Hi. I’m Walking Bob, and I’ll admit that I’ve been walking earlier in the morning lately to avoid those high nineties in the afternoon. However, I recently remembered an area that my friend, David Rausch, showed me in South Davis, and I found a haven from the heat. I got there by walking over the Dave Pelz Bike Over-Xing, going through Willow Creek Park and continuing south to Putah Creek Park, which is really just the name for a long stretch of cool peace in South Davis.
The walkway is asphalt on the western portion and dirt on the eastern portion, but the whole walk is canopied with trees. One passerby told me, “It’s like an escape into the cool mountains, without having to fight the traffic or do any climbing.” The east end of the path is labeled “Natural Area – Native Grass & Plant Restoration Project.” Along this dirt path section you’ll see this weathered sign that shows some of the birds native to the area.
I understood why the birds and squirrels like this section of the walk because I came across a whole range of low-lying fruit and berries that were well nibbled. I also saw some mostly untouched food higher up in the trees, awaiting the native critter that gets out on this branch or climbs the right part of that tree. Not enough grapes to make much wine, but plenty to feed the birds and squirrels.
There were many intricate spider webs throughout the walk, most with the web maker quietly awaiting the next errant insect to get caught in the web. I didn’t see any black widows, but the spiders I did see did not look like anything I’d want to walk into in my yard, or on this walk. My advice is to stay on the path and not walk too close to the edge, where the webs await. These spiders look like they mean business.
You’ll find benches along the way for you to pause to read a book or just watch nature in action, or sometimes even better, nature with no action but a cool breeze. It seems like it’s twenty degrees cooler along this path, and nobody says you have to jog or hurry through. Just sit there a few minutes, and see how many squirrels, birds, butterflies, dragonflies, spiders, and other flying creatures you see by sitting and would have missed as you hurried by.
The path is quiet, but busy, and you will see people walking alone, walking with friends, walking their dogs, walking using walkers, jogging, pushing strollers, riding bicycles and generally finding their own way down the trail. Some live nearby and told me they take this stroll everyday. Others are on their way from here to there and want to take the scenic route. There is even a park for kids to take a play break along the way.
I know that summer is about over and you probably won’t get any more trips to Tahoe or the beach for awhile, but don’t forget this little treasure of a day-time escape right here in your backyard. Putah Creek Park is shown in pretty small print running parallel to the P/Q line on the UniTrans map and is also clear on the Davis Bike Map south of Cowell and east of Marguerite Montgomery School. If you’re driving there, you can park on one of many streets that dead end along Putah Creek or the greenbelt between Cowell and the walkway. Just don’t block anyone’s driveway.
If anyone has any other off-the-beaten-path walks that will help people find a few cool moments of nature and quiet reflection around Davis, let me know. I’m always looking for another path not taken.