This article is brought to you by our monthly FresYes Writing Contest – we’re grateful for our very first accepted blogger, Heather Garrison!
Reminder, if you have a wonderful story of your own, you can submit it right here. The top three posts at the end of the month win a cash prize – so, what are you waiting for?!
Now, let’s hear all about Sycamore Island!
The long rain-soaked winter is finally over, and 100-degree weather is just around the corner. Spring has arrived in the valley and with it comes perfect warm days and all things blooming. Every year during our all-too-brief spring, my kids are eager to get outside and explore nature. Recently our family was looking for a day trip outdoors. With not enough time to head to the mountains or the beach, we discovered the hidden nature area of Sycamore Island.
Just a short drive from Fresno, Sycamore Island Ranch offers a welcome respite without the long hours of travel. The 600-acre nature area along the San Joaquin River gives families a chance to unplug and spend a day discovering natural surroundings that are found surprisingly close to home.
Once you arrive at Sycamore Island, you will see the first of 7 ponds that are connected by dirt roads which makes them easily accessible. Each pond has beach areas for the kids to play in the water and dig in the dirt. We found a perfect spot with a pond on one side and the San Joaquin River on the other. The kids spent a couple of hours splashing in the water and searching for bugs and rocks.
Part of our day was also spent hiking. We walked along the roads and found several paths down to the edge of the water. There are several miles of dirt roads and hiking trails perfect for walking, running, bicycling, and horseback riding. If your kids love wildlife, you can find it here. We saw egrets, herons, ducks, and hawks during our time by the water. As we were leaving, we spied a couple of deer in a nearby field.
If fishing is something your family enjoys, Sycamore Island offers the chance to test out your inner angler. Trout, bass, catfish, crappie, and bluegill fish are all there for the taking. For our next visit, we are planning to bring our fishing gear and see what we can catch. If you’d rather be out on the water, there are also three access points to the San Joaquín River for canoeing and kayaking.
Your day trip to Sycamore Island would not be complete without a picnic. Bring your favorite foods and enjoy a peaceful outdoor lunch at one of the 3 covered picnic shelters, any of the picnic tables scattered throughout the area, or under one of the huge sycamore or oak trees. We brought an ice chest full of drinks and food and had a quiet lunch camped out under a shady grove of trees. If you’d rather grab a quick snack and drink, the bait shop has selections to choose from along with maps of the area and restrooms nearby.
Sycamore Island is open Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays now through November. Located near Valley Children’s Hospital at 39664 Avenue 7½, Madera, it’s easily accessed from Freeway 41. A $9 per car fee allows access for the day or you can purchase a season pass for $85. More information can be found at www.riverparkway.org.
We had a relaxing and fun day visiting Sycamore Island and are planning to return soon. If you and your family are looking to find a hidden gem close to Fresno, then the tranquil nature area of Sycamore Island awaits you.
Thank you again, Heather!