice on a bucket of water I have there to collect recycled
water in the summer. I went walking on the Old Town Trail north from
John Wright station, and there was thin ice on some large and small
puddles and pools that have collected from the recent rains.
However, one 14-inch puddle was frozen
solid. I suspect it may be shaded all day and has not completely
melted, since we've had freezing temperatures for several days, and
highs in the mid-40s.
The walk in general was
very comfortable, wearing three layers including a thermal top; in
fact, I was too warm some of the time in the sun.
Update 12/30/15: I made arrangements to meet my grandson's
family where the Old Town Trail crosses Clovis and Sierra Avenues.
Present were Johnny, his wife Brittany, and their sons, 14-month old
Jack and three year old Colton.
Colton brought his new 2-wheel bike (4 wheels for now), but we left it in the car at first and walked down
the trail where it goes by the "junk yard." There are several
cranes here, lots of huge sections of pipe, and various other
unidentifiable items, all of which I thought would interest
After we crossed the streets and got on the trail Johnny told Colton to follow the center line of the trail, and this made more of an impression than the cranes and other stuff. While the rest of us walked onto the dirt road by the junk, Colton continued down the trail, sometimes heading off into the trees on the far side.
Jack was set free from his stroller, and had a good time just wandering
around. Colton finally took notice of the cranes and stuff as we started back, but didn't seem to be particularly interested.
We got back to the car and got his bike out, and he started up the trail. It didn't take long before he was 100 feet ahead of us, and Johnny later said he wasn't sure the bike was a good idea..."I feel like he's faster than I am now." Despite his fast riding, he always turned around and came back to let us catch up. Jack rode
in the stroller most of the time, but when we stopped and he got out, his favorite thing was to get a handful of dry leaves from one side of the trail, walk over, and throw them down on the other side. We calculated it would take a few years for him to finish moving all the leaves.
Jack walked a little, but rode most of the way. Colton rode his bike except for one brief exception I'll get to later. We went to John Wright Station,
where I usually park, and rested on the benches there. Of course, the boys did not rest; Colton rode his bike around a cement circle that ran around the rest area, as well as back and forth on the trail a
Jack decided to restore the leaves to their rightful place, dumping
dried oak leaves onto small evergreen bushes.
When we got to the bridge over the Dry Creek Canal, Colton did not want to ride across it, so he walked while Brittany pushed the bike. Later while we were resting he decided to try the bridge, and rode across it as slowly as possible. He decided it was safe and rode back at
Both boys enjoyed the tunnel under Herndon Avenue, Jack running down the road with mom in close pursuit, and Colton free-wheeling down with Dad beside him. He rode up the other side with no help.
The retaining wall flanking the tunnel entrances looked like a
perfect climbing spot to Johnny, so up
We walked a little over two miles, although Colton got in an extra quarter mile with his circle riding, and getting ahead then riding back. Jack was sound asleep when we arrived at the cars, so we got hamburgers to go and went to their house to eat.
Update 3/6/16: I've done a lot of Clovis trail walks since
the last update, but probably the only thing of note is that the
spring blossoms have been appearing. Along the Old Town Trail south
from John Wright Station are a number of flowering plum
put out a soft pink blossom. The flowers drop off very quickly, to
be replaced by dark red
leaves. On my latest walk the blossoms were
pretty much done, but most of the petals were on the ground,
creating a pink
On the Dry Creek Trail north of Dry Creek Park, the city has planted
a number of redbud
trees, which are one of the more striking shrubs
of the foothills. They do well in the valley, and they have been
showing pink for a week or so.
On March 5, Teri and I drove to John Wright, then walked the Dry Creek
Trail along the canal to the park, and north past the redbuds to the
first cross street. The redbuds were at their
peak, and should be
good for a week or so.
As soon as we started walking, it started misting, but it was not
enough to bother us. Later it became a light rain, which was
annoying some of the time, especially when the breeze blew it
against the side of my face. However, we made it back not very wet
and well exercised.
