We liked to call them bean trees, but they are really catalpa

The lower leaves of this mullein are 16 inches long

The leaves are ten inches long, not including the stem

The white flowers turn to a rusty red seed head

Rabbits and rider along the Eaton Trail


Clovis Trail Walks


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Clovis Trails

(Updates are added to this section starting here; latest one here)

In one of my many travel reports, In January and February of 2014 I wrote about walks on the Clovis trail system. I've put in a lot of miles on these trails since my last entry, but haven't really had anything new to report until now.

I have mentioned in other reports that my daughter Teri and I are participating in the Thousand Mile Challenge, with Teri in charge of 700 of those miles. The Clovis trails offer plenty of opportunities to get in a walk of one to two miles, which is my normal daily goal. I also walk a lot on the canal banks, since both these routes offer a place to walk without the noise and fumes of auto traffic.

Three times in mid-August 2015 I walked on the Old Town Trail from John Wright Station (JWS), near Herndon and Villa,  to Tom Stearns Station, just east of Clovis Avenue at Third Street. The round trip distance is about two and a half miles, longer than any convenient canal routes, so I'm going to try to do it at least once a week.

I have taken the liberty of dividing the trail into several zones, although there is a certain amount of overlap and in some areas the east side is one zone and the west is another. Just south of JWS the trail crosses the Dry Creek Canal, then goes through what I call the Industrial Zone on the east and the first Empty Zone on the west. That side of the trail is close to the Derrel's Mini-Storage where I keep my motor home, but most of the area is a large vacant field.

On the east you will find the American Ambulance Training Center, the back lot of a VW dealer, and various other businesses. Soon after that the trail passes through a tunnel under Herndon Avenue, one of the metro area's busiest streets, mostly a divided six-lane roadway. Here the right side also becomes industrial, with a large water facility with multiple tanks and enough valves and pipes to keep a hydraulic engineer happy for days.

After passing other businesses on both sides of the trail, you walk under an elevated section of California Freeway 168, which runs north and east from central Fresno to the far eastern edges of Clovis. This marks the Feral Cat Zone. Within a few feet of each other are several signs telling you not to feed the feral cats, several cats, and various metal food and water dishes.

I'm pretty certain these creatures do not consider themselves feral cats; in fact, they don't even consider themselves "cats," which is a human description. They probably consider themselves kings and queens of all they survey, with a few handy servants taking care of their needs.

In mid-August I saw four cats, three of them orange, quite possibly members of the same family. Their names were Will Feral, Feral Fawcett-Majors, Pharoahl Ramses II and of course, Free-Feral.

That day I noticed two women approaching the trail beside the freeway from the east, an area that is blocked from the trail by a chain link fence. One woman came up to the fence and squirted something from a spray can or bottle on to what looked like a patch of Astroturf. After I went on I wished I had asked what they were doing, and vowed to check out the green patch next time I walked that trail.

On August 23rd I returned to this area, and it was indeed a square of artificial turf. Next to it were two 12-inch square concrete paving blocks, with three or four food and water dishes on and beside them. I still didn't know if the lady was pro-cat and was providing water or cleaning the dishes; or anti-cat, and was spraying something that would repel the animals. On my third trip, this question was answered when I saw cats enjoying breakfast at this location.

That same day a man was riding toward me from the south on a recumbent bike. He came to a stop on the other side of the trail, where there are several food dishes, also on concrete blocks, and at least two cats in attendance. I suspected that he was part of the notorious Feral Cat Feeding Crew. Although I did not see him actually serving food, when I walked back past that spot later, there was fresh dry cat food in one of the dishes, and I noticed that his bike had a cargo box behind the seat.

Moving on past the cat zone, there is a large open field on the east, which is more of the Empty Zone; and houses and apartments on the west, beginning the Residential Zone. On the east side, a small ditch runs through the field, going into a large pipe and out of sight just before the trail. I can't find a name for this ditch and it does not seem to appear on the Fresno Irrigation District's map. It is possible to walk along this canal, although the bank is rough and narrow enough that I am not tempted.

The Residential Zone on the west becomes single family homes as you approach the street crossing at Sierra and Clovis. There is a wide strip of land beside the trail, plus an alley of sorts, so you are never close to the houses. The east side also becomes residential to an extent, as you pass two large hotels that front on Clovis Avenue.

