In 1992, the Oakhurst River Parkway was a dream of a small group of citizens who wanted to preserve and restore the natural resources of the environment in our community. Countless hours by volunteers have transformed the dream into a beautiful nature trail in the center of one of the most thriving mountain communities in the Sierra Nevada, Oakhurst, California. Oakhurst is a small community located at the junction of Highways 41 & 49 at the southern end of the Golden Chain Highway; the California Gold Country. It is 14 miles from the south gate of Yosemite National Park in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. It is located on the Fresno River at an elevation of 2,274 feet and has history back to 1873 then known as Fresno Flats and changing its name to Oakhurst in 1912.
The Oakhurst River Parkway consists of a nature trail along the Fresno River and two tributaries - China Creek and Oak Creek. The tributaries are seasonal, but the Fresno River maintains some flow year round. The parkway winds past Fresno Flats Historical Park which features life as it was over 100 years ago. It also connects the Oakhurst Branch Library, Community Park, Community College, High School, Middle School, Elementary School, and the Boys and Girls Club.
The Community Park itself is used regularly by the townspeople and visitors alike. Outdoor concerts, a playground and horseshoe pits make a perfect setting for picnics and barbecues. The Community Park is surrounded by the Fresno River and China Creek. Across the foot bridge from the park is the County Library and the Chamber of Commerce.
To view a map of the Oakhurst River Parkway, visit www.orptrail.org/mapandhints.html
Vertical Gain or Loss
Relatively flat trail, with a gentle uphill climb.
The Oakhurst River Parkway is a designated area to view beavers and butterflies. There are approximately 261 species of flora and fauna in the Oakhurst area. It is here that you'll often find turtles sunning on the rocks or logs, a blue heron or two, or many interesting bird species from goldfinches bright red-hatted Cassins finches, a few house, gold and purple finches make this part of their territory as well.
A delightful stroll will net you some of the loveliest treats on the trail. This is a favorite roosting place for owls, scrub and Steller's jays, crows, and the millions of songbirds - goldfinches, house finches, white crowned sparrows, robins, mourning doves and so many more which inhabit our area. You may also see a few deer.
Even in the hottest summer, this portion of the trail is cool, quiet, and restful. On sunny days, in the hours just before noon, and again after 5:00 p.m. [Pacific Daylight Time] bird conventions begin. Birds love to take time to get together and chat. It is an amazing thing to find a seat and just listen and look.
A pair of binoculars will net you some beautiful sights. The birds evidently have a lot to chat and sing about and it is fun to try picking out which conversation your favorite bird is involved in. Sometimes you'll hear (and see) the nuthatches and scrub jays making their little "burping" sounds.
ADA Accessibility Notes
The trails are regularly maintained with dirt and concrete for casual hikers with strollers, bikes, and wheelchairs.
Pet Friendly Notes
The Oakhurst River Parkway is a favorite place for joggers and walkers to take their dogs. The trail connects them to main locations in town while circling the Community Park and winding its way to the various school campuses. This beautiful nature trail gets you where you need to go, or gives you a safe place to walk away from streets and highways, and gives our little pet friends lots of good things to sniff and water to jump into. The Oakhurst River Parkway is used annually for events including the "Tails for Trails" event for dogs.