In the Botanical Garden next to the park there are massive plantings
of some kind of yellow and orange flowers, species unknown to me,
which create a dramatic splash of color not far from the park and
When I walked today, there was mud that had been washed onto the
trail in places. I had thought about hiking down Spud's Spur, but it
so I just kept going to the
park at Clovis and Sierra Avenues.
Update 3/19/16: Today for the first time I saw new leaves
on the catalpa (which I like to call the Bean Tree). It seems to be
about the last tree to leaf out. Of course, there are many other flowers
leaves to look at on the trail walks.
My walk on March 12 was
right after another good rain. I went north from John Wright, and
there was a flooded area, about 25 feet long and 10 feet wide, which
had attracted ducks. I also saw them in much smaller puddles, wading,
not swimming. In addition, the
geese are occupying the flood basins.
Another day on the same
trail I finally got the answer to a question that had intrigued me
since last summer. There is a large industrial-type building not far
from the trailhead, and during the summer the parking lot was
filled. Of course, I was glad to see that there was a place
providing a lot of jobs, but as it got later in the year, the number
of cars decreased by about 80%. Finally I was able to stop and talk
to a couple of workers who were taking a break at a picnic table
beside the building, and found out that it is Wawona
This company is owned by
Family, a long-time big player in agriculture and politics. Wawona
Farms includes many acres of fruit trees, and the Smittcamp's
donated land for Clovis' newest high school, Buchanan High.
Something completely new and different today: Walking on the Old
Town Trail north from downtown toward the John Wright trailhead, I
saw a man with a dog, illegally off the leash. That's not different,
it's rampant. What caught my attention was that the guy was carrying
a metal or plastic ring about 15 inches in diameter, and every time
he came to one of the many lamp posts along the trail, he tried to
toss the ring over the top of the post. His ring toss skills were no
better than his respect for law and order, as he missed every try.
Update 5/14/16: For the last two months or so there has been
construction activity where the trail passes under the State Highway
168 freeway. Workers were digging trenches, laying pipe, and
installing some kind of fenced in facility that I could not see
well. All of this took place in the highway right of way, a dirt
road that is gated and fenced off from the trail. Today I saw
several new signs on both sides of the trail stating that Clovis is
using recycled water for irrigation. No doubt the project was to
implement this change. This is also the Feral Cat Zone, and all this
activity has pretty much driven them away for the time being. The
feeding crew will no doubt return once things are quiet, and surely
the cats will too.
Update 6/6/16: There's always something new on these
walks, but most days it's not worth writing about. Then along comes a
pelican. Yes, a big, white pelican, where I've never seen one
before, lording it over the Canada geese in the flood basin next to
Cottonwood Park and the Dry Creek Trail. The geese, used to being
the Big Bird in these parts, did not appear to be afraid, but they
were keeping a watchful eye on the newcomer.
other hikers stopped and commented and we all agreed that this
was a rare event, having never seen a pelican in the Fresno area
A week or two later I walked by this area again, and there were five
or six of these birds. A few minutes later they were swimming across
the pond, gliding in perfect formation without any visible movement
of their bodies. (2021 Update: The pelicans have become
regular visitors, and have been seen in other pond basins around
Fresno and Clovis.)
Update 6/20/16: For the first time since the recycled water
construction project, there was a cat in the Feral Cat Zone today.
The food and water dishes have been back for a few weeks, and had
obviously been used, but this was the first day a cat showed
Update 6/29/16: The Eaton
Trail isn't really a Clovis trail, but it's an urban trail, it's
near Clovis, and it runs along the San Joaquin River, which belongs
to all of us. This is as good a place as any for this short report
on a short walk.
It's been very hot the
last week or so. Getting out of the house before 8 a.m. recently, it
was already 80 degrees, and the walk I did was very warm. I decided
I would get up REALLY early and drive out Willow to Friant Road
where there's an access point for this trail. I walked there for the
first time in November of 2015. I went there again in December
with fellow Rambler Carolyn Amicone and again in
February of this year with my daughter Teri. You can read some
background information on the trail at those links, so I won't
repeat it here.
