Top 5 Things to do in the Spring in and Around Merced County

 Photo By Adam Blauert

Photo By Adam Blauert

Springtime

According to the system by which seasons are calculated, spring doesn’t officially begin until March 20th this year.  Signs of the new season, however, start with the first blossoms on flowering trees in town and in the county’s orchards.

The almond trees are the first major orchard tree to bloom, usually starting by mid-February and peaking towards the end of the month.  Their bloom was early this year and is already over, but the peach bloom is currently in its prime.

1. Blossom tours

Blossom tours are a great way to enjoy the outdoors at the time when winter is fading into spring.  Looking for something relaxing to do in the outdoors?

Photo By Adam Blauert
Photo By Adam Blauert

Take a drive on the rural roads of our county and enjoy the blossom display.  For the driving directions and a map to the county’s driving (or biking) tour of peach blossoms, use the following links provided by the UC Extension program:

Description:  http://cemerced.ucanr.edu/files/40627.pdf

Map:  http://cemerced.ucanr.edu/files/40628.pdf

Peach blossoms are a vibrant pink and they photograph nicely, especially in the warm light that often comes as sunlight breaks through clouds.  For an enjoyable drive, pack water, jackets, snacks, cameras, and sunglasses.

Photo By Adam Blauert
Photo By Adam Blauert

Remember that orchards are private property and you should stay along the road unless the property owner invites you onto his/her property.  You can enjoy the blossoms and get great photos without venturing from the side of the road.  You can find a lot of additional information about blossom tours by clicking here. This is something to do the first week of March before the blossoms fall.  Not all orchards bloom at exactly the same time, so some will already be losing their blossoms when you go, but you are guaranteed to find some that still have vibrant displays through the second week of March.

2. Bike Ride

Enjoying a bike ride on a local bike path is another one of the joys of spring.  The temperature is nice, the skies are usually blue, and plants and trees are coming back to life.  It’s a beautiful and comfortable time to be outdoors.  Explore the town on one of the city’s bike paths.  My favorites are the Bear Creek loop between McKee Road and G Street and the path that follows Lake Road between Yosemite Avenue and Lake Yosemite.

Photo By Adam Blauert
Photo By Adam Blauert

More experienced bikers can enjoy riding rural roads throughout the county, but the bike paths provide a safe environment for riding with family members, especially small children.

For a downloadable map of bike paths in Merced:

City of Merced city bikeway map  (click here)

Merced bike paths on Google Maps (click here)

For more information about bike routes throughout the county, click here .

3. Wildflower driving tours

After the orchard blossoms fall to the ground, wildflower season kicks into gear in our local foothills.  You can enjoy them easily on a short driving trip to Mariposa County.  Although late March through early May is usually the best time for wildflowers, this year they have arrived early.

Photo By Adam Blauert
Photo By Adam Blauert

I recommend heading up to Mariposa County on Highway 140 and then exploring some of the back roads such as:

  • Old Highway (the original Highway 140 between Catheys Valley and the Mariposa Fairgrounds)
  • Yaqui Gulch Road
  • Ben Hur Road
  • Indian Gulch Road
  • Bear Valley Road
  • Old Toll Road
  • Pendola Garden Road
  • Mt. Gaines Road
  • Hunters Valley Road
  • Briceburg Road

Twelve miles east of downtown Mariposa, the Briceburg road is a left-hand turn from Highway 140.  It is often one of the best places to see California poppies.  The Merced River Canyon between Briceburg and the entrance to Yosemite can also have very nice displays.

All you need is a full tank of gas, a map of Mariposa County, water, jackets, snacks, cameras, and sunglasses.

You can pack a picnic lunch or try one of the many restaurants in Mariposa.  You can see great wildflower displays from the side of the road without trespassing, so please make sure that you obey all posted signs and avoid venturing onto private land.

