2019 Rambler Hikes Page 2

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Rambler Hikes 2017          Rambler Hikes 2018         2019 Part 1


Oakhurst River Parkway & Corlieu Falls          Rancheria Falls & Big Creek


Oakhurst River Parkway
by Dick and Wes

Dick: Our May hike brought us to a trail that none of us had hiked before, although I had been on part of it with daughter Jennifer in the early 2000's. We also did a second hike that was new to half our group. However, I'm getting ahead of things here. On May 30 Ardyss, Allen and I left my place in Clovis at 7:30 a.m., and met Wes at the Park & Ride at Highways 41 and 145. We expected to have Don join us there but he had to cancel at the last minute, so we all got in Wes's Highlander for the 40-mile drive to Oakhurst. Here we met with Bev from nearby Ahwahnee, and hiked on the Oakhurst River Parkway. I didn't really remember what the trail was like or even where it started, but an internet search turned up the needed information, and we found it with no trouble.

Wes:  The Ramblers' hike today was a "two for." That is to say, we got two hikes for the price of one. We started the morning at the Oakhurst River Parkway which offers trails along China Creek and the Fresno River. Although we were in the midst Oakhurst, the trails gave the illusion of being in the wilderness. We crossed several foot bridges and enjoyed the lush green plants and valley oak forest on the river banks.

Ardyss, Bev, Dick and Allen ready to hike The Fresno River
We didn't see them, but there are beaver in the river A rustic bridge

Dick: Along the trail and in the town park we saw a beautiful flower, which Allen identified as rock rose - not wildflowers, but still providing an added scenic bonus as we walked. From the park, the trail led us down into the channel of China Creek for about a quarter mile. We came to a short uphill section and found ourselves in town again, on Road 425. We walked west a short distance to a traffic signal where we could cross safely, then on a sidewalk in front of a small office building. Soon we were back in nature, this time walking along the bank of the Fresno River. We found a place where a senior citizen who's almost 70 could pose safely for a "Wes on the rock" picture.

Rock roses were planted in a number of places by the trail and road Wes on the rock in the river


Wes: We saw a field of poppies which may have been planted years ago but appeared to be growing at random. They offered an interesting foreground to one of the town murals. Retracing our steps, we finished the river walk well before noon. Bev left for home to prepare for company while the rest of us drove up Highway 41 about five miles for our second hike of the day along the Lewis Creek Trail.

We wanted to see Corlieu Falls at its peak flow, and we were not disappointed. The water roared as it raced through large boulders and down a 150 foot drop, offering lots of interesting sights and sounds.

Dick: Although Wes and I have hiked this trail a number of times, it was the first visit for Ardyss and Allen, who were delighted with this little-known dramatic waterfall. Although it's only a bit more than a half mile from the trailhead to a viewing platform, it's fairly steep, and rocky in places.

The trail descends into the Lewis Creek canyon through a forest of canyon live oaks, ponderosa pine and cedar, plus the usual bushes and plants. Flowers we saw included Indian pinks, elderberry, miner's lettuce, bear clover and wild iris.

Corlieu Falls A rush of water at the base of the falls

After enjoying the cool surroundings at the falls, we hiked back to the car, and drove to Oakhurst for a delicious lunch at Pete's Place, where we discussed our next hike. Options include Nelder Grove and Rancheria Falls. Stay tuned!

More Photos

Rancheria Falls and Big Creek

This is a hike the Ramblers have made several times, the first one in 2016. It's fairly short and easy, but the reward is one of the more spectacular waterfalls outside of our national parks.

We left my house at 7:30 on June 19 and drove the 60 miles to Huntington Lake. At the east end of the lake a dirt road goes in about a mile to the trailhead for the Rancheria Falls Trail. Our group this time included Sue, Wes, Allen and Dick. It was cool and comfortable when we got on the trail, although we did encounter some obstacles - at least five logs that had fallen across the trail. The route had just opened, so we understood why there had not been time for the logs to be cleared.

The Ramblers: Dick Estel, Sue Wirt, Allen Ward, Wes Thiessen Getting around the first fallen tree

We managed to climb over or go around all the logs, and reached our goal, where we saw that the falls was running as full as we had ever seen it. It was the first visit for Sue and Allen, but Wes and I have been there with or without other members of the Ramblers a number of times.

Following his usual habit, Wes went down a steep, narrow unofficial trail to a good vista point. Although there is a clear view of the 150 foot drop of the falls from top to bottom at the end of the trail, the spot Wes chose gives a better view of the cascades below the main drop.

Wes finds the perfect viewing spot Rancheria Falls and the cascades below

We enjoyed the view and the dramatic sound of rushing water, getting well dampened with mist in the process. As we took a final look at Rancheria Falls, I could not help thinking how much my great grandson Colton would like it, having become a big fan of waterfalls after his first visit to Yosemite at age three.

Rancheria Falls The big cascade below the main falls

It was not even noon when we got back to the car. Since our hike had been fairly short and easy, we decided to go to the Big Creek Trail, which starts behind the China Peak Ski Lodge, about a mile from the Rancheria road. We have made this hike before, although we never go very far - less than half a mile round trip in this case. This creek is even bigger than Rancheria, and at this season is mostly white water crashing and cascading over rocks and boulders.

Wes gets too close to Big Creek Lots of white water

After we finished our second hike, we made a lunch stop at Shaver Lake, where we ate at the Pub and Grub, an excellent restaurant we had discovered by accident on a previous Ramblers hike. We missed those members of our group who were not able to join us on this special hike, but hopefully they will be back on the trial in July.

--Dick Estel, July 2019

More Rancheria & Big Creek Photos








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

Photos by Wes and Dick

Oakhurst River Parkway & Corlieu Falls         Rancheria & Big Creek
Oakhurst River Parkway & Corlieu Falls
China Creek Nearby Yosemite and Sierra wildlife are featured on this mural at the Boys & Girls Club Another mural with a stand of poppies

The Ramblers at Corlieu Falls: Dick, Allen, Ardyss and Wes

Making our way up the trail Wild iris provided a bright spot along the trail
Rancheria Falls and Big Creek
Allen at the the end of the trial near the falls Big Creek Clouds above the ridge
Related Links
Oakhurst River Parkway Pete's Place Oakhurst CA
Lewis Creek Trail Corlieu Falls  Rancheria Video
Rancheria Falls Trail Huntington Lake Other Rancheria Hikes
Rancheria Falls 2019
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Updated July 13, 2019