I got up before 6 a.m.,
had a light breakfast, and was on the trail by 6:45. Even this
early, it was quite warm, especially with my cap on. When there was
shade I removed it, which gave some comfort. I walked all the way to
Center, following the dirt path that runs all the way around a
pond next to the complex. It was a good day for small wildlife - I
saw at least a dozen each of rabbits and ground squirrels, several
quail and lizards, other miscellaneous birds, and a feral cat.
The first rabbit I
spotted was heading for the bushes at the side of the trail when a
bike rider came toward him from the opposite direction. This sent
him in my direction just long enough for me to get my camera up and
take a quick shot. When I looked at the
photo at home, to my surprise there were TWO rabbits in the
were a few flowers
along the trail, most of which I could not identify. The most common
was a small
bush covered with white flowers. These started appearing along
the sides of recently repaired roads about 20 years ago, and now are
seen in a number of places along trails and roads. I'm 99% certain
they have been planted as erosion control. The flowers give way to a
beautiful russet seed head, and during my visit to this area, they
were in transition.
were few other walkers, maybe six joggers, and a lot of bike riders.
My total walk was 2.38 miles, which takes about an hour, including
time to stop and look at scenery and take pictures.
is a Farmer's Market every Wednesday at the Kaiser medical center,
on my route back home, and there is man there each week selling homemade apple butter. I
had hoped that the market would be open by the time I finished my
walk, but I needn't have worried; my vendor said he usually arrives
by 6:30. I traded in my empty jars (getting a 25 cent credit for
each one), and bought three more plus some bread and butter pickles.
light breakfast was just enough to sustain me through most of the
morning, which ended with a trip to In-N-Out for a cheeseburger,
fries and Coke at 11 a.m.
Update 6/30/16: Beside the Dry Creek Trail where it goes
through Cottonwood Park, there is a huge
stump. It's been there as long as I've walked this route, and
looks like it could be ten or twenty years old. However, the life
force is not to be denied, and this year the stump put out several
good size branches of new
The park maintenance
crew's ax is also not to be denied, and when I walked the trail
today with my next door neighbors, Bob and Alice, we saw that the
branches had been whacked off.
This was their first time
on this part of the trail, and they enjoyed it greatly. We had a
slight breeze and temperatures that were comfortable if not actually
Update 7/10/16: Today I had what I called a "Hot and
Cold hike." After a period of 105 plus temperatures, the
weather has cooled off a lot. Heading north on the Old Town Trail
from John Wright Station today, I had a constant head wind that was
cool enough that a long-sleeve shirt would have been comfortable.
When I reached my turnaround point and started back, the wind was
behind me, and I actually worked up a slight sweat. There was
probably at least a ten-degree difference in the way it felt walking
the two different directions.
A few days earlier, I had
my longest ever walk on the Clovis Trail system. I had to take my
car in for some minor work. They said it would take two hours, and
they would be happy to give me a ride home. However, the trail I
usually walk on runs behind the shop, so I thought if I felt up to
it, I would just take a long trail walk while waiting.
When I first got up I
could feel every muscle used in my 4.5 mile hike to Tokopah
Falls the previous day, but once I got moving around, I felt I
could walk the trail OK. After dropping off the car, I walked a
short distance to Herndon, then a few hundred feet to an access
trail that joins the main trail south of where it goes under Herndon
through a tunnel. I walked past my usual rest stop at 3rd Street,
continuing to 5th Street. When I got back to Herndon, it had been
less than 90 minutes, so I continued all the way to my usual
starting point, the John Wright Station. About half way back to
Herndon I got a call saying the car was ready. Ten minutes later I
picked it up, having made a very productive use of my wait time with
a walk of over three miles.
10/1/16: The July 10 walk above was the last one that was really
cool until today. After getting up early to beat the summer heat the
last few months, today I got on the trail about 8:15, wearing a long
sleeve shirt. I walked east from John Wright to Dry Creek Park and a
little beyond. Going north the wind was in my face and I was glad I
dressed properly. On the return walk, with the wind at my back and
walking in the sun, I rolled up the sleeves, but along the shaded
trail back to my starting point, I pulled them back down. We're
expecting a high of only 80, great news after some 100 degree
weather only a week ago.