4. Local hikes

You can enjoy more wildflowers and more views on foot.  Here are five favorite places to hike in the spring:

Hite Cove:  Probably the most popular wildflower hike in our area, this trail starts 20 miles east of Mariposa on the east side of Highway 140.

Photo By Adam Blauert
Photo By Adam Blauert

After the highway crosses the South Fork of the Merced River, look for a parking area on the west side of the roadway.  The trail starts by climbing a paved roadway and then becomes a narrow dirt path with a steep drop-off down to the river.  Some of the best wildflowers are usually found along the first half mile, so you don’t have to hike far.  If you’re up for a longer hike, however, you can follow it for 3 ½ miles to Hite Cove, a bend in the river where a mining community thrived in the 1860s.  A few rock walls and pieces of rusted iron machinery remain.

Table Mountain (Tuolumne County):  Located near Jamestown, this hike involves a steep climb to the top of the iconic table that follows Highway 108 and the course of an ancient channel of the Stanislaus River.  The trail climbs through oaks to the flat tabletop for excellent views of the surrounding hills and valleys.  Wildflowers shows on top of the table can be excellent, especially in wet years.  The round-trip hike is about 3 miles with 400 feet of elevation gain.

For more information and maps, call the Bureau of Reclamation at (209) 536-9094 or go to http://www.usbr.gov/mp/ccao/newmelones/.  There is no fee to park or use this area.

Pacheco State Park:  Although most of the best wildflower hikes are located in the Sierra foothills, the Coast Range also often has some great displays.

Photo By Adam Blauert
Photo By Adam Blauert

Pacheco State Park, located on the south side of Highway 152 about 15 1/2 miles west of I-5, has nearly 30 miles of hiking trails where wildflowers may be enjoyed.  For more about Pacheco State Park click here.

For more information go to http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=560

or call (209) 826-1197

The day use fee is $10/vehicle.

Path of the Padres:  Also on the west side of the Central Valley, the Path of the Padres is another of the top local wildflower destinations.  This trail starts at Los Banos Creek Reservoir and is only accessible on guided hikes, offered regularly in February, March, and April of each year. 

For reservations, call (209) 826-1197.

The docents who lead these hikes know a lot about the area’s human and natural history and participating in a hike is a great way to learn.  There is a $12/person fee for the guided hike, which lasts most of the day and totals about 5 ½ miles round trip after crossing the reservoir on a pontoon boat.

There is a per person fee for the guided hike, which lasts most of the day and totals about 5 ½ miles round trip after crossing the reservoir on a pontoon boat.  For more info click here.

Knights Ferry:  In the sleepy hamlet of Knights Ferry, pedestrians can still cross the Stanislaus River on a historic covered bridge.  The stone and brick walls of buildings from the 1850s and 1860s line the river and an easy pathway along the river provides beautiful views of the town and the canyon.  The path is only a 3 mile round trip walk, but it packs in a lot of beautiful scenes.

The trail starts on the north side of town at the end of the main road along the river near the stone and brick shell of the old Tulloch Mill.

For more information, call the Knights Ferry Information Center at 209-881-3517.  There is no charge for parking or access to the river, trail, and historic buildings.

There is no charge for parking or access to the river, trail, and historic buildings.

Photo by Adam Blauert
Photo by Adam Blauert

Some of the best foothill hikes are guided outings and classes organized by the Sierra Foothill Conservancy.  During the spring months, they offer hikes and classes for all ages and abilities on the preserves and conservation easements that they manage in Mariposa, Madera, and Fresno Counties.

The Mariposa County easements are less than an hour’s drive from Merced.

For more information and a calendar of events:

http://www.sierrafoothill.org/

or call (209) 742-5556.

5. Local camping

Another way to take advantage of the nice weather is to go on a camping trip.  There are lots of places to camp locally and they are most enjoyable in the spring and fall.

