The San Joaquin Fish Hatchery is always a fun place to take your kids, but things are even more alluring lately. It’s time to grab a chum and check out the new Small Fry Children’s Trail. It’ll have you hooked!
Once you arrive at the Friant Interactive Nature Site (FINS), head for the fish hatchery area first. My kids love to look into each and every tank of trout. This takes forever, but it’s a peaceful forever. For some reason, looking at an extreme quantity of fish keeps the kids very busy (and mostly out of trouble). The hatchery features a variety of trout and inland salmon. There’s also a machine that dispenses fish food. It’s always a highlight to treat the trout, so be sure to pack a few quarters.
The bathrooms are on the northwest side of the hatchery. I know, it’s a total mom thing to say, but it’s IMPORTANT. In addition, there was SOAP when I went, which is exciting if you’re like me and let your kids feed the fish before you realize you didn’t pack hand sanitizer.
Stepping out with Small Fry
Once the fish have been fed (and hands washed), take a walk on the brand new Small Fry Children’s Trail. Each section of the trail is labeled and designed to look like the environment a fish lives in at each stage of it’s development. As someone who gives little to no thought to fish, this was an eye-opener for me. Fish live in different places as they develop, they don’t just stay in the middle of lake! Alevin is not just a chipmunk, it’s a baby fish!
The first stop on the trail is Cobble Creek. It looks like the type of habitat where fish lay their eggs. My kids love the interactive aspect here because you can dig in the gravel in search of your own row of roe (it’s similar to the Dino Dig at the Chaffee Zoo, but with “fish eggs” instead of bones). My toddler LOVED flinging pebbles around. Maybe it would be good to have a “don’t fling pebbles around” talk before you get there. I don’t know, you parent how you want.
Not only is this little nature hike cool and educational, the plants along the path are all native and labeled. I’m a habitual plant killer, so I try to make a mental note of plants that actually WANT to live in the Central Valley, because I think maybe they’ll keep their will to live after I buy them. I didn’t know that California has a native type of fuchsia, but now it’s on my shopping list. This is a great spot to visit when you’re thinking of xeriscaping your front yard, and aren’t we all nowadays?
When you reach the end of the trail, you’ve reached the adult life phase, and “fishing” territory. Here, the interactive play area really blends in with the theme. The swing looks like a bobber, there’s a canoe and raft to play in, and spinning “cattails”. I visited with children from ages 2 to 9 and every single one of them had a blast. There’s plenty of picnic tables next to the play area, so it’s also a great place to have a sandwich break. Be sure to keep the litterbugs away and use the trash and recycling bins! Volunteer groups like the RiverTree Volunteers have helped make this trail a real FresYes treasure.
The trail continues along the San Joaquin River Parkway trail and connects at Lost Lake Recreation area. If you haven’t taken the plunge, be sure to try this new family friendly area. What’s your favorite feature along this new trail? Canoe? Beaver dam? Egg…dig? Let us know in the comments! Happy hiking!
Latest posts by JoAnn Hallum (see all)
- Four ways to celebrate the holidays with music - November 29, 2018
- ArtHop has a new logo for 2019! Meet the designer who created it - November 23, 2018
- Discover the music of the Youth Orchestras of Fresno - November 2, 2018