10/22/16: I don't think I've ever mentioned anything about the
libraries along the Clovis trail system. These are not buildings,
but instead are small boxes, similar to a large mailbox, mounted on
a post. Users of the trail can take a book, keep or return it, and
add books as they see fit.
are always between ten and twenty books available, and I have taken
home four or five of them, returning some and passing others on to
people who are interested. There are two of these libraries, one by
the Dry Creek Trail where it enters Cottonwood Park from the west
(at Clovis and Alluvial). This one is sponsored by LittleFreeLibrary.org.
The web site explains how to build and host a library. The other one
is a short distance south of Nees on the Old Town Trail, and the
sign describes it as "E and J's Little Free Library. It doesn't
say so, but I assume it's part of the same organization.
of these appeared within the last two years. They were an unexpected
discovery, and they certainly add a unique touch to hiking in
12/14/16: I walked today on the Enterprise Trail, for the first
time in at least a year or two. From the Dry Creek Trailhead at Shepherd
and Sunnyside, the Dry Creek Trail to the south appears to be the
only available trail. But a little cross-country travel takes you to
the Enterprise Trail, less than a quarter mile away to the east. In
fact, it's a stretch to call it "cross country," since it
just involves crossing Sunnyside Avenue and walking on the bank of
the Enterprise Canal to where the official trail starts.
there the trail follows the canal for at least a couple of miles,
although I have never been to the end of it. I walk it so rarely I
don't have an "official" turnaround spot like I do with
most "in and out" trails, so today I turned back when I
felt I had walked "half of enough."
first thing I noticed while walking on the canal bank was that the
banks and the bottom of the canal had been graded. Then I realized
there was a new cement lining on the south side of the canal for a
considerable distance. This probably has something to do with the
fact that a section of this canal bank collapsed
in May of 2016, sending thousands of gallons of water into nearby
neighborhoods. Burrowing ground squirrels were blamed, and indeed, I
have seen large holes and dirt piles on canal and trail banks all
around Fresno and Clovis. The new concrete and the grading of the
opposite bank should keep the little creatures under control for a
the other hand, the new bank work ends after about a mile, so who
know what lies in store? The local irrigation district does inspect
the canal banks on a regular basis, but with over 400 miles of
canals, it's possible to miss things or not get to them in a timely
manner. I DID see a couple of ground squirrels busily working on the
could not say for sure, but it also appeared that the bank on the
north side, where I was walking, had been made a little higher than
it used to be. The canal was dry, and the soil in the bottom of the
section that had not been repaired had cracked into large, moss-covered
change I noticed was near the place where I turned back. The last
time I was there a big tract of land south of the canal was being
graded and streets laid out. Now most of the lots have large houses
on them, a fence hides much of it from view, and another bit of
countryside is gone forever.
I was there for hiking, not to study hydro issues or real estate
development. I went at mid-day, and we had been having a spell
of above average warm weather, so it was very pleasant. I arrived at the trailhead wearing a
long sleeve t-shirt with a sweat shirt. I decided to leave the top
layer behind, and within a short time, I was glad I did. There was a
slight breeze in my face on the outward trip, but I never felt cold,
and the wind was at my back on the return trip.
east on the canal bank I had some views of the Sierra
of the range is blocked by trees and houses, but at one point I
could see a fairly nice section, with a brilliant white topping of
turned back, I thought maybe I had not gone quite a mile, but it
turned out my total walk was 2.33 miles.
the Enterprise Trail parallels the Enterprise Canal throughout its
entire distance, this update also appears on the Canal
12/28/16: On December 26 I followed a trail/canal combination
route that I had never done before. Just south of where the Old Town
Trail goes under Freeway 168, a small ditch goes east across a
field. I had gone out in this field a short distance once before, to
take photos of the Sierra Nevada with snow on the mountains. On this
date I walked in the early afternoon, and the sun was far enough
west to shine on the snowy mountains and provide a spectacular
a lot of photos, ranging from Shuteye Peak above the San Joaquin
River to the Great Western Divide between the Kaweah and Kern
Rivers. The distance was too great to get really outstanding shots,
but I got some that were at least fair.