Photo By Adam Blauert
Photo By Adam Blauert

You can get from home to your campsite in less than an hour if you book a site at one of the following parks:

Lakes McClure and McSwain:  http://www.lakemcclure.com/  / (855) 800-2267

Lake Don Pedro:  http://www.donpedrolake.com/

New Melones:  http://www.recreation.gov/  / (877) 444-6777

McConnell State Recreation Area:  http://www.reserveramerica.com

Hensley Lake:  http://www.recreation.gov/  / (877) 444-6777

Eastman Lake:  http://www.recreation.gov/  / (877) 444-6777

San Luis Reservoir:  http://www.reserveramerica.com

Photo By Adam Blauert
Photo By Adam Blauert

All of these are located between the floor of the valley and the 1,500 foot elevation level, so weather is similar to Merced. 

Beware of rattlesnakes (possible at all except McConnell).  Some allow dogs, and fires may be allowed depending on the location and the dryness of the landscape.

Always check current conditions in advance.  McClure, Don Pedro, and New Melones are my personal favorites for lakeside camping (Eastman and Hensley currently have extremely low water levels due to the drought).

Photo By Adam Blauert
Photo By Adam Blauert

McConnell is the best place to camp along the lower part of the Merced River.

 

Merced's Central Park: Applegate Park, Zoo & Kiddieland Merced

flag in park
flag in park

Applegate Park is Merced’s central park

Located along the Bear Creek Bikeway, the park is an excellent destination on bike or foot.  It offers 32 acres of recreation with a zoo, outdoor theater, picnic tables, bbq grills, volleyball nets, tennis/basketball courts, a skate park, rental facilities, a large playground, a rose garden and fountain, and the Kiwanas-sponsored Kiddieland amusement park.

train
train

Plenty of parking is located around the park.  Many community events are held at Applegate, including concerts and plays in the summer.

fountain
fountain

Location

Applegate Park is located along Bear Creek and the Bear Creek bikeway, between M and R Streets.  The southern edge of the park follows 25th Street, P Street, and 26th Street. 

Parking is available along the southern edge, N Street, and a parking lot on R Street near the Zoo.

applegate
applegate

Applegate Park Zoo

Kiwanis Kiddieland

Merced Open Air Theater

Sports Facilities (Tennis, Basketball, Volleyball)

Skatepark

Bear Creek Bikeway

Playground

Fitness Equipment

Rental Facilities

playground
playground
zoo 1
zoo 1

Applegate Park Zoo

The zoo specializes in local wildlife and activities for children, showcasing species native to the Central Valley and the foothills.  From commonly-seen birds such as egrets and hawks to the elusive mountain lion, the zoo offers a cross-section of native wildlife. 

Most of the animals have been relocated from wildlife rescue agencies.  

Although owned by the City of Merced, the zoo is operated by the nonprofit Merced Zoological Society.

zoo 2
zoo 2

Friendly, trained volunteers are available to answer questions.  This is a great place to get a close-up view of local species before heading out to a nearby wildlife refuge.

zoo 3
zoo 3

Hours and Admission

The zoo is open from 10-5 daily in the spring and summer and from 10-4 in the fall and winter, weather permitting.  The zoo is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. 

For the latest Zoo hours and cost for admission, click here

Location

The zoo is located on R Street between Bear Creek and 25th Street.  A parking lot is located on the corner of R and 25th.

goats
goats

Activities

Petting Zoo and Goat Feeding: Friendly (and hungry) goats can be fed with goat food for sale at the zoo’s gift shop until the day’s supply runs out.  Visitors who wish to feed the goats are advised to visit before 2PM. 

The zoo also offers a small petting area where kids can play with chickens, rabbits, ducks, kittens, turtles and guinea pigs.  

Field Trips: The Merced Zoological Society can arrange guided visits to the zoo for school groups.

Zoo Camp and Special Events: The zoo holds two one-week zoo camps for children aged 6 to 9 and a “Trick or Treat in the Zoo” on Halloween.

bobcats
bobcats

Sometimes it is the "small animals" that are fun for the little ones!

