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Blog Judis Jaunts Hiking Raymond Bridge to Eastman Lake
03/06/2018Hiking, Nature, Outdoor Activities, Photography, Seasons, Wildflowers, Wildlife |   

Judi’s Jaunts – Hiking Raymond Bridge to Eastman Lake

This month we are fortunate to have guest author/hiker (and volunteer here at the Visitors Center) Debbie Sebastian. Rest assured that Judi is still jaunting about and note that Judi and Debbie occasionally jaunt together.


At a maximum elevation of 600 feet, the out and back Lakeview Trail from the Raymond Bridge to Eastman Lake is a good hiking choice for fall, winter and spring but is open year round.

The spring version of this hike provides carpets of wildflowers including: California poppies, bush lupine, popcorn flowers, fiddleneck and bird’s eye gilia.

The hike follows the eastern edge of the Chowchilla River which feeds into Eastman Lake, created by Buchanan Dam. Coots and other waterfowl may be seen at the lake’s edge and various birds of prey glide overhead.

Winter or spring, hikers on this trail hope to catch sight of the bald eagles which nest in the area. In March, 2016, we spotted one in a tree on the other side of the lake but this year, in January, we watched a pair settle side-by-side on a tree limb on our side of the river.

We also had the opportunity to photograph a pair of American kestrels that landed on a broken tree next to the trail. Be on the lookout for “big stick” nests high in the trees along the trail.

If hiking all the way and back from Eastman Lake where there are sheltered group picnic tables and restrooms, the hike covers 8.4 miles and the up and down terrain provides a good workout. With frequent stops for photographs, the hike took us about two hours each way.

“The Yokut and Miwok tribes once claimed this area as their home,” according to the website at: www.spk.usace.army.mil/Locations/Sacramento-District-Parks/Eastman-Lake/ . “Evidence of their presence in the area is still evident, mostly in the form of mortar and metate areas, where they ground acorns for food.”

Take plenty of water as the trail is exposed and be watchful for rattlesnakes during certain times of the year. And bring the standby hiking accessories: binoculars, a camera and a field guide (my go-to is John Muir Laws’ The Laws Guide to the Sierra Nevada) to identify birds, mammals and flora.

The trail, about 27 miles from Oakhurst, is reached via Hwy. 41 south. Take a right on Road 415 in Coarsegold and a right on Road 613 just before reaching Raymond and the historic over 100-year-old Raymond General Store. Parking is on the left side of the road just before the bridge where there is also a pit toilet.

For additional information on the hike, contact the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: (559) 689-3255.

Note: The Raymond General Store can be an additional stop on this day adventure. There you can find a sandwich or cold drink and find out more about the little town of Raymond and neighboring Knowles where granite is quarried.

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