ditch goes across to Clovis Avenue, where I went south on a little
path at the edge of the field, then through the parking lots of a
commercial building and a motel. The Old Town Trail runs behind the
motel, so I got back on the main trail here and continued north back to
the John Wright trailhead, a sort of loop walk of just over two
I drove out Willow Avenue to Friant Road and walked on the Lewis
Eaton Trail. I reported on this area previously here
and although it's not actually a Clovis trail, I didn't feel this
walk justified a separate report, so I'm providing a few words about
saw several ground squirrels, a flock of quail, and a hawk. Where
the trail ends at the Coke
Hallowell Center for River Studies, it goes around a nice little
pond where we've seen turtles and many birds. Today there were
several large birds in trees next to the water, apparently black
river bed in this area is probably a mile wide, but the river itself
is much smaller, and is never in view along this part of the trail.
The route starts on the bank above the river, then drops down to the
river bottom on the extreme south side. At one point I came to a
place that was shaded by the high bank so that the low winter sun
never shines there, and there was heavy frost on several patches of
rested for a short time at the River Center, then returned to my
starting point, covering just under two and a half miles.
Update 12/30/16: There are three routes I usually take on the
Clovis trails, all starting at John Wright Station (trailhead and
rest stop). The repetition gets old after a while and I start
looking for variations. Where the trail from JWS crosses Clovis
Avenue at Alluvial, the Dry Creek Canal comes in from the north.
From the sidewalk on the south side of Alluvial, I often walk
along the canal about a hundred yards, past several huge
cottonwoods, then back up the other side of the canal to the
finishing this short loop today, I decided to walk along the
sidewalk on the north side of Alluvial for a short distance. Where
the canal goes under the street, access to the bank is blocked by a
fence. But not really. As I looked over the side of the bridge, what
did I see but ANOTHER bridge, an orange metal walkway about two feet
wide over the canal. To me, this was a clear invitation, and I went
down, across the footbridge, and up along the canal on the east
side. There is a narrow path that winds through the grass and trees,
but soon I came to a place where further progress would have
required pushing through low tree branches, so I turned back.
total walk was a little shorter than I hoped, 1.84 miles, but I felt
the extra work of walking on the rough narrow trail made up for not
being able to go my usual two-plus miles.
Update 1/21/17: I had a delightful walk today with my
daughter Teri and my older grandson's family - Johnny, Brittany,
Colton and Jack. The boys are 4 and 2, so the energy level was high
even before we left their house.
drove to the Enterprise Trail, entering from a residential area near
Nees and Temperance. This put us quite a bit east of my furthest
point when I walked there on December 14. We walked west, which
would have taken us to the "official" trailhead at
Shepherd and Sunnyside if we had walked far enough.
trail is blocked by a gate for a ways along this stretch, probably
to limit access to several large flood basins north of the canal.
Since these were 20 or 30 feet from the trail, and the alternate
route was along the canal bank only inches from the water, we had
trouble understanding the thinking behind the gate closure.
canal had been dry in mid-December, but was now carrying a good flow
of muddy water. The boys managed to find pebbles, small rocks and
chunks of concrete to throw in the water. When there were none of
these, they simply threw handfuls of mud. They also had a good time
stomping shallow puddles, and in a couple of cases, running through
deeper puddles. Before the walk was well underway it was clear that
it would be laundry day when they got home.
are a few oak trees along the route, producing a lot of acorns,
which seem to be a favorite of blue jays, who have to work
hard to crack them. In an attempt to pass on wisdom to the younger
generation, I showed them how to step on the nuts to crack them open
and make it easier for the birds. Both boys took to this activity
At one point the
trail goes by a pasture where two horses were in a shed eating from
containers. Colton had been to this spot about two years earlier,
when seeing horses was one of his favorite things. While his
interest has moderated with age, both boys still enjoyed seeing the
animals. This was especially so when one of them came over to the
fence right by us. It took him about 30 seconds to realize that no
one was offering apples or other treats, and he quickly returned to
his regular meal.
we had walked far enough, we turned back and returned to our
vehicles, having walked just over a mile and a half. Jack cheated a
little and got carried most of the return trip, but he certainly got
in his exercise running and jumping and throwing.
