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Ripon bridge, trails, woods & river offer pleasant walks

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Ripon bridge, trails, woods & river offer pleasant walks

A family enjoys an excursion on foot and bicycle across the Stanislaus River.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

POSTED February 18, 2012 1:37 a.m.

RIPON — One of the most accessible spots in the Northern San Joaquin Valley for walking in a natural wooded area by the river is in Ripon and is visible from busy Highway 99.

The pedestrian bridge imported from Alabama over the Stanislaus River not only opened safer bicycle access to Stanislaus County but created a pleasant stroll for walkers of all ages.

There is a small parking lot that can be accessed by taking the Main Street exit off southbound Highway 99 in Ripon. Turning left to go over the freeway and once you reach the stop sign by the Shell station, turn left and then quickly turn right onto Parallel Avenue. That will take you right to the parking lot.

The paved trail is striped for bicycle use so the basic rules apply – walkers on the right and bicyclists pass on the left with police warnings. The gentle drop down to the bridge is easy to navigate. Once on the bridge, you get a nice view of riparian woodland and can enjoy the textures of the water passing below. Granted, the view to the west could be a bit better but a freeway is a freeway. It doesn’t take long before you’re lost in the magic of nature. You’ll find yourself pausing for long periods on the bridge which has a cyclone fence attached to the trusses for added protection.

You can continue south into Stanislaus County if you wish but most walkers undoubtedly will be tempted to head toward the slight hill on the north side and take one of two dirt trails. Ultimately, you could reach Ripon’s Mavis Stouffer Park if you’re adventuresome. But you don’t have to go far until you can come to a quiet spot on the river’s edge where you can enjoy the timeless pastime of tossing sticks, leaves and rocks into the river.

On the main trails you will encounter mountain bikers from time-to-time, but when you head toward the river’s edge, the path is a bit precarious leaving the two wheelers behind.

If you are on a bicycle and opt to go into Salida, the bike path dumps out at the start of Pierrone Road which will eventually take you to Highway 132 by the Union 76 station near Blue Diamond Growers.

There are chemical bathrooms near the parking lot. You will have to bring your own water, though, whether you stick to walking by the river or venture by bicycle toward Salida.

The bridge was made possible by Measure K sales tax funding that is the quarter cent you pay on all transactions in San Joaquin County to fund transpiration projects.

Prior to Measure K, bicyclists and pedestrians were allowed to cross the river on the Highway 99 freeway shoulder as the only other crossing into Stanislaus County from San Joaquin County was McHenry Avenue out of Escalon.

— Dennis Wyatt
managing editor

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