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Last week I wrote about Eaton Trail, a quick and easy way to get some exercise and enjoy views of the San Joaquin River. This week, let’s explore the Hidden Homes Trail located next to the San Joaquin River Parkway and Trust River Center. It’s a free, kid-friendly spot to visit. And as a bonus, it’s educational.
Animal Homes Big Enough to Walk Through
About ten minutes east of Highway 41 is the Hidden Homes Trail, an easy walk that’s sure to thrill kids of all ages. Along the trail, local artists have created replicas of local animal homes that are big enough to walk in and explore. Who doesn’t enjoy a giant owl house with frazzled owls painted inside? What about salmon eggs the size of golf balls?
As I walked along the trail with my children, they were inspired to turn into owls and various creatures, depending on the house we were visiting. With every step I took, children hooted alongside me and the grass rustled and shook with tiny lizards running for their lives (of course, there’s no need to frighten lizards more than necessary, so trail etiquette demands that one stays on the path).
Although I took my children to this trail with the intention of teaching them something, I personally walked away knowing more about the San Joaquin River’s ecosystem. There were even homes on the trail of animals I had never heard of, such as the caddisfly. Strangely, a caddisfly starts its life as a worm-like larva but ends up a moth-like adult. I had never heard of a caddisfly and even now I don’t understand it, but it sounds exciting. Nature is cool.
Spotting Real life Animals
Not only can you enjoy giant replicas of animal homes, you have great odds of seeing real animals in their actual homes along the trail. If you have loud kids with you, your best bet is spotting these animals through the group of spyglasses at the head of the trail. When I visited, they were aimed straight at turtles sunning themselves in the middle of an island. The old saying rings true, “If you want to have a great day, look at a turtle.”
Happily for me, by the end of the trail, everyone had grown tired of screeching like eagles, and the silence was rewarded by a real rabbit sighting.
If you want to enjoy a nice, easy, animal-infested walk, head over to the Hidden Homes Trail. Pack a snack and enjoy the picnic tables at the River Center when you’re done. There are also bathrooms and lots of informative signs (how do you think I figured out what a caddisfly was?).
Have you checked this trail out yet? The river is full of fabulous wildlife and this is a great way to introduce yourself to it.
The Hidden Homes trail is located at 11605 Old Friant Road, Fresno CA 93730
8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday- Friday
10 a.m.- 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
The trail is free but donations are welcome.