Yes, Fresno is sadly the butt of jokes: the meth capital of California, it looks better from a rear-view mirror, the spoof of Dallas staring Carol Burnett. Most of the comments derogatory towards Fresno are made by people who never spent time here, or, sadly, have only driven through on CA-99. But the fact is, this city of 500,000 has plenty of quirky neighborhoods to explore and is rich in diversity. Plus, if you love nature, three national parks are about 90 minutes away, and you do not have to go far to escape urban stress.

The best place to start is by going to Woodward Park and finding your way to the Lewis S. Eaton Trail. Whether you decide to explore by bicycling, horseback or walking (with humans or the dog, as I recently did), the Eaton Trail is an easy walk and offers spectacular views. So far it is about five miles of pathways that merge onto Old Friant Road, where the offices of the San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust are located. Several local non-profits, including the San Joaquin River Conservancy, are striving to procure more land to expand local wildlife habitat and extend the trail as far as 22 miles.

Views of the San Joaquin River bluffs, the Sierra Nevada Mountains on a clear day and local farms can be enjoyed while taking in a bike ride or brisk walk. If you want to pack a lunch, the Lassens on Fort Washington and Friant is a good place to stock up—note that they are closed on Sundays. If you happen to travel to Fresno, an afternoon here on the Eaton Trail is time well spent. Dogs are welcome; just be sure to use common sense and pick up their waste.

Image credits: Leon Kaye

Eaton Trail, Woodward Park, Fresno, Old Friant Road, hiking, bicycling, San Joaquin Valley, San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust, San Joaquin River Conservancy, Lassens, Leon Kaye

Fall colors are spectacular this time of year

Eaton Trail, Woodward Park, Fresno, Old Friant Road, hiking, bicycling, San Joaquin Valley, San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust, San Joaquin River Conservancy, Lassens, Leon Kaye

A bridge from Fresno to peace and quiet

Eaton Trail, Woodward Park, Fresno, Old Friant Road, hiking, bicycling, San Joaquin Valley, San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust, San Joaquin River Conservancy, Lassens, Leon Kaye

The branches are barren but the Eaton Trail is nonetheless lovely

Eaton Trail, Woodward Park, Fresno, Old Friant Road, hiking, bicycling, San Joaquin Valley, San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust, San Joaquin River Conservancy, Lassens, Leon Kaye

On a good day you can see the Sierra Nevadas

Eaton Trail, Woodward Park, Fresno, Old Friant Road, hiking, bicycling, San Joaquin Valley, San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust, San Joaquin River Conservancy, Lassens, Leon Kaye

Views of local farms are part of the walk

Eaton Trail, Woodward Park, Fresno, Old Friant Road, hiking, bicycling, San Joaquin Valley, San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust, San Joaquin River Conservancy, Lassens, Leon Kaye

Your dog will appreciate the play date here

Eaton Trail, Woodward Park, Fresno, Old Friant Road, hiking, bicycling, San Joaquin Valley, San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust, San Joaquin River Conservancy, Lassens, travel

The visitors center of the San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust is well worth visiting

About The Author

Leon Kaye

Leon Kaye is the founder and editor of GreenGoPost.com. Based in California, he specializes in social media consulting and strategic communications. A journalist and writer since 2009, his work has appeared on Triple Pundit , The Guardian's Sustainable Business site and has appeared on Inhabitat and Earth911. His focus is making the business case for sustainability and corporate social responsibility. Areas of interest include the <a Middle East, sustainable development in The Balkans, Brazil and Korea. He was a new media journalism fellow at the International Reporting Project, for which he covered child survival in India during February 2013. Contact him at leon@greengopost.com. You can also reach out via Twitter (Leon Kaye) and Instagram (GreenGoPost). Since 2013, he has spent much of his time in Abu Dhabi, UAE, working with Masdar, the emirate's renewable energy company. He lives in Fresno, California.