Update 1/30/17: Just a quick update this time: The Dry
Creeks of Fresno County are definitely wet
this year, and some of this water runs into the Dry Creek Canal,
so this waterway is also bigger than normal. I walked the Dry Creek
Trail between John Wright Station (trailhead) and Dry Creek Park,
and enjoyed the sight of rushing
water and places that
flooded. They really are not; it's just that many trees that are
normally not in the way of the flow have grown up in the waterway
over the years.
section of the canal and the part that comes from the north and east
where the canal begins still looks like
a creek. Once it passes John Wright, it's clearly a man-made
canal, even if it may follow the historic route of the creek. I
don't know if it does or not.
Update 3/12/17: While walking the trails is its own
reward from a health and exercise perspective, once in a while I see
something totally unexpected that just by itself makes the entire
day's effort worth while. Today it was a
trailer parked by a motel at the edge of downtown Clovis,
containing about a dozen old gas pumps. A sign on the trailer
announced that the owner is looking for more, but what he had on
this day was a real treasure. They included a Shell
pump, very much like the one from which I purchased my very
first gasoline, pumped by the attendant, who also washed the
windshield and checked the oil, all for about 25 cents a gallon.
There were a couple of real antiques, and a Richfield
pump, ancestor of the ubiquitous ARCO stations of today. Others
also stopped to look, and people I've shared the photos with were
Update 5/29/17: I walked on the Dry
Creek Trail where it runs along side the
canal of the same name from John
Wright Station to Dry Creek Park. At that point I usually follow
the trail where it runs on the east side of the park and beside the
Clovis Botanical Garden. Just past the edge of the Garden the trail
goes on both sides of a tree, and this is the perfect turnaround
place for a hike of almost 2.5 miles.
copious rain this year has encouraged rampant growth of various
plants along the trail, the most dramatic of which are sunflowers.
These are a small variety of this plant, with flowers
about two inches across. The plants usually range from two to six
feet in height, but this year there were many above my head, as much
as ten feet tall.
a place with a small section of chain link fence where the canal has
washed out the bank, undercutting the pavement slightly and leaving
the concrete base of a post hanging in the air. Today I saw that the
city had placed an additional large plastic barrier along the fence.
Since it's been like this for at least three years, I could only
wonder: Did a foolish adult or an unsupervised child start to fall
through the opening below the chain link fence? Or did the city only
now realize there was a hazard there and take steps to fix it?
I approached Cottonwood Park, at the southwest corner of Clovis and
Alluvial, a family came walking toward me on the trail. I started
taking pictures of them and the father, a Canada goose like the rest
of the family, took a few steps toward me to remind me not to get
too close. When I came back along that section, they were still on
the canal bank, and there was an entire multi-family goose gathering
swimming in the canal - three sets of parents, a bachelor uncle, and
at least a dozen kids.
a previous trail walk a few days earlier I had met Dan T., a man I
worked with for many years. He said that he's been walking the
trails several times a week for about three years. I've been doing
the same, but this was the first time we'd seen each other on the
trail. Today as I started my return walk, there was Dan coming
toward me. Perhaps we're fated to meet every few days now that the
ice has been broken.
