Over the past four years, the volunteers of the Lake Don Pedro Trailblazers have cleared and marked more than 40 miles of trails in the rolling hills between Lake Don Pedro and Lake McClure.
The trails are located on easements running among property parcels in the Lake Don Pedro subdivision. When the development was laid out in the late 1960s, these easements were established as part of the long-term plan for a community with extensive outdoor recreation opportunities. These easements would be an overgrown "no-man's land" today if the Trailblazers hadn't been working to turn them into a network of trails for horseback riding and hiking. Most of the volunteers are homeowners in the subdivision, but the public is invited to hike and ride the trails during daylight hours.
Two weekends ago I joined the Trailblazers for their annual Autumn Ride. Over the course of about 2 hours we looped around the hills and valleys surrounding the new parking area at Alfier Park. From the top of a high hill we had a grand view across the rolling landscape to the flat expanse of the San Joaquin Valley. It was an enjoyable ride with a friendly group of people. To top it off, the local 4H served a delicious hot dog and chili lunch when we returned to the parking area.
The Trailblazers also hold an annual Spring Ride to provide another opportunity for hikers and riders to become familiar with the trails. Many work days throughout the year go into clearing and marking these trails. With over 35 riders at this year's Autumn Ride, it was the largest group they've had so far. The Trailblazers hope that by inviting the general public to enjoy the trails, more people will join the effort to maintain and expand the trail network.
Currently most of the routes are marked with vertical white posts. These posts are placed so that the next one should always be visible from your current location, even when the grass is tall. Ultimately, as many as 120 miles of trails will be developed.
Alfier Park was dedicated earlier this year after a large parking area for trailers was graded and an informational kiosk and picnic tables were installed. The Trailblazers hope to eventually have a developed park and parking area in each of the other 4 units of the subdivision. Their goal for the next 12 months is to develop a park in the Granite Springs area on the north side of Highway 132. As work progresses you will be able to read about it here, though the most current information will always be available at http://www.ldptrailblazers.com/.
If you are a first-time visitor to the Lake Don Pedro Subdivision trails, be prepared for natural, ungroomed trails. The Trailblazers clear low branches and set the markers to help the hikers and riders, but the experience is more primitive than what you might expect in other recreation areas. If you hike, plan on wearing long pants and sturdy boots. Spring is one of the best times to visit -- the hills turn a vibrant green and a great variety of wildflowers can be enjoyed.
Currently, Alfier Park is the easiest starting point. You can pick a route by going to the Trailblazers website and printing out a map of the area you plan to visit. You can also contact Terrie Booten (email: email@example.com). Terrie is the organization's coordinator and she was the one who got me involved in the Autumn Ride and answered my many questions about the LDPT and its work. To reach Alfier Park, drive east on Highway 132 from the town of La Grange. Turn right on Hayward Road and then left on Ranchito Drive. After climbing a hill, turn left on Parasio and then right on Alamo.
More detailed maps are for sale at $5 for each unit. To date the Trailblazers have completed an up-to-date map of the trails in the entire subdivision and detailed maps for two of the five units of the subdivision. These maps can be purchased at the subdivision office located at J-59 and Bonds Flat Rd.
For an easy ride/hike, start at Alfier Park and cross Alamo to go north on the Alfier Loop. Follow the trail markers through the hills and cross Ranchito Drive when you reach it. The markers will eventually bring you back to the parking area.
Adam Blauert is an avid outdoorsman who enjoys fishing, backpacking and exploring the western states. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.