Adam Blauert

Blauert on Outdoors: Bike across Merced, without ever entering a road

The 2½-mile stretch of bike path along Lake Road from Yosemite Avenue to Lake Yosemite/UC Merced has always been my favorite place to walk in Merced.

It used to be harder to walk or bike there, because it was only connected to the remainder of the city’s bike routes by a narrow bike lane on the shoulder of Yosemite Avenue, and there wasn’t a parking area nearby.

That changed about a year ago, when an addition to the path finally connected it to the main network. Even better, at the end of 2015, flashing pedestrian/bike crossing signals were added where the route crosses Yosemite Avenue and McKee Road.

This is a great time of year to get out and enjoy our bike paths. The grass is starting to turn green, plants are starting to leaf, and many trees are about to flower. Although the weather isn’t always great, there are enough sunny days when the air is crisp and refreshing, or even sometimes quite warm.

On those good-weather days, our bike paths provide a way to enjoy the season while getting some exercise. My favorite time of year to enjoy them lasts from the cool temperatures and brilliant leaf colors of fall through the green of spring.

Andrea and I finally explored the McKee-to-Yosemite bike path connection a couple of weeks ago. We walked from McKee to UC Merced, about 3 miles each way.

There are nice views the entire way and only one major road crossing, which is easier thanks to the recently installed signal.

For a map of the entire network of bike paths and designated bike lanes, do an Internet search for “city of Merced bike path map.” The map shows both bike paths – those separated from and following the edge of the roadway.

The map was created in 2008, so it still shows the McKee-to-Yosemite Avenue stretch as a proposed route, but it’s correct in showing that it connects to bike paths that stretch from McKee Road to Fahrens Park along Rascal Creek. From Fahrens Park, it branches north to Yosemite Avenue and the Merced Dog Park.

That’s right, you can cross the entire town from west to east on this route without ever having to ride on a road – perfect for families with children and enjoying a safe walk.

My other favorite local bike and walking route is the loop that circles Bear Creek between McKee and G streets.

Our bike paths are great places to walk, ride a bike and bring your dog during the cooler months. The best part is that it’s enjoyable outdoor recreation that doesn’t require driving out of town. Leashed dogs are allowed.

If you follow the bike path all the way to Lake Yosemite, you can avoid the park’s car entry fee. Leashed dogs are allowed at the lake.

I like continuing my walk along the top of the dam, which provides great views of the lake, the historic water tower, the Sierra Nevada and our town.

Adam Blauert: