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Chapter 2: Introduction to Canal bike trails and bike paths

There are many canals that cut across Fresno to deliver water from the dams of Shaver and Millerton to the farms west of Fresno.  The primary beneficiaries of these canals have been the farmers of the valley, but we also have benefited from the great agricultural bounty of our San Joaquin Valley. 

These canals have been great informal paths for bicyclists, and although many of them are not open to the public, the more adventurous bicyclists among us have taken advantage of the opportunity to travel across our communities via these canal bicycle paths without fear of automobile traffic. 

In a dedication ceremony in June 2016, then Mayor Ashley Swearingen announced The McKinley Canal Bike Path as the beginning of a system of bicycle pathways that would cross Fresno and connect with the Clovis Old Town Bike Path that was built on former railroad tracks. Alas, many years later, the McKinley Canal Bike Path remains a proposed project on some Fresno City planner's desk. Nonetheless, there is still great excitement among bicyclist about the possibility of opening up the McKinley canal to bicyclists as well as the possibility of connecting it the various other canals that crisscross the Central Valley.

Fresno County has formally moved forward on some of these canal bike paths and many of them are connected to a somewhat intricate network of paths. Most of these paths are in north Fresno and Clovis and are less accessible to bicyclist in central and south Fresno, but they are a model for the possible utilization of the interconnected canals and former railroad track bike paths that can offer great recreation and transportation possibilities for the community. The Enterprise Canal, the Clovis Town Trail, the Sugar Pine Trail, and the Dry Creek Trail have been officially designated as approved bike trails and are currently interconnected, with the exception of small gaps that break up the continuity of the canal bike paths and force people to deviate to the streets and then reconnect with the paths at a later point. These are minor inconveniences, they but don’t detract much from the rides.

There are so many canals across the communities of Fresno and Clovis that have the potential to offer bicyclists controlled and protected rides as well as give them access to views that are not available otherwise. In subsequent newsletters, I will be sharing with you some of these canals trails and bike paths.

We hope you enjoyed this chapter from Juan Flores' Bicycling in Fresno.

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