Hi. I’m Walking Bob and I was walking along Putah Creek as it winds through U.C. Davis when a jogger-by happened to be playing a song by my favorite group, Creedence Clearwater Revival. Not just any song, but their big hit about Putah Creek.
You don’t remember when John Fogerty wrote about Putah Creek? Remember the line, “Pick up a flat rock and skip it across Putah Creek?” Well, to be honest, John did change the name to Green River for the song, but it was based on his experiences along the Putah Creek at Cody’s Camp cabins near Winters. His brother and former Creedence bandmate, Tom, recalls their annual visits and said “Everything described in that song is real and actually happened” in an interview you can still hear at the KoolRadio Website.
I love Putah Creek because there are so many places to walk or just sit and enjoy the water, the ever-changing vegetation, the water birds, the turtles and all the people who walk, bike, jog or just stroll along its banks. One of the most scenic portions of the creek is the section that runs through the U.C. Davis campus.
Even the usually dry bed of Putah Creek that you can find along the Putah Creek Parkway Wildlife Corridor in South Davis can be interesting, as the turkeys and other creatures that wander the area come by. As you’re out walking, you might even discover The Putah Creek Winery based in South Davis.
Walking through the Arboretum along the banks of Putah Creek can be a different adventure each time you come based on when you cross which of the many bridges. This is one of the best times to visit due to the variety of fall colors, but the wide variety of plants there are always adjusting to this season or that. My preferred journey is to park at Borders and walk down to the beginning of the creek. As long as you’re back in less than two hours, parking is free.
My most memorable experience with Putah Creek came when I was helping my kids with a Davis High Student Council fundraiser involving rubber ducks. People paid for numbered ducks and then the ducks were dumped in the water to float downstream to the finish line. The first ducks to cross the finish line would win prizes for the people who bought them. Unfortunately, the creek was running faster than expected and the students with the nets who were supposed to scoop out the winners at the finish line hadn’t arrived there when the ducks approached. Being a helpful dad, I waded out into Putah Creek and tossed ducks up, in order of finish, to those students who were there. It wasn’t until we had all the winners that I realized that I hadn’t taken my wallet or checkbook out of my pants pockets before I waded in. At least I didn’t have a cell phone back in 1998.
Whether you’re going to Putah Creek to relax in the Arboretum, trying to catch some fish in the waters between Davis and Winters, or just skipping that flat rock across the creek, my recommendation is that you not follow my example. Putah Creek is best enjoyed from a dry place on the bank.