This is a safe and fun option for families with small children.  A storytime for kids aged 3-5 is offered every Saturday from 11-12.  A number of other special events happen throughout the year.

savana
savana

Birthday Parties

The zoo can be rented for birthday parties.  Facilities include the Rossotti Ed-Zoo-Cation Center building with tables, chairs, refrigerator, freezer, and silverware.  Table coverings, napkins, plates, cups, and invitations in an animal theme design are provided.

racoon
racoon

Zoo Parent Adoption Program

Groups can participate in the Zoo Parent Adoption Program which allows them to help feed and care for the zoo’s animals.

Gift Shop

The Zoological Society operates a gift shop that specializes in educational toys, books, and gifts.  All proceeds help support the zoo’s operations.

buck
buck

Species

Mammals: black bear, mule deer, bobcat, raccoon, red fox, silver fox, opossum, goat, capuchin monkey

fox
fox
screach owl
screach owl

Birds: albino scrub jay, black crowned night heron, black swan, burrowing owl, cattle egret, emu, great egret, great snowy egret, green heron, great horned owl, harrier hawk,

owl
owl
deer
deer

ibis, kestrel, killdeer, magpie, northern flicker, peacock, raven, red tailed hawk, snowy egret, screech owl, Swainsons hawk, wild turkey, whistling (tundra) swan, wimberl, white faced ibis

Reptiles: tortoise, turtle

City of Merced- Applegate  Zoo  info (click here)

or contact the Merced Zoological Society at Mercedzoological@sbcglobal.net /

(209) 725-DEER   (725-3337)

Kiddieland: Merced Kiwanis

Oporates the local Kiddieland amusement park since 1957.  With six rides including a train that loops around Applegate Park, Kiddieland is a great place to take children on weekend afternoons. 

Friendly Kiwanis volunteers operate the rides on Saturdays and Sundays from 1-5PM starting in March of each year.

Kiddieland 1
Kiddieland 1

The amusement park remains open through October. Snacks are available at a refreshment booth.  Kiddieland can be also be rented for private parties.

For more information about Kiddieland, click here

Location: Near the intersection of 25th and Q Streets.

Kiddieland 2
Kiddieland 2

Additional information: Check out the Kiwanis webpage at http://greatermercedkiwanis.org/kiddieland Kiwanis is a worldwide volunteer organization whose motto is “serving the children of the world.”

Merced Open Air Theater

The most popular outdoor entertainment venue in Merced County, the Open Air Theater is the site of free concerts and plays throughout the summer.  The theater can be rented for private events.  Visit the City of Merced’s webpage for rental information: City of Merced Rental information.

Open Air Theater
Open Air Theater

Merced Shakespearefest stages Shakespeare plays at the Open Air Theater every summer.  For more information go to: http://www.mercedshakespearefest.org/index.htm

Location: The theater is located in the middle of the park along the bikeway.

Sports Facilities

Volleyball nets are located in the eastern half of the park, between M and O Streets.

Tennis and basketball courts are located in the center of the park, near Kiddieland.

Skatepark: The skatepark is located in the center of the park, near O and 26th Streets.

Skatepark
Skatepark

Bikeway: Applegate Park is located along the Bear Creek Bikeway, which runs from McKee Road to Highway 59. 

This route connects with other bikeways and bike lanes in Merced. 

For a map, go to http://www.cityofmerced.org/documents/bikepathmap.pdf

Also check out our page titled Bike Paths in Merced County for additional bike routes throughout the county.

Playground: A large playground is located in the center of the park along 25th street between Q and P Streets.  The playground includes swings, a large climbing structure with slides, and benches.

Rental Facilities: The Rossotti Ed-Zoo-Cation Center, Merced Open Air Theater, Scout Hut, Picnic Shelters, Gazebo and Rose Garden can all be rented for group events.    

