By MONICA CANE
Choosing to move to the town of Ripon at the beginning of the summer months has caused me to look into fun things my family and I can do near town particularly on those hot days when thermometers were hitting 100 plus degrees. While staying inside with the A/C blasting is appealing at times, I do like having other outdoor options.
Two options I found and plan to fully take advantage of this summer is surprisingly just a few minutes drive away from my home, Army Corps Park and Caswell State Park.
Army Corps Park has over 30 acres with a trail perfect for hiking or running (if you happen to be the running type). The trail which starts in Ripon has a bridge that crosses the Stanislaus River. The bridge was somewhat of an unexpected treat for the city of Ripon almost two decades ago when they learned that the structure, initially built in the late nineties for a particular location in Florida had an error in the original design. Because of the design error the bridge was made available for purchase and the city of Ripon was the lucky buyer.
With a length of over 600 feet to cross the Stanislaus River, fun summer seekers in the San Joaquin County can enjoy beautiful scenery as they take leisure strolls, view nature, walk hand in hand with a sweetheart, ride bikes or as previously mentioned, go for a nice long run which I personally cannot comprehend because I’m definitely a walker not a runner. Nevertheless, however one chooses to cross the bridge, enjoying the beauty of such a path is what summer days are made of.
Then there is Caswell State Park which runs along the Stanislaus River and is located on South Austin Rd. This park as I discovered also offers the opportunity for hiking, biking, nature walks and again that crazy idea of running. In addition, visitors can fish for bass, catfish and other fish-types along with enjoying nearby beaches, swimming, day and night camping for families and groups and also go boating, eat in the picnic areas, participate in various exhibits and programs and if you’re lucky catch a glimpse of some wildlife feathered friends.
I must admit, even though I’ve lived in the San Joaquin County for many, many years, I never fully realized how many parks there were in the area, especially ones that ran across or alongside the Stanislaus River. I certainly never knew just how much Army Corps Park and Caswell State Park, which are only a hop, skip and a jump from me had to offer. However now that I’ve branched out and discovered this exciting information, I’m ready for some serious summer time park adventure. And who knows maybe I’ll really branch out and even try running on one of the beautiful park trails just once.