When you cross the streets, the trail continues between various businesses on the west and several short zones on the left. First is the Shop Zone, which is only two stores long, highlighted by the Biscotti House.

Then there is a Mini-Residential zone, which several small homes, of which this one is my favorite. This is followed by what appears to be a large scrap yard on the east with cranes and other large equipment in evidence. I call this the Junk Zone. The last part of this area, approaching Third Street, used to be part of that zone, with a pile of abandoned lawn mowers and a large barn-like building. These are gone now, and a large concrete slab has been poured, apparently in preparation for a more civilized sort of business. This supports my rule: Photograph it before it disappears. (In June of 2016 there has been no construction or further development on this site.) Later research revealed that the "scrap yard" is actually the Walter C. Smith drilling company, which provides horizontal drilling services for pipeline contractors and the like.

My turnaround point was Tom Stearns Station where the trail meets Third Street. Here there are benches, a roof to keep out sun and rain, and a statue of "The Walking Doctor," William C. Pendergrass. Dr. Pendergrass, along with his sons, two of whom were also physicians, served the Clovis community from 1912 to 1980.

Heading back to the starting point, the west side of the trail is the Business District. If you arrive here late at night, there are several motels where you can spend the night, and if you are really tired of walking, you can buy a used car.

For some of my walks, I have been getting up way too early, sometimes by 6 a.m., to beat the heat. Therefore the sun is just above the horizon as I walk. One morning a man passed me, walking the same direction as I was. Near the freeway, he stopped and faced toward the rising sun, and put his hands together as if in prayer. I thought perhaps he might be Indian, since some tribes have a ritual of praying toward the rising sun, or at least greeting it.

Along much of the northern part of the trail, there is a lot of "undeveloped" space beside the trail, 10 to 30 feet wide. Most of this is planted with trees, including what I call a pine forest in one spot. I usually try to walk on the dirt beside the trail, since it is more comfortable than asphalt. In one stretch there is a path worn in the trailside area for 200 feet or more.

Since I'll be hiking on these trail for many years, I'll provide an update one of these days.

--Dick Estel, August 2015

Clovis Trail Photos


Clovis Trail Updates

Update 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.

I also 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.

Where 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.

I also 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 Freeway 168.

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 Basin.

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.

Since 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.)

Just 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 cool.

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.

This 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, including gourds and mullein.

The 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.

The 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.

The 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 stumps.

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 the Enterprise 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 section.

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 Geese.

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 Colton.

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 little.

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 normal speed.

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 he went.

We walked a little over two miles, although Colton got in an extra quarter mile with his circle riding, 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 trees, which 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 carpet.

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 the trail.

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 was flooded, 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 and new 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 Frozen Foods.

This company is owned by the Smittcamp 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.

Update 4/20/16
: 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.

Two other hikers stopped and commented and  we all agreed that this was a rare event, having never seen a pelican in the Fresno area before.

Update: 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 himself.

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 the River 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 shot.

There 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

There 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.

There 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.

My 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 old 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 growth.

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 cool.

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.

Update 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.

Update 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.

There 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.

Both of these appeared within the last two years. They were an unexpected discovery, and they certainly add a unique touch to hiking in Clovis. (4/18/23 Update: These libraries can be found all over the country and perhaps beyond. Since they first appeared, there have been units added at Dry Creek Park and at the Old Town Trail junction with 3rd Street.)

Update 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.

From 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."

The 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 few years.

On 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 next flood.

I 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 sections.

Another 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.

Anyway, 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.

Walking east on the canal bank I had some views of the Sierra Nevada. Most 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 snow.

Where I turned back, I thought maybe I had not gone quite a mile, but it turned out my total walk was 2.33 miles.

(Since the Enterprise Trail parallels the Enterprise Canal throughout its entire distance, this update also appears on the Canal Walk page.)


Update 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 view.

I took 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.

The 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 miles.

Today I drove out Willow Avenue to Friant Road and walked on the Lewis Eaton Trail. I reported on this area previously here and 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 it here.

I 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 crowned night-herons.

The 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 grass.

I 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 intersection.

After 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.

My 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.

We 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.

The 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.

The 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.

There 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 with great enthusiasm.

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.

After 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.

Enterprise Trail Photos

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 look 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.

This 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 duly impressed.

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.

The 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.

There's 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?

As 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.

On 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.

Update 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).