Visit the City of Merced’s webpage for rental costs and forms: City of Merced Rental information.


Top 5 Local Things to do in Winter in and Around Merced County

Merced County Events-  Top 5 local

Christmas is over and it’s still cold in the Central Valley.  Once the holiday events have passed, the coldest months of the year often seem like a dead time for events and activities unless you’re going to mountains to ski or play in the snow.  Despite that impression, there are actually a lot of great things to enjoy during this time of year within an hour’s drive or less.

1.  Ice skating

For the second year in a row, Fields of Ice in Turlock has brought ice skating to our part of the Central Valley.  Located at 716 N. Daubenberger Road, this open air rink can be enjoyed during the day or under the stars as long as it isn’t raining.  The rink will be open this season through January 19th.  Ice skate rentals are included in the admission price and just about anyone can figure out how to propel themselves on the ice with a little practice – especially if you ever had any experience riding a pair of inline skates (rollerblades).  It’s an especially fun activity with a group of family members or friends.

2.  Performing Arts

Photo by Adam Blauert
Photo by Adam Blauert

Winter is a great time to enjoy live music or theater.  In addition to performing arts within our own county, the Modesto, Turlock, Fresno, and Sonora areas offer a huge range of live entertainment.

Photo by Adam Blauert
Photo by Adam Blauert

For a list of performing arts venues and organizations within an hour’s drive, click here. 

3.  Wildlife refuges

Photo by Adam Blauert
Photo by Adam Blauert

Before large numbers of humans settled in the Central Valley, much of the valley’s floor was a great wetland in the winter months – a permanent home for many species and a winter home for many more.  Large areas that are currently managed as wildlife refuges continue to provide both year-round and seasonal wetland habitat.

Photo by Adam Blauert
Photo by Adam Blauert

While the refuges are interesting throughout the year, they are especially enjoyable in the winter months when millions of migratory birds arrive. “Birdwatching… really??!??”  I know that’s what some readers are thinking at this point.  Visiting a wildlife refuge in the winter can actually be an unforgettable experience.  If you’ve done it yourself, you know what I’m talking about.

Don’t imagine this as sitting around for hours waiting for a single tiny starling or sparrow to show up.

As you stand on a viewing platform in the crisp evening air and watch great flocks of ducks and geese silhouetted against an orange-red sunset sky, it seems like you’ve stepped into another world – even though you’re only a few miles from civilization.

Photo by Adam Blauert
Photo by Adam Blauert

Evening is usually the best time to visit. As the day ends, multitudes of ducks and geese return from feeding.  The refuges offer auto tour routes, short hiking trails, and viewing platforms to enjoy the avian show.

The San Luis National Wildlife Refuge in Los Banos is also home to a large herd of magnificent tule elk.  Although they aren’t always close to the fence of their large enclosure, I’ve been able to spot them every time I’ve visited and sometimes they’ve been very close to the viewing platform.

Photo by Adam Blauert
Photo by Adam Blauert

No matter when you go, wear warm clothes and bring a camera and/or binoculars. The closest refuge is the Merced National Wildlife Refuge, seven and a half miles west of Highway 59 on Sandy Mush Road.  It offers a five mile auto tour route, three short trails, and viewing platforms. About seven miles north of Los Banos on Wolfsen Road, the San Luis NWR offers two auto tour routes, several short trails, viewing platforms, and a beautiful new visitor center with exhibits about local wildlife.

Photo By Adam Blauert
Photo By Adam Blauert

If you arrive before evening, you can see both elk and birds in one day and also check out the visitor center (open 8AM to 4:30PM every day except federal holidays). The refuges are open daily from one half hour before sunrise to one half hour after sunset.

Admission to both refuges is completely free.

4.  Museums

Museums are great places avoid the cold in the winter and to cool off in the summer.  Merced County has a wealth of local museums, and so do the surrounding counties.

