Spring has arrived and it’s the best time of year to get out and enjoy a local hike before the weather heats up. The following is my guide to the best hikes within a 90-minute drive.
You can also continue following the river to the site of Hite Cove – a 19th century gold mine and town located on a bend (cove) in the South Fork of the Merced River. If you go all the way, the total distance is 7 miles round-trip – a moderate day hike. If you just want to see the wildflowers, it’s an easy hike with a short elevation gain at the start and some steep drop-offs where you’ll want to take special care, especially if you have small children. For more information, call the Sierra National Forest at (559) 877-2218.
Pacheco State Park is also an ideal place to fly kites on windy days. The 28 miles of trails within Pacheco State Park are ideal for springtime horseback riding. For more information, go to www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=560 or call (209) 826-6283.
For me, the highlight was the optional steep hill climb to a summit where we could gaze westward over a beautiful and ancient sycamore grove in Menjoulet Canyon. Although the March hike dates have already filled up, spots are still available on several April weekends and also for school groups on weekdays. For more information or to reserve a spot, call (209) 826-1197.
One of the most popular trails leads to the top of Fresno County’s Table Mountain (yes, there are quite a few formations named “Table Mountain” in California.) This hike is a moderately-challenging round trip of about 5 miles, though the route is sometimes extended up to 10 miles to explore the basin between the lava wall and the San Joaquin River. Other SFC hikes and classes are designed for those who want to enjoy and learn about the outdoors in a less-strenuous way. For more information go to www.sierrafoothill.org or call (209) 742-5556.