I've 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 and occupied.

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.

Going 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.

Along 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 near the pond, 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.

Although I took photos with my cell phone, the geese and pelicans were too far away to get a decent shot.

It 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 area

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.

Crossing 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.

Near 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.

New 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.

On 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.

Several 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!

Update 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.

Being 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.

I 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.

I've 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.

The 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.

I 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.

Update 6/14/23: On my recent trail walks I don't think I have seen anything particularly unusual. Since I walked on the Eaton Trail at the end of May, I could have forgotten. I've also walked on the Clovis Old Town Trail and Dry Creek Trail. Work is still not complete on the new senior center, mentioned last November, but it's getting close. I think the record rains this winter slowed and maybe even temporarily halted work.

I've been making a much better effort to get out and walk, with nine "in town" outings in May, and five so far in June. The few photos I took tell what story there is, maybe 500 words worth.

Update 7/1723: Walking on the Dry Creek trail between John Wright Station and Cottonwood park recently, I noticed a lot of strands of spider web strung across the canal/creek, from bank to bank. I had to ask myself, what kind of spider can build a web across an eight foot wide fast-flowing stream. I didn't get an answer. 

Update 12/4/23: Although in June I was making a "better effort to get out and walk," that didn't last. I've been very lazy the last few months, with only two trail walks in September through November. Of course, I did a lot of other walking, with seven miles total in September, over five in October, and ten in November. I've already done two trail walks this month, yesterday and today.

Since my trail walks are shorter than they used to be, on December 3 I entered the Old Town Trail at Sierra in order to walk a section I have not reached lately, coming from the other direction. I thought I had somehow wandered on to Blue Jay Way. In a short stretch along the Old Town Trail between Sierra and where the freeway crosses, I saw 25 to 30 blue jays. They were not "flocked together" in a large group, but there were three or four in each tree, flying from tree to tree, or down to the ground and back to a tree. I've often see these birds, but never so many.

I also had a good time kicking up the dry leaves that have collected, an activity I enjoyed long ago with my older grandson, and one which my older daughter also still indulges in. And there were some very brilliant red leaves on a couple of trees.

Today I walked one of my most frequent routes, from John Wright Station to Cottonwood Park, where there is a nice bench to rest on just as I feel like I need a break. A coyote was recently filmed walking along this trail near the park, so I was on the alert all the time. The canal here is really more like a creek, with trees, bushes and plants filling the channel. I decided if I were a coyote, I would set up shop in that channel. There are plenty of places to hang out without being seen, there is water most of the year, and there are squirrels every day. There's also the chance to catch an occasional small dog that is allowed off the leash to go down to the water and drink or play. I saw four feral cats on the canal bank, another popular food source with coyotes. And you can go up or down the canal a mile or so in each direction with plenty of cover.

Photos from December 2023

Update 5/3/24: About a week ago I walked a familiar section of the Clovis trail system, along the Dry Creek Canal between Cottonwood Park and John Wright Station (a trailhead and rest stop). There was no evidence of coyotes, but the flood basin near Cottonwood had the usual assortment of ducks, geese, egrets and other birds. It's the season for baby geese, and although I did not see any in this area, I spotted some on the lawn of the Clovis hospital late in April. I saw a few photogenic scenes along the way.

Since it was a Sunday there were a lot of walkers and bike riders out, and of course some walkers were being led by their dogs. The weather was nice, and I was reminded that I need to get out more often.


All photos copyright 2002-2023 by Dick Estel. Permission granted for personal use only; commercial use prohibited.


Photos (Click to enlarge; pictures open in new window)


American Ambulance training center

One of several auto body
shops in the commercial zone

Tanks and pipes
The pine forest The trail and the path Blazing sunrise

Place for illegally feeding feral cats
(turned out, NOT illegal after all)

Cat annoyed at having his breakfast interrupted Wondering if there really is
such a thing as a free lunch?
We liked to call them bean trees,
but they are really catalpa

The leaves are ten inches long,
not including the stem

The whole tree
Dried seed pods from last year November - leaves are gone, but
there are still plenty of "beans"
A sweet place to stop if you're hungry
 The  mowers and a large building next to them
disappeared soon after this photo was taken
This is what the place looks like now Trail walkers are always fascinated by this house
The Tom Stearns Station The Walking Doctor

Frederic Remington's "Bronco Buster"