Photo by Adam Blauert
Photo by Adam Blauert

The Merced County Historical Society’s exhibits in the beautifully restored 139 year-old courthouse at 21st and N Streets is a great place to start if you’ve never seen it before or if you haven’t been there in a long time.

A new exhibit debuts every few months.  For complete information about current events click here.

The other rooms contain exhibits of the county’s history from the Yokuts people to the present time.

Other museums within the county and an hour’s drive include:

Merced:  Multicultural Arts Center

Los Banos:  Milliken Museum

Atwater:  Bloss House Museum

Castle Air Museum

Livingston:  Livingston Historical Museum

Dos Palos:  Dos Palos Museum

Gustine:  Gustine Museum

Chowchilla-Fairmead:  Fossil Discovery Center of Madera County

Madera:  Madera County Museum

Modesto:  McHenry Mansion

McHenry Museum

The Great Valley Museum

Turlock:  Carnegie Arts Center and Turlock Historical Society Museum

Oakdale:  Oakdale Cowboy Museum

Fresno-Clovis:  Kearny Mansion, Meux Home Museum, the Clovis-Big Dry Creek Museum, the Fresno Art Museum, and the Discovery Center

Mariposa:  California State Mining and Mineral Museum and the Mariposa Museum and History Center

Oakhurst:  Fresno Flats Historical Museum and Park

Raymond:  Raymond Museum

Sonora:  Tuolumne County Museum

La Grange:  La Grange Museum

It’s quite an impressive list.  If you’re wondering where to start, here are five of my favorites:

Castle Air Museum – huge collection of military aircraft, WWII to present

California State Mining and Mineral Museum – mining history and lots of stunning mineral specimens

McHenry Mansion – beautifully restored 1882 Victorian mansion, one of the best preserved in the entire Central Valley

Fresno Flats Historical Museum and Park – extensive collection of restored pioneer buildings and artifacts, lots of space to explore and picnic

Fossil Discovery Center of Madera County – amazing fossils of massive creatures that lived here in the past

Because museums often reduce their hours during the colder months, call to verify before you visit.  Admission to many museums is free of charge, while others require a small per-person fee.

5.  Blossom Tours

Photo By Adam Blauert
Photo By Adam Blauert

As winter draws to a close, local orchards put on one of the most impressive displays of blossoms that can be seen anywhere.  Usually beginning in the second half of February, these blossoms can usually be enjoyed by driving (or riding your bike) on rural roads in Merced County.  For more info about blossom tours, click here.

Photo By Adam Blauert
Photo By Adam Blauert

The University of California’s Cooperative Extension program has compiled several excellent tour routes for different parts of the county.  The maps are available for free on their website:  http://cemerced.ucanr.edu/Blossom_Tours_262/. 

 


Great Bike Paths in Merced County

riding bike
 Bike Paths - photo by adam blauert

Bike Paths - photo by adam blauert

Bike Path in Merced

Merced County communities have an extended network of bike paths and bike lanes with many more planned for future construction.  This network is made up of three distinct classes of pathways, lanes, and routes.

 Bear Creek Bikeway  -  PHOTO BY ADAM BLAUERT

Bear Creek Bikeway  - PHOTO BY ADAM BLAUERT

Class 1:  Separate pathway for bikes, pedestrians, skateboards, and other non-motorized uses.

Class 2:  A separate bike lane along the edge of a road; indicated by a striped line.

 Class 3:  A designated route without painted lines to indicate a separate bike lane.

 Bike Paths  -  PHOTO BY ADAM BLAUERT

Bike Paths  - PHOTO BY ADAM BLAUERT

There are many miles of bike paths in Merced

City of Merced city bikeway map  (click here)

Merced bike paths on Google Maps (click here)

Great links for local information about bicycling in Merced County.

