February 20, 2022
Several trails in the park.
Total distance walked: 2.70 miles
On a cloudy but warm Sunday afternoon, my sister Gracia and I strolled through the 400-acre Ahwahnee Hills Regional Park located in Madera County, California. In the early 1990’s, local residents pushed for establishing this park. The area has an interesting history prior to that time.
From the parking lot, we walked to the Back Country Horsemen of California information board. Along with seven miles of hiking/walking trails, there are six miles of equestrian trail.
Passing the info board, we quickly came upon the remains of an old fireplace. In 1918 Madera, Merced, and Stanislaus Counties, who owned the property, created the Tri-County Tuberculosis Sanatorium. Dozens of structures were built including a hospital, quarters for doctors and nurses, a children’s home, and a school. The sanatorium closed in 1969 due to new treatments for tuberculosis. The area then became a school for troubled boys.
Gracia and I walked a circuitous route over rolling hills and under old oak trees.
Though we didn’t see the birds, their happy chirps and trilling made the trees ring with song.
In the 1800s, the land was home to Native Americans. The park is named for the Native American word meaning deep, grassy valley—ahwahnee.
There are many trees in the deep, grassy valley.
Continuing our walk after a brief rest on the bench, we came upon the Lakeview Trail.
Walking past the 15-acre wetland—also known as the lake—we spied waterfowl dawdling in the dun-colored grass.
Geese glided steadily across the water’s surface toward shore.
Leaving the lake, we crossed a couple of wooden bridges then took the Apple Tree Trail where many of the trees had been cut down. Long ago, the sanatorium staff grew fruit and vegetables. I wondered if this was where they gardened.
This area is rich in history. There is so much more to see and learn, but it will have to wait until the next visit.