Open space between the trail,
houses and Sierra Avenue
The Comfort Inn Couple being comfortable

Crane silhouetted against the morning sky

The official northern border of Old Town Clovis

Shelter and bench in the park
How Clovis got its start Benches at John Wright Station Trail system map near John Wright Station
People on the Clovis Old Town Trail
Resting at Tom Stearns Station Retro street lights on Third Street Coast redwoods by the trail
The Rough Fire continues to provide red sunrises The Wooded Path Cat dismayed at being photographed
A tempting side trip

Not as tempting once
you start down the trail

The end of the trail and
the start of the workday


View returning to the main
trail from Spud's Spur

Care for Clovis - OR ELSE! The history of Clovis is outlined in signs along the trail
Unlike most of the metro area, drivers and pedestrians respect each other at trail crossings

One of the parks along the Old Town Trail

After days of smoke, some nice clouds and blue sky
Apollo begins his daily journey

Gourds growing along the Dry Creek Trail

Moon flowers on the creek bank

The lower leaves of this
mullein are 16 inches long

Mullein blossoms confused
about what season it is

The Dry Creek Trail and Clovis Avenue

Creek side house Another house by the creek Automobile graveyard

Sunrise from Old Town Trail
north of John Wright Station

Immortalized in chalk Multi-colored fall carpet
The catalpa tree has lost its huge "elephant ear" leaves
Red leaves against the green The catalpa tree has lost its
huge "elephant ear" leaves
Snow on the Sierra
Blazing red trees line the trail

Green grass along the side of the trail

Fall color against the evergreens
Bright orange leaves on the
northern section of the trail
A frosted stump More frost
Part of a large industrial complex Pallets and other stuff are
seen in the back storage lot
This guy was sitting on the lamp
post where I end my walk
A look up the trail Peach orchard east of the trail Dry Creek Trailhead

Control gates on the Enterprise Canal

This is a conveyor belt that
removes leaves and trash...

....and dumps them here for later removal

Across from a busy city street,
a touch of the countryside
Above average rain has everything green this year A scenic pile
Urban meadow and forest Typical section of the Enterprise Trail Decorations brighten the view
Teri on the Old Town Trail And at Tom Stearns Station Frozen puddle
Red seeds blanket the ground Jack is ready to hike Walking the beam
Colton on the bridge Johnny could not resist this de facto climbing wall A work of art beside Spud's Spur
Flowing rain water, sand and
a fallen branch created this

Blue Jay foraging by the Old Town Trail

Lone tree above the trail
Flowering plum Fallen petals turn the ground pink Pink float
Puffy yellow blossoms

Water drops on the grass make it droop

Ducks looking for a handout
The Walking Doctor, where
Old Town Trail meets 3rd Street
The story of the doctor New sycamore leaves beside the Dry Creek Trail
Cranes at Walter C. Smith Co.

This crane has become a flag pole

Blossoms at John Wright Station
Why I didn't walk on Spud's Spur Redbud at it's peak A close-up
Enjoying the redbud trail Massed flowers in the Clovis Botanical Garden

Lots of rain = good weather for ducks

The geese are happy too Raindrops on red leaves El Nino rains have brought every shade of green
New live oak leaves The catalpa tree was the last to
leaf out, but has the biggest leaves
Huge leaves help identify Catalpa
Massive spring blossoms at
the Clovis Botanical Garden
A closer look

Fruit trees across the field
from the Dry Creek Trail


Walkers enjoying the Clovis trail system

Redbud in bloom near Dry Creek Park

A rare visitor to Fresno - a pelican in the flood basin
Sign saying that recycled water is used for irrigation
Sign saying that recycled water is used for irrigation Crepe myrtle decorates the trail The catalpa  tree is nice and
thick with new growth for 2016
This stump at Cottonwood Park looks ancient...  ...but not too old to put out new growth in 2016 Maintenance crew cut the sucker
growth down, but it grows back
Most folks call it a weed, but it has its own beauty A robin finds something yummy beside the canal I reached this spot in two  minutes
(I started about 200 feet before it)
Table tops and distant hills
in San Joaquin River drainage
Rabbits and rider along the Eaton Trail Pond between the trail and river
These bushes are common along roads and trails The white flowers turn to a rusty red seed head This flower is well-defended by sharp thorns
Quail on the fence at Hallowell
Center for River Studies
One more in my collection of unidentified flowers Crepe myrtle with the blossoms
at the bottom, Old Town Trail