 Bear Creek Bikeway -  PHOTO BY ADAM BLAUERT

Bear Creek Bikeway - PHOTO BY ADAM BLAUERT

Additional Information

For additional information on biking, bike maintenance, bike events, and riding in Merced County, check out the website:  

Merced Bicycle Coaliton : http://www.mercedbicyclecoalition.org/

Trans_Logo_Large_600
Trans_Logo_Large_600
boy on merced city bike trails
boy on merced city bike trails

Bike Licensing

Bikes owned by residents of the incorporated areas of Merced County (Atwater, Dos Palos, Gustine, Livingston, Los Banos, Merced) must be licensed. 

A 3-year license costs $5 and is available from the police station in your city.  The information typically required in the license form includes band, model, serial number, wheel size, and frame size. 

The City of Merced provides its license information here.  CLICK HERE

 

To obtain a license, visit your local police station

  • City of Atwater Police Department - 750 Bellevue, Atwater / (209) 357-6385
  • City of Dos Palos Police Department - 1546 Golden Gate Ave, Dos Palos / (209) 392-2177
  • City of Gustine Police Department  - 682 3rd Ave, Gustine / (209) 854-3737
  • City of Livingston Police Department - 1446 C Street, Livingston / (209) 394-7916
  • City of Los Banos Police Department - 945 5th Street, Los Banos / (209) 827-7070
  • City of Merced Police Department - 611 West 22nd Street, Merced / (209) 385-6912

Bikes on the Bus:  Bike racks are provided on Merced County Transit Busses (The Bus).


Visit the Parks of Merced City

 Photo by adam blauert

Photo by adam blauert

Merced City Parks

The City of Merced maintains a wide range of neighborhood, regional, and community parks within the city limits.  Many of these parks are located along Merced City Bikeways. 

Information on bike routes is included in the descriptions below.  

 Applegate -photo by adam blauert

Applegate -photo by adam blauert

The city’s largest parks include

  • Applegate Park
  • Fahrens Park
  • Joe Herb Park
  • McNamara Park
  • Merced Dog Park
  • Rahilly Park
  • Youth Sports Complex

Neighborhood Parks

...are located within a half mile walk of nearly every home in Merced.  To find a park in your neighborhood, click on this link to view a map on the City of Merced’s website:http://www.cityofmerced.org/civica/filebank/blobdload.asp?BlobID=7595

This map also shows parks that the City plans to build in coming years.

 Kiddieland -  PHOTO BY ADAM BLAUERT

Kiddieland - PHOTO BY ADAM BLAUERT

Applegate Park

Applegate Park is Merced’s central park.  Located along the Bear Creek Bikeway, the park is an excellent destination on bike or foot.

It offers 32 acres of recreation with a zoo, outdoor theater, picnic tables, bbq grills, volleyball nets, tennis/basketball courts, a skate park, rental facilities, a large playground, a rose garden, fountain, and the Kiwanas-sponsored Kiddieland amusement park.

Plenty of parking is located around the park. 

Many community events are held at Applegate, including concerts and plays in the summer.

 

 Fahrens Park -  PHOTO BY ADAM BLAUERT

Fahrens Park - PHOTO BY ADAM BLAUERT

Fahrens  Park

Stretched out along both Faherns and Black Rascal Creeks, this park boasts a brand new disc golf course and plenty of shade.

 Fahrens Park -  PHOTO BY ADAM BLAUERT

Fahrens Park - PHOTO BY ADAM BLAUERT

Fahrens Park features a frisbee course

Location:  Along Buena Vista Drive between R Street and Highway 59.

Size:  48 acres

Facilities:

 bike rider

bike rider

 For information about the bike trails of Merced, click here.

Joe Herb Park

Adjacent to Golden Valley High School, this park provides a large area for recreation in southeast Merced.  City league softball games are often held on the lighted softball fields.

