Hiking with the Boys at Lost Lake Park

May 25, 2013 | 2013 Articles, Arts & Entertainment, Tom Sims

by Tom Sims

It was a curious convergence. The eldest grandson was coming over to spend time with the youngest. The “grandpa article” was due. I was clueless. I had exhausted all my ideas and my cash reserves. What would be good to do that would cost little and generate enough interest to engage a seven year old who loads of energy and a twelve year old with a good deal more maturity?


That is all I could think of. It is free to walk most places and there is much to see.

But we were all novices at it, especially me. We did not have any advanced equipment, knowledge, or skill. Furthermore, we had limited time to get where we were going and get back.

Where could we get lost in the activity without actually getting lost? The answer was Lost Lake Nature Trail, just down the road in Friant.

It costs $5 to get in the gate and there are all the perfect elements for a hike: a trail, trees, weeds, wildlife, and a river.

I had begun my search online, just checking the weekend events, most of which cost money. As I checked out the trails, this one looked most promising. When I floated the idea past my grandsons, there was instant affirmation. It was an
“Aha!” moment.

My wife packed her boys up with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and Kaibian (7) loaded his backpack with water and snacks. We hit the road.

Twenty minutes later we were pulling into the gate and looking for the trail head. The Lost Lake Audubon Nature Trail was developed by the Fresno Audubon Society and is located along the banks of the San Joaquin River. It is a simple trail, but there is nature everywhere it is given a chance to grow.

There are little trails off of the big trail and several lead to the river where there are rocks to climb on, places to stick your feet and hands in the water, and spots to sit while the kids explore. We saw birds and fish and lizards. What else do kids need to stay engaged?

There were a couple of opportunities to believe one was lost coupled with the opportunity for an adult to explain. “Do you see that river over there? It goes on for miles. It is to the north of us. Do you see that hill up there? Yes? It goes on for miles and is to the south of us. This way is east and the other is west. All we have to do is keep walking in this direction and we will find the car.”

Grandpa got to sound like an experienced outdoorsman and the boys got to experience picking foxtails out of their socks.


I did not see the ducks or the bald eagle that other reviewers had reported. I did see a gorgeous river in the midst of an urban area. I did experience a moment of deep serenity and the illusion we had traveled miles and days. I could smell the forest. I felt the satisfaction of hearing the younger say it was the best day ever and the eldest say we should take more hikes.

There are ample picnic tables and shady areas outside of the trail itself.

There are plenty of bathrooms and parking places.

On the trail, we found that someone had left some fishing line and a rusty hook. After lunch, we went back to the river armed with those and Christian (12) found a stick and fashioned a fishing pole. With leftover lunch for bait, the two fishermen gave it their best shot.

They had as much luck as all the fishermen we met with fancy gear. They caught loads of satisfaction … and no fish.
It is billed as a one hour, 1.2 mile hike. We stretched the even to between 2 and a half and 3 hours. Coordinates are Center: 36.9713°N 119.7386°W. Center: 36.9713°N 119.7386°W
Elevation at the center is 328 feet.

The trail is part of Lost Lake Park, established in 1959 and maintained by Fresno County. If you desire more than just a hike, there are many recreational options. We came to keep it simple.

Entrance fees at all developed County parks are $5 per vehicle and annual passes are available for $40 per year. Call (559) 600-3004 for more information. Group picnic areas can be reserved at (559) 600-3004.

Camping is available at varied prices. There are 42 campsites, softball and volleyball courts, and a dump station.But it was and is the nature trail that brought us and will bring us back. It was a truly great day! Happy hiking!

DIRECTIONS: From downtown Fresno, drive north on Freeway 41, 7.7 miles to Friant Road, exit right. Drive 9.5 miles on Friant Road to the park entrance on the left. If you need a map, check this out: MAP

Summer Hours: April 1st – September 30th from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Winter Hours: October 1st – March 31st from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

If you would like to volunteer at Lost Lake Park you can contact the Friends of Lost Lake Park.

For other hiking trails in and around Fresno, visit: http://www.everytrail.com/best/hiking-fresno-california

Tom Sims is a local pastor (and Grandpa!), writer, and blogger. His congregation, “The Fellowship of Joy,” is part of a larger collaborative called “4141 Ministries,” of which he is Executive Director & he is an active Toastmaster. You can also find him on Facebook.



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