Walking in Cloverdale

Cloverdale Hill

We were virtually giddy that the sun was shining. Not only wasn’t it raining it wasn’t even gray for the first time in a month(?). The air was clear, only a few clouds to the west from leftover fog and to the north only white steam clouds from the Geysers.

We took the slow route along Old Redwood Hwy and frontage roads crisscrossing over and under Hwy 101 north through Windsor, Healdsburg, a spruced up Geyserville (since our last, long time ago drive-by) and Asti. The vineyards shone with mustard and white daisies. The mountains stood dark and massive.

Once we got to Cloverdale, we were so busy looking around town for what restaurants were open that we missed the first turn to get to the south entrance to Cloverdale River Park. We went to the north end of town and headed toward the river. (See directions below.)

Russian River at Cloverdale

We were dutifully squawked at by an osprey upon exiting the car at the McCray Rd. entrance. After studying the sign about the different environments here, we followed the paved path south from the parking lot.

Picnic at Cloverdale River Park

The Makano trail is a paved, mud free path with one short hill. It is a perfect winter trail and it’s 1.1 mi from the McCray lot to Crocker Rd. entrance, running along the Russian River.

One of the environments is riparian. The cottonwoods are bare branched at the moment, the bays are starting to bloom and we peeked through willows and Madrone to see the river, which is flowing at a good pace and has a pale café au lait color.

We walked through an oak woodland environment with a variety of oaks and an invasive species ground cover of periwinkle and ivy. The sign says restoration efforts are in the works.

The main problem here for walking pleasure is the noisy Hwy 101. The river rushing is not noisy enough to cover the traffic.

But the signage is informative about trees, birds and animals. The Oak Valley Creek sign is about animals (like river otters) and birds (like kingfisher). Unfortunately, none spotted. A metal bridge crosses a fairly clear creek.

Cloverdale River Park Trail Bridge

When the trail goes up a small hill (at about ¾ mi.) we saw a picnic and daisy area with view of the City of Cloverdale Water Treatment plant. There’s a table at other end of plant too. In between are three treatment ponds, a tank and building. Planted along a cyclone fence are Toyon and redwood.

Bridge over Russian River

At a cliff near the Crocker Rd end of trail, we spotted a sprouting buckeye. The path rises again to road and parking lot. From here you get a nice view of the river and the bridge.

On the way back, we spotted a heron standing near river edge. Then two ducks buzzed by headed upstream. We both went, “Wow, what were they?” And then we cursed our bird ignorance. We’re still working on descriptive knowledge of nature better than “duck” and “yellow flower.”

This is a fine well-used (many walkers, dog-walkers and casually family bike riders) but not trodden park. No picnickers today, though it was almost warm enough. Cloverdale can be scorching in the summer, but much of the trail is shaded, as are some of the picnic tables and then there’s the river.

Cloverdale Russian River

About that food, there are lots of burgers in town, Piacère too chichi for the day and the historic Owl. Not been there. Comments? We ate at the Star just to counter the nature theme of the walk.

We went south again avoiding Hwy 101 and stopped in Healdsburg to stroll around the square. By the time we were done with the strolling and shopping, we went to Windsor for coffee at Café Noto.

Walking in town squares, greens and such, leads me to what we’ll be talking about next week. Flat urban walking.

See you on the trail – or sidewalk.

Lynn Millar

Pictures by Mike Millar

2013 Update: At the north entrance a ramp is available for launching small boats. When we visited recently (Nov 2013) the river was low and the ramp ended several feet from the water.

Other Cloverdale events: The Citrus Fair is this weekend from February 12-15.

Getting in to Cloverdale River Park: You know the drill by now, on Sonoma County Regional Parks. Buy a park pass or pay $7 to park.

Main entrance: Take US 101 North to CA-128 West exit toward Ft Bragg/Mendocino. Turn right at N Redwood Hwy and in .2 mi make first right at McCray Rd. Park entrance .4 mi on left.

Other access: From N Cloverdale Blvd. take 1st St East, cross Hwy 101 to Crocker Rd. turn left into parking lot near cemetery. Walk towards bridge over Russian River and turn left down paved path to south entrance of the Cloverdale River Park.

Bridge at Cloverdale

Amenities: At main entrance are barbecues and picnic tables, some with wheelchair access. There’s a group area under a large oak tree. This is most handy in the summer, when this place is a hot. I think my brain got fried here the last time, because I had no memory of this park, until I got here and went, “Oh, this place, I remember it, now.”

Bathrooms: There are some bathrooms in the plans, but future bathrooms are no use at all. At this point, there’s a portapotty at each end of the park. Non-potable water only is at main entrance. (Non-potable, as in don’t drink it, just wash off you shoes – or dog.

Dogs: Dogs should be on a leash and pick up after them, as they’re no good at it.

Superbowl News and Movie Suggestion: Many of you probably watched the Superbowl last Sunday and like many predictors hoped New Orleans would win, but thought they couldn’t. Well they did. Imagine that. Now imagine New Orleans during and after Hurricane Katrina. How far has it come? Please see Trouble the Water. It’s part home movie done by a couple who couldn’t leave when the storm was coming and were like many people trapped in attics and on rooftops broiling in the sun after the storm. And it’s part documentary about what has happened or not happened since. To find out more go to the website http://www.troublethewaterfilm.com/


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