11/14/17: When I walked the trail north of John Wright station
in October, I noticed that a
path had been swept or otherwise created through the leaves and
debris beside the trail. It winds around between the trees, and
offers a little up and down, so of course, I walked on that route. I
suspect it may have been created for a bike run (it was).
photographed but not written about a construction
project that has been underway at Clovis and Sierra Avenues,
just west of where the trail crosses. Dirt movement started in late
2016, so I took photos as land preparation, foundations, framing,
and finally walls appeared. In October I took what will be the last
batch of pictures, with the houses finished
Update 2/20/18: The low at my house this morning at 5:30
was 27 degrees. No one in his right mind would go out walking on a
day like that, so when I finally got up, I headed for the John
Wright Trailhead and walked south to Sierra Avenue. This is not as
far as I usually go on this route, but still a round trip of 2.08
miles. When I got on the trail it was 35 on my car thermometer.
south I saw only two other people on the trail, plus a woman with a
bike at the trailhead who was probably wondering if she really
wanted to ride in that cold weather. Coming back the count got up to
a dozen. The car thermometer registered 44 degrees as I drove home,
but the thermometer on my back patio was still under 40.
the trail I had a good view of the Sierra with a layer of new snow
at the higher elevations. Shuteye Peak at 8,000 feet was well
covered, and a friend got into snow at 2,000 during a bike ride
yesterday.. It's still a very dry year so far.
Update 4/28/18: We've had highs up around 90, but it has
cooled off the last few days. Even so, I was sure I would be
comfortable with just a light long-sleeve t-shirt this morning. I
was not. There was a strong breeze, which I should have discovered
before leaving home. I could have used another layer, and even
gloves. However, my discomfort was offset by seeing some baby
geese by the big flood basin near Cottonwood Park. On the way
back I saw a large, black bird, obviously not a normal visitor to
this area. Close inspection revealed that it was a turkey
vulture. We have plenty of them in the mountains, and even over
rural parts of the metro area, but I've never seen one on the ground
within the city.
Update 4/20/20: Today I walked from John Wright Station
to Cottonwood Park, a flat trail of about a mile and a half. It was
a good day for bird-watching. On the flood pond basin next to the
park I saw pelicans, a species that has made brief visits to our
area every year for the past five years or so. The
"Canada" geese that have become permanent residents in the
area were watching over several fuzzy babies. And on the shore of
the Dry Creek Canal I saw a
kingfisher struggling to swallow something long and slippery.
I took photos with my cell phone, the geese and pelicans were too
far away to get a decent shot.
is the time of the coronavirus pandemic, so the park had a warning
sign about physical distancing. However, I much preferred this
one, on the wall between the trail and the adjacent residential
Update 5/30/20: Today my daughter Teri and I walked on the Dry
Creek Trail from the John Wright Rest Stop to the northeast
corner of Dry Creek Park. This part of the trail runs beside the Dry
Creek Canal, which at this location is more a creek than a canal.
After three quarters of a mile, the trail arrives at Cottonwood
Park, adjacent to a large flood control basin. We were treated to
the sight of at least a dozen white pelicans swimming purposefully
westward, not far from the bank nearest us.
the intersection of Clovis and Alluvial Avenues took us into Dry
Creek Park, where we found many
geese occupying a large grassy area south of the playground.
Several families of adults and juveniles slowly crossed the trail,
and dropped down into
the the canal, with several adults keeping watch from the bank.
the end of our walk the trail went past the Clovis Botanical Garden,
where we enjoyed a number of trees and plants showing off spring
blossoms. Our turnaround point was the northeast corner of the
garden, which gave us a total mileage of 2.43.
photos from 5/30 walk
Update 11/18/21: Ten days ago I took my car in for a smog
check at a shop on Clovis Avenue. I spent the waiting time walking a
short distance on the Old Town Trail, a few hundred yards east of
the avenue. On my recent walks on this trail, I have not gone this
far south, and there have been a number of changes. A great deal of
material has been removed from the Walter
C. Smith property which lies just east of the trail between
Sierra and 3rd Street. The cranes and huge pipes seen in this
photo are mostly gone or moved away from the fence. South of
this property an old barn-like industrial
building had been removed years ago. Some grading was done, and
a cement slab was poured, but then years went by with no further
activity. Now a major complex is under construction, and a sign
declares that it will be the new Senior Center. The last few hundred
feet of the trail before 3rd Street are blocked off, and a wide dirt
area between trail and the businesses is also off limits.
