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5 more options for exploring nature in the 209


The rains in March followed by some sunny days have sent a bevy of blooming wildflowers and one way to take them all in is on the Wildflower Train.

Wildflower Trains take guests on a six-mile, one-hour roundtrip ride through the scenic landscapes of California’s Gold Country. Along the way, trains meander by meadows and rolling hills, with such local flora like meadowfoam, goldfields and other colorful flowers typically in bloom. Train ride guests receive a checklist, wildflower booklet and a packet of wildflower seeds.

Wildflower Trains feature naturalists and Interpretive Park Rangers from the nearby Bureau of Reclamation’s New Melones Lake, answering questions and pointing out flower groupings along the way.

The tours are only offered on two consecutive weekends in the spring. This year the tours are set for April 21, 22, 28 and 29. The trains depart at 3 p.m. from the depot at the Railtown 1897 State Historic Park in Jamestown.

Wildflower Train tickets cost $20 for adults, $14 for youth ages 6-17 and children five and under ride free. With some open-air seating available, train ride tickets are available online or at the ticket window beginning at 10 a.m. on the day of the ride (based on availability). Tickets include Park admission, capacity is limited, and advance reservations are suggested.


The first warm days of spring are a great time to go for a bike ride and Modesto is inviting the whole family out to join in the fun.

The Modesto Family Cycling Festival on I Street between 10th and 12th, will transform downtown Modesto into an event like no other. Vendor booths, bicycle helmet giveaways, BMX bike demos, races and other festivities will start at 10 a.m. May 12.

The festival is hosted by the City of Modesto and participating sponsors. Hundreds of helmets are fitted by healthcare professionals from local hospitals and given at no charge to local children.


Riverdance Farms is allowing the public to experience the joys of a bountