2023 Rambler Hikes Page 4


Photos          Related Links          More Travel Reports


Rambler Hikes 2017          Rambler Hikes 2018         Rambler Hikes 2019          Rambler Hikes 2020

Rambler Hikes 2021          Rambler Hikes 2022          2023 Page 1          2023 Page 2          2023 Page 3          2024 Page 1


Hensley Reservoir          San Joaquin River West

Hensley Reservoir
(Photos by Wes, Dave and Dick)

The Ramblers finished up 2023 with two hikes in December, one of which I missed due to a bad cold. We could not find a date that worked for everyone, so we decided to have two hikes, six days apart. This gave everyone a chance for an outing, and some were able to make both of them.

Our first adventure was on December 7, with our destination the one-mile Po-ho-nichi Trail at Hensley Reservoir in the Madera County foothills. Six Ramblers met at the trailhead - Wes, Dave, Bruce, Susan, Jackie and myself. Wes and I were the only ones who had hiked here, at least in recent memory.

This trail goes up, then down, then up, then down, repeat, repeat, repeat. It's a good workout for all your hiking muscles, and my claim has always been that just when you are tired of going up, the trail starts down,  and vice versa. One of the best things about this trail is that there are several resting benches along the way.

It's typical foothill country, with granite outcroppings, trees and at this season, dry grass. To be more specific, much of it is blue oak savannah.

Ramblers, heading up the first hill The very  welcome first downhill section
Jackie and Dick enjoying a resting bench Blue oaks and granite outcroppings dot the dry hills

The trail is a loop that starts and ends at a parking lot a short distance from the park entrance. There is a day use fee, which is waived for holders of Federal recreation passes. The property is managed by the Army Corps of Engineers, who have never seen a place they did not think they could improve. Hence the planting of eucalyptus trees, when the native ones would do just fine. However, it is a great place to camp, with electrical hookups and water at many sites, and an RV dump station which is sometimes open. I've camped there a number of times with my trailer and motor home.

Dave, Jackie and I plodded along, resting often and eagerly occupying the benches. Wes went off trail to get just the right photo, and Bruce and Susan took a side trip down by the lake, rejoining us when we were approaching the last hill before trail's end.

--Dick Estel, December 2023

There are deep erosion ruts in many places on the trail Hensley Reservoir with low water level
Wes, searching for the perfect angle for his photo We enjoyed fascinating cloud shapes

And now a few words from Dave:

As I have done in the past, I have put together another album of some of the photos taken on these hikes. This link will take you to my Google Photos account where they can be viewed.

This hike was on the Po-ho-nichi Trail located at Hensley Lake. The day use fee was $10 but Wes found out that having a Golden Eagle Pass and placing it on your dashboard would suffice (according to a conversation he had with a worker). The hike was posted as being a mile, but with so many hills going up and then down, it felt much longer. This was one of the most difficult one-mile trails Iíve hiked lately (or it's just that Iím getting older), but the cool temperature did make it bearable. I strongly suggest avoiding this trail during the summer but suspect it would be enticing to visit during the spring. In any case, do not hike this trail without taking water with you.

As always, we all gathered afterwards for a relaxing picnic lunch before returning home.

You will see a lot of soil erosion of the trail due to the heavy rains in the past.

By the way, I can never take enough photos of clouds, trees and rocks when Iím doing these hikes.

I would like to return to this lake in the spring as the area should be carpeted with all types of flowers and new growth.

--Dave Smith

More Photos

A typical view east of the trail Wes, Bruce, Susan, Dick, Dave and Jackie
San Joaquin River West

This was another hike I missed due to illness. Although I've hiked on several trails in the San Joaquin River bottom just north of the metro area, I have never gone in this way. Access to the starting point is via the Children's Boulevard off ramp from Highway 41 just past the river bridge. You then cross the river on the old (pre-freeway) bridge and go under the roadway to get to the hiking area. All hikes in the river bottom are part of the San Joaquin River Conservancy

A quiet stretch of the San Joaquin River Susan, Ardyss and Bruce

The hikers were Ardyss, Bruce, Susan and Dave, who provided a short report, as well as a nice batch of photos.

On Wednesday, December 13, we had our group hike to the San Joaquin River bottom at Highway 41.

I had parked just before 10 a.m. when Ardyss pulled up and several minutes later Bruce and Susan arrived on foot, having decided to walk in from their nearby home. I didnít see the email yesterday that Dick would not be making the hike due to illness, but we figured we wouldnít get ourselves lost without him, at least this time. The walk was uneventful, giving us time for casual conversation and to get to know one another a bit more. Unlike the last hike at Hensley Lake, there were no hills to ascend which made me realize how out of shape I was. We avoided the trails next to the river as parts appeared to be somewhat washed out due to last yearís heavy rains. Fortunately, Wes had earlier noted that there was also a nearby dirt roadway/trail that we could take without any issues.

Upon our hike back to the cars, we came across a young lady with two unleashed but very well-trained dogs as you can see in the photo. Believe me, we kept our distance even though one of the dogs decided to follow me just for a brief moment as we continued our walk.

Overall, the hike lasted a little more than an hour. Thanks again to Ardyss, Susan and Bruce for taking time for this hike.

--Dave Smith, December 2023









Photos (Click to enlarge; pictures open in new window) 
Hensley Reservoir
Hensley Reservoir
Steep hills allow storm runoff to
create deep ruts in the trail
Ramblers hiking past a gnarly dead blue oak The lake and some of the amazing clouds we saw
Something new - Bruce on the rock Dave on the tral Wes claims he's retired from
rock climbing, but not 100%
Wes and Jackie resting in the rocks Wes sets up for a group photo There could be lions in that tall
grass, but Wes is undaunted
Another dramatic cloud photo The end of the trail, if you go clockwise Late afternoon sun on the lake
Related Links
Oak Savannah Dave's Hensley Photos Ramblers Hensley Hike in 2019
Hensley Reservoir Dave's River Bottom Photos San Joaquin River Conservancy
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
Camping Trips Backpacking Trips
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
Adventures of 2019 Part 2 Rambler Hikes 2019 Page 2
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
Adventures of 2021 Part 1 Adventures of 2021 Part 5
Adventures of 2021 Part 2
Adventures of 2021 Part 3 Rambler Hikes 2021 Page 1
Adventures of 2021 Part 4 Rambler Hikes 2021 Page 2
Adventures of 2022 Part 1 Rambler Hikes 2022 Page 1
Adventures of 2022 Part 2 Rambler Hikes 2022 Page 2
Adventures of 2022 Part 3 Rambler Hikes 2022 Page 3
Adventures of 2022 Part 4 Utah Parks
Adventures of 2023 Page 1 Rambler Hikes 2023 Page 1
Adventures of 2023 Page 2 Rambler Hikes 2023 Page 2
Dinosaur National Monument Rambler Hikes 2023 Page 3
Adventures of 2023 Page 3 Rambler Hikes 2023 Page 4
Adventures of 2024 Page 1 Rambler Hikes 2024 Page 1
Adventures of 2024 Page 2 Rambler Hikes 2024 Page 2
Mendocino Coast Rambler Hikes 2024 Page 3
Fresno Area Canal Walks Clovis Trail Walks
Butch's Blog Walker Family Trips
Parkfield Earthquake Kim & Morgan Brown Trips & Photos
Travel Report Menu Estel Home Page
Photo Albums Slide Shows
Laurie Lewis' High Sierra Hikes Email

Updated January 11, 2024