Location:  2200 Yosemite Parkway, Merced

Size:  27 acres

Facilities:

  • Restrooms and drinking fountains
  • Picnic tables and shelters, BBQ grills
  • Playground
  • Concessions stand
  • Baseball/softball diamond
  • Horseshoe pits
  • Soccer fields

McNamara Park

Centrally located in south Merced, McNamara Park offers a broad range of recreational activities and plenty of shade.

Location:  1040 Canal Street, Merced, Ca

Size:  9 acres

Facilities:

  • Restrooms and drinking fountains
  • Picnic tables and shelters, BBQ grills
  • Playground
  • Concessions stand
  • Recreation hall
  • Baseball/softball diamond
  • Basketball courts
  • Horseshoe pits
  • Soccer fields
  • Swimming pool
 Dog Park  -  PHOTO BY ADAM BLAUERT

Dog Park  - PHOTO BY ADAM BLAUERT

Merced Dog Park

Looking for a place to allow your dog to play off-leash with other dogs?  The Merced Dog Park has well-fenced areas for both small dogs and larger dogs.

For information about the local dog club:

M-DOGS (Merced Dog Owners Group)

Location: Yosemite and R Streets

 Merced Dog Park -  PHOTO BY ADAM BLAUERT

Merced Dog Park - PHOTO BY ADAM BLAUERT

Size:  8 acres

Facilities:

 Dog Park  -  PHOTO BY ADAM BLAUERT

Dog Park  - PHOTO BY ADAM BLAUERT

Rahilly Park 3
Rahilly Park 3

Rahilly Park

 A shady creekside park in the center of north Merced, Rahilly Park has long been a favorite with families. 

To avoid confusion, note that Google maps and other online map sources may refer to this park as “Black Rascal Park.”

 Rahilly Park -  PHOTO BY ADAM BLAUERT

Rahilly Park - PHOTO BY ADAM BLAUERT

Rahilly Park

Location:  3302 Parsons Avenue, Merced

Size: 17 acres

Facilities:

Youth Sports Complex

Location:  1800 Block of Wardrobe Avenue, Merced

Size:  12 Acres

Facilities:

  • Restrooms and drinking fountains
  • Concessions stand
  • Baseball/softball diamond
  • Soccer fields

 


Lake McSwain and Lake McClure

 photo by adam blauert

photo by adam blauert

Lake McSwain and Lake McClureLake McSwain and Lake McClure: These two sister reservoirs on the Merced River are operated as a unit by the Merced Irrigation District.  Both provide excellent fishing.

  PHOTO BY ADAM BLAUERT

PHOTO BY ADAM BLAUERT

Lake McSwain may be tiny in comparison to Lake McClure, but sometimes has better trout fishing.  Gigantic Lake McClure is especially popular for waterskiing, wake boarding, and houseboats.

A 15-mile trail between the Bagby Recreation Area (Highway 49) and Briceburg (140) provides good river fishing, hiking, and mountain biking.

 bike park   

bike park

 

  • Location:  Lake McClure Road near Merced Falls
  • Distance from Merced:  30 miles
  • Distance from Los Banos:  66 miles
  • Operating authority:  Merced Irrigation District
  • Surface area of lake: McClure 7,110 acres, McSwain 308 acres

Facilities and activities

  • Boat ramps, marina, fish-cleaning stations
  • Flush restrooms
  • Drinking fountains
  • Campgrounds/group campgrounds with BBQ grills/fire rings, shelters, hot showers, RV hookups
  • Picnic areas with tables, shelters, and BBQ grills
  • Group picnic areas and shelters
  • Swimming beach
  • Playgrounds
  • Store, laundry facilities, dump station
  • Dogs allowed?  Yes
  • Horses allowed?  No
  • Hunting allowed?  No
  • Fish species:  bass, bluegill, catfish, crappie, shad, sunfish, trout
  • Rentals:  Boats and personal watercraft including houseboats

Website: http://www.lakemcclure.com/

Drought Watch information for MID