November 17 I walked from the John Wright trailhead east to
Cottonwood Park. In the area that my great grandsons and I call Tree
Star Bay, the ground is brown with sycamore
leaves (these are the tree stars). However, the many trees there
look as if they have not lost a single leaf. It made me glad I don't
have to rake sycamore leaves like I used to in Bakersfield.
Update 1/3/2022: Early in my walks on the Old Town Trail
I noticed a small canal that ran between Clovis Avenue and the
trail. It was dry and overgrown with weeds, and apparently went into
a pipe where it met the trail just south of the Freeway 168
overpass. I assumed it was abandoned, but a year or two ago it had
water in it for a while. Today I noticed that it had been dredged
out, with weeds removed, the sides graded, and the top of the
bank smoothed off. There was just a little puddle of water, but stay
tuned for more updates.
Update 8/16/22: My great grandsons, Colton and Jack (the
Notorious Upshaw Brothers) were at my house today, and we walked on
the Old Town Trail north from John
Wright Station. I have a new camera, and they are always wanting
to take pictures, so I let Colton carry it on the outward hike, and
Jack took over on the way back. It's fascinating to see what kids
choose to photograph, although there was nothing really outrageous
today. I'm not showing the photo they took of the outhouse at the
trailhead, or the drainage grate by the tunnel under Minnewawa
Avenue. The photos I especially liked are displayed here.
years ago by this trail I observed the progress as a large building
was constructed. I naturally wondered what it was, and when it was complete
and a sign erected, I still wondered. The name,
"Defy," didn't offer much help, until a month or two ago
when I took the boys to one of their favorite spots, a trampoline
park. Ah! Defy gravity!
10/1922: I have been very lax about my morning walks this year,
in fact, I have done almost none. I made an October resolution to
get back to regular walking, and so far I have done pretty well.
absent from the trail for a long time usually means that there is
something new to see, and today was no exception. I went north on
the Old Town Trail from the John Wright Station. As I approached
Railroad Park, ready for a rest, I saw that a new bench had been
installed on the west side of the trail. There has long been one on
the east side, just about 50 feet beyond the new one.
went to where the trail crosses Peach Avenue, one of two
street-level crossings and saw an unusual sight - a newspaper
dispensing machine for the Fresno Bee. Once I examined it closely, I
saw that it was what I surmised - a new "Little
Library," re-purposing a ready-made container.
walked from John Wright twice previously this month, once going
south only as far as Spud's Spur by the CA 160 Freeway overpass, and
once east on the Dry Creek Trail to Cottonwood Park. The latter
trail parallels the canal of the same name, and is the most natural
section of the trails I walk, with a lot of sycamore and other
trees. Along this route, an old sycamore had fallen (or been cut
down - it was not obvious which). It looked like it had a lot of
rotten sections, especially near the base.
Update 11/17/22: On this date I parked on Pollasky Avenue
just south of Sierra and walked east on Sierra to the Old Town
Trail. Here I turned south and walked along the area between Sierra
and 3rd Street, a place I've walked many times. East of the trail
was the Walter C. Smith Company, which did some type
of drilling. On their property were a number of huge
cylinders or pipes, and various kinds of equipment including several
cranes. At the south end of this area there was a large barn-like
building, but it was torn down at least eight years ago. Now
every scrap of metal and every vehicle is gone from the Walter Smith
property, and a building that was apparently a combination shop and
office appears empty.
southern part of this property along Third Street has become the
site of a new senior center, which appears to be nearing completion.
The fence between the trail and this property has been moved west,
eliminating a strip of open land along the fence. The Tom Stearns
Shelter that offered a resting place where the trail met Third
Street has been moved west and is not accessible, and the iconic Walking
Doctor statue is surrounded by weeds. Presumably this area will
be properly restored when the senior center is completed.
completed my walk by going west on Third and back north on Pollasky.
At a house near Sierra I saw a remarkable sight, a truck with a
license plate from the state of Sinaloa in Mexico.