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Go figure. The girl who hates camping, windy mountain roads, prefers restrooms to trees always and is afraid of bears and snakes has caught the hiking bug. Yup, I’m totally hooked on hiking and now I’m pretty much dragging everyone who I can convince to come with me along for the journey!
Over the next several weeks, while the local weather is at its best, I plan to visit multiple hiking trails that are within a short drive from Fresno and share with you my favorite trails so you can decide which you might like to explore as well. Keep in mind, I’m a complete rookie hiker – so if you like that perspective and thinking, “Hey, if she can do it, I’m sure we could” then you’ll probably enjoy these posts.
I should mention first, that the All Trails app (click here for iPhone, here for Android) has proven to be extremely helpful in researching trails in our area. The app will help you search for trails near you then sort them by length, difficulty, accessibility and more. The app can also provide you with driving directions, reviews from other hikers who’ve previously visited the trail, user submitted photos and even trails for other uses (mountain biking, off-roading, snowshoeing, etc.) I have found that the app is a bit more user-friendly than the web version of All Trails, which can tend to lag a bit.
Ok, so now onto our experience with Lewis Creek Trail…
Lewis Creek Trail is a little over 3 miles, and an “in and out” (meaning it does not make a loop, you hike the trail to the end, then turn around and hike back to where you started) that is very easy to find, located just above the Bass Lake turnoff, with parking right on the shoulder of 41. If you take 41 North from Fresno toward Bass Lake for about 50 minutes, the Lewis Creek Trailhead parking area will be easy to spot. This is an easy drive for those who tend toward carsickness, too. This trail is fairly popular, so expect to get a little creative if necessary if the parking area is full. Consider double parking cars within your own party to save space for others.
Once you head to the trail, you’ll see signs warning you about mountain lions and what to do if you encounter one. (Personal tip: Pretty sure if you bring with you a really excited group of children ages 3-8 you won’t see any! Ha!) As you begin your hike, you’ll wind downhill a bit toward the creek beneath the shade off mature evergreen trees. It was about ten degrees cooler when we hiked, than it was in Fresno, but certainly far from being cold even with the shade, so be sure to check the weather before you go to ensure you don’t end up lugging around a lot of extra clothing for no reason. I would say that a good 1/2 of the trail heading in is downhill, so though this is a relatively easy hike (children as young as 5 had no problems with this hike) those with previous knee injuries may not find it to be their favorite, so keep that in mind.
Here are some photos that will show you some of the highlights of Lewis Creek Trail:
Though our drought has slowed the falls to a trickle, it was still lovely.
The creek makes for good exploring
And also offers sunning for hoards of beautiful butterflies!
The end of the trail is a bit anti-climatic (obviously we were spoiled by our first hike, which ended with an awesome bridge over the San Joaquin River), as there wasn’t really much to see other than where the trail met a road and a sign stating we were in fact on the Lewis Creek Trail. However, we had a seat and enjoyed our picnic lunches and that gave us a nice recharge before we began our hike back.
Remember when I said it felt like 1/2 of the hike in was downhill? Well, if you’re following me, you’ve just figured out that I’m about to tell you that means half of the hike back up is uphill. Great cardio workout I tell ya! At the end, I really felt like I’d burned enough calories to indulge a little bit, which is good, because we all ended up capping off our great day hike with a stop at Robert’s Frosty Stand in Coarsegold. If you’re looking for old-fashioned sundaes, shakes, soft-serve, and dipped cones – you’ll want to make the same stop. Robert’s was super yummy and a great casual place to relax, eat and plan our next hike with our tired but happy friends.
I would definitely recommend Lewis Creek Trail to others for a great day hike experience. Though slightly more difficult than the San Joaquin River Gorge Bridge Trail, this trail is definitely family friendly and I’d say children ages 5 and over should do just fine. If you go, be sure to leave me a comment, I’d love to hear about your experience!