A big cottonwood branch broke
off and fell across the trail

Bottom of the broken branch The view from the other side, on the Dry Creek Trail
White crepe myrtle Huge cottonwood near the Dry Creek Trail The John Wright Station
Sunflower next to Dry Creek Canal Slanted silhouettes Grass near the canal
Three giant cottonwoods Library by Cottonwood Park Close-up
Library south of Nees Avenue Close-up A particularly scenic section of the Dry Creek Canal
Construction project by the trail
at Clovis and Sierra Avenues

Who knows what will rise from this dirt pile?

A progress report in December 2016

February 8, 2017 - the foundation is poured Framing is up on February 18

Walls starting to appear on March 12

Looking more "finished" in late April Exterior walls painted in May Only a few more finishing touches needed
The finished product - September 2017

Enterprise Canal with new
concrete lining on one side

Rock barrier at end of new concrete section The "old original" bank
Cracked mud on the canal bottom
with some bright green moss
New development near canal Distant snow covered Sierra
Silk tree with its fall color Construction by the Dry Creek Trail Through the Old Town Trail
tunnel under Herndon Avenue
Looking toward the Kings River
area from near Old Town Trail
Great Western Divide covered
in snow in December 2016
Low winter sun never touches this spot
below the river bank on the Lewis Eaton Trail
Such a tempting puddle! Jack could not resist this one Finding rocks to throw in the canal
"I wonder how I got so muddy" Stomping acorns for the blue jays A careful bridge crossing,
with a nervous dad right behind
Watching the horses And being watched by one A failed attempt at a group photo
Water outside the normal channel,
giving a flooded appearance
Water rushes through a narrow section of the canal Big tree reaches across the
canal by Dry Creek Park
New blossoms along the Old Town
Trail north of John Wright Station
A close up Parked at a motel along the
Old Town Trail in March 2017
The first gas I bought came from a pump like this A couple of rare antiques Richfield, ancestor of ARCO
Redbud greets visitors to the Dry Creek Park Along the trail just north of the park Along the trail frrom John Wright
Station to Cottonwood Park
New grasses along the trail

Filaree are common from valley to foothills

A very well designed ant hill
The catalpa tree by the Old Town
Trail in bloom in the spring of 2017
A closer look Silk tree in bloom by the Old Town Trail
The Goose Family enjoys a walk on the trail A major goose gathering The canal has undercut the trail here, so
a second barrier was added in May 2017
A nice crop of "beans" on the catalpa tree Clovis had tiny houses before they were a thing The "Walking Doctor" enjoys the morning sun
The path beside the trail Hanging over a fence for the enjoyment of trail walkers Smoke from the Railroad Fire near Yosemite creates a spectacular sunrise in September 2017 
Leaves by the Old Town Trail in downtown Clovis The catalpa tree along the traill Insect galls on tree beside the trail
Baby geese by Cottonwood Park flood basin Turkey vulture - a rare visitor in the city Pelicans visit the flood basin
at Clovis and Alluvial every year
Squirrel peaking over the fence at the pond Newly installed device to count bikers and hikers Coast redwoods never die, they just
put out new growth from the old stump
Tree with catkins along the Old Town Trail Kingfisher having breakfast Signs of the pandemic of 2020
Stick across the canal catches floating leaves Forget TV - get your news from
the wall along the Dry Creek Trail
Yucca in the Clovis Botanical Garden
Geese in Dry Creek Park Geese in Dry Creek Canal Sycamore leaves cover the ground -
with millions more still on the trees
Newly-dredged spur canal east
of Old Town Trail in January 2022
Shelter and sign at the trailhead
near Herndon and Minnewawa
Bowls raked up to aid in irrigation
Above right 2 and next 3 by Colton and Jack Upshaw
Defy what? Gravity - it's a trampoline park Jack climbs the wall
(His dad did it seven years earlier)
A flight of geese over the trail
This vacant area was once filled with
stored equipment and vehicles
The rest stop shelter was moved
out of the way during construction
Weeds and brush surround the Walking Doctor
Reflections in the flood
basin near Cottonwood Park
Foam on the Dry Creek Canal Dry grass along the Lewis Eaton Trail
Unidentified flowers along the Eaton Trail, May 2023
Sucker growth from a stump has
created this nice sycamore "bush"
Brilliant red leaves contrast with
the green pine in fall 2023
A closer look
Was this a Teddy Bear Mafia hit? Young cattail plants in the Dry Creek Canal Young willow trees
A creek-like stretch of the canal
Related Links
Clovis Trails Dry Creek Trailhead Canal Walks
Coke Hallowell Center for River Studies San Joaquin River Parkway   Enterprise Canal Break
More about the break Black Crowned Night-Herons Lewis Eaton Trail
Railroad Fire Dry Creek Trail Canada Goose Invasion


