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A hike through Los Banos’ history

A hike through Los Banos’ history

Photo submitted The Path to the Padres trail that goes along Los Banos Creek is re-opening to the public and offering guided tours for the next few months.

POSTED February 12, 2010 9:53 p.m.
Hikers, outdoor enthusiasts, local history buffs, and all others will have the opportunity to walk in the “path of the Padres,” over the next few months with the re-opening of a popular trail.
State park staff at the San Luis reservoir State Recreation Area will be leading visitors on hikes through the Diablo Range beginning Feb. 27 and continuing through April 18.
The “Path of the Padres takes it name from the 35 mile long trail walked by the padres in the early 1800s as they traveled from Mission San Juan Bautista along the Los Banos Creek and into the Central Valley.
The hike starts at Los Banos Creek Reservoir where a pontoon boat ferries passengers to the west end of the reservoir. From there, hikers are taken for a five mile round-trip jaunt that meanders through some of the trail’s most interesting historical and natural spots.
Visitors will have the chance to explore the flora and fauna and learn about the many people who have been drawn to the creek bed, including Native Americans, Spanish Missionaries, gold miners, and ranchers. Hike leaders will be on hand to point out and discuss some of the areas features.
This hike will take about five hours and is moderately strenuous, so participants should be in good physical condition. Because Los Banos Creek is crossed several times during the hike, footwear may get wet. Layered clothing and sturdy footgear should be a priority. Hikers should carry a lunch and a minimum of two quarts of water (more if a hot day). The hike traverses country that can be very hot and dry, depending on weather conditions, so a hat and sunscreen are recommended.
The hike is open on some Fridays and most Saturdays and Sundays. It begins at 8 a.m. and returns to the ramp about 3:30 p.m. The lunch stop is near the historic baths, which are deep pools in the creek that are carved in bedrock and gave Los Banos its name.
Participants have the option of taking a side trip up a steep hill for a spectacular view of the Menjoulet Canyon and the proposed site of the Los Banos Grandes Reservoir. The canyon floor is covered with 576 acres of old-growth Sycamore forest, described by Department of Fish and Game biologists as the largest and most intact natural community of its kind left in California. Binoculars add greatly to enjoyment of the scenery, and may help hikers spot falcons and eagles that may be seen in the area.
The hike is open to the public for those 6 years and older. Reservations are required for the hikes and they will be accepted at the park office. To make a reservation, call 826-1197 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. A reservation fee of $12 per person over 12 years old, and $7 per child age 6 to 12 is required to confirm the telephone reservations. A family of five may reserve space for two adults and three children for $30.  Space is limited. On the day of the hike, visitors must pay the State Park day use parking fee of $10 per car upon entry. Scheduled hikes may be canceled if minimum number of hikers is not met. Refunds or other reservations will be made. For more information please call 826-1197.   
To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.

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