Walking the beam



Travel Reports
Before 2002     2002     2003     2004     2005     2006     2007     2008     2009     2010     2011     2012

2013     2014     2015     2016     2017     2018    2019     2020     2021     2022     2023     2024     Other

Before 2002
Early Trips Later Trips
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Early Stargazer Rock Camps 1961 Monterey Jazz Festival
Bluegrass Odyssey
Multi-Year Compilations
Fresno Area Canal Walks Clovis Trail Walks
Journey of 2002 (Ohio & Back) Logandale & Utah Parks 2002
Arizona & Bluegrass on the River 2003 Grand Canyon & Logandale Bluegrass 2003
Parkfield & Huck Finn 2003 Early Frog Camps (2003-2005)
Paso Robles & Parkfield 2004 Road Trip 2004 (Ohio & Back)
Bullhead City Bluegrass, Mesa, Superstition Bluegrass 2004 Bluegrass in the Foothills 2004
Arizona-Southern California 2005 Huck Finn Bluegrass 2005
Morro Bay 2005 Stargazer Rock Camp 2005
Parkfield Bluegrass 2005    
Huck Finn Bluegrass 2006 Las Vegas Commodore Expo 2006
Rock Creek Non-Camp Stargazer Rock Camp 2006
Parkfield Bluegrass 2006 Oregon 2006
Bluegrass in the Foothills 2006    
Bullhead City, Bakersfield, Joshua Tree 2007 Frog Camp 2007
Eastern Sierra Journey 2007 Las Vegas Commodore Expo 2007
Stargazer Rock Camp 2007 Roundup #1
(Mother Lode; Kings Canyon, Yosemite)
Bluegrass in the Foothills 2007    
Nevada-Arizona Hockey & Bluegrass 2008 Parkfield Bluegrass 2008
Frog Camp 2008 Las Vegas Commodore Expo 2008
Stargazer Rock Camp 2008 Bluegrass in the Foothills 2008
Hobbs Grove Festival 2008     
Roundup 2009
Las Vegas, Mariposa, Table Mountain, Orange County
Frog Camp 2009 Southern Journey 2009
Parkfield Bluegrass 2009 Stargazer Rock Camp 2009
Bluegrass Tour 2009
Brown Barn, Plymouth, Hobbs Grove
Hensley Lake Camp
Mojave National Preserve & Havasu Bluegrass Roundup 2010
Hensley Reservoir, Mojave Preserve 2 & 3
Parkfield Bluegrass 2010 Lake Almanor & Mt. Lassen 2010
Las Vegas Expo Summergrass
   Brown Barn, Watsonville & Hobbs Grove
Roundup 2011
Mariposa, Hensley, Table Mountain
Frog Camp 2011
Parkfield Bluegrass 2011 Frank, Pat, Dick & Ted's Excellent Adventure
Northern Coast Journey 2011 Las Vegas Commodore Expo 2011
Good Old Fashioned Bluegrass Festival Chilkoot & Stargazer Rock Camp
Kings River & Brown Barn Bluegrass Festivals Hensley Camp 2011
Parkfield Bluegrass 2012 Four Squaw Leap Hikes
Northern Coast Journey 2012 Las Vegas Commodore Expo 2012
Stargazer Rock Camp 2012 Bluegrass in the Foothills 2012
A 3-Event Weekend
Farmer's Market, Kings River Bluegrass, Antique Fair
2012 Las Vegas CAN AM Hockey Challenge
Fall Hikes
Finegold Trail; Bower Cave
Into Los Gatos Canyon
Silver Stick Tournament - Canada Sierra Foothills - Winter 2013
Finegold Trailhead, Hensley Lake, San Joaquin Gorge
Death Valley - Alabama Hills - Whitney Portal Sierra Foothills - Spring 2013
San Joaquin Gorge Hike, Big Creek Drive
Parkfield Bluegrass 2013 Shaver Crossing Station & Big Creek
Lake Almanor & Caribou Crossroads Mono Hot Springs
Good Old Fashioned Bluegrass Festival A Wedding in Duluth
Sequoia Park Hiking Roundup 2013
Kings River Bluegrass, Buena Vista Peak Hike, Hensley Lake Camp, North Fork Mono Museum, White Rock Road, Hockey in Denver
2014 Winter Hikes
Millerton South Bay Trail, Clovis Trail, Hite's Cove Trail
San Joaquin Gorge Campout
Colorado Springs Hockey Tournament Lake Havasu Bluegrass
2014 Spring Hikes
Stockton Creek Preserve, San Joaquin River Trail, San Joaquin Gorge, Millerton Lake, Sycamore Creek, Buena Vista Peak Again
NORCAL Hockey Playoffs and Santa Cruz Visit
Greeley Hill Road Trip Parkfield Bluegrass 2014
Journey of 2014 Journey of 2014 Photos
Nelder Grove Hikes 2014 Sentinel Dome Hike
2014 Fall & Winter Hikes
San Joaquin River Trail South & North, Red Rock Canyon Nevada, San Joaquin South Again
California Flat Campout
Snow Day with the  Upshaw's   
Rambler Hikes 2015 Part 1 Rambler Hikes 2015 Part 2
Adventures of 2015 - February to May
(Goofy Smith Flat, Coast Redwoods & Big Sur, Pine Flat, Finegold Trail, Edison Point Trail, Nelder Grove)
Adventures of 2015 - June to December
(Lewis Creek Trail, Kaiser Pass, Kaiser Pass Again, Taft Point, Kings River Bluegrass, Shaver Logging Road, San Joaquin River Trail, Lewis S Eaton Trail, San Joaquin River Gorge, Thanksgiving at the Gorge)
Lake Tahoe & Virginia City Parkfield Bluegrass 2015
Colorado Springs Cousin Convention 2015 Las Vegas Commodore Expo 2015
Stargazer Rock Camp 2015 Grand Canyon & Arches National Parks
Adventures of 2016 Part 1 Rambler Hikes 2016 Page 1
Adventures of 2016 Part 2 Rambler Hikes 2016 Page 2
Adventures of 2016 Part 3 Rambler Hikes 2016 Page 3
Adventures of 2016 Part 4 A Pennsylvania Adventure
Adventures of 2016 Part 5 Parkfield Bluegrass 2016
Adventures of 2016 Part 6 Las Vegas Commodore Expo 2016
Adventures of 2016 Part 7 Stargazer Rock Camp 2016
Adventures of 2017 Part 1 Rambler Hikes 2017 Page 1
Adventures of 2017 Part 2 Rambler Hikes 2017 Page 2
Adventures of 2017 Part 3 Rambler Hikes 2017 Page 3
Adventures of 2017 Part 4 Hiking and Hockey
Adventures of 2017 Part 5 Lake Almanor
Adventures of 2017 Part 6 Northern California Redwood Hike
Parkfield Bluegrass 2017 Stargazer Rock Camp 2017
Travel Blog 2017 (an experiment) Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks
Adventures of 2018 Part 1 Rambler Hikes 2018 Page 1
Adventures of 2018 Part 2 Rambler Hikes 2018 Page 2
Adventures of 2018 Part 3 Rambler Hikes 2018 Page 3
Adventures of 2018 Part 4 Parkfield Bluegrass 2018
Adventures of 2018 Part 5 Northern California Journey 2018
Adventures of 2018 Part 6
Adventures of 2019 Part 1 Rambler Hikes 2019 Page 1
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Utah National Parks Rambler Hikes 2019 Page 3
Adventures of 2019 Part 3 Parkfield Bluegrass 2019
Adventures of 2019 Part 4 Adventures of 2019 Part 5
Adventures of 2020 Part 1 Adventures of 2020 Part 5
Adventures of 2020 Part 2 Adventures of 2020 Part 6
Adventures of 2020 Part 3 Adventures of 2020 Part 7
Adventures of 2020 Part 4 Rambler Hikes 2020 Page 1
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Adventures of 2021 Part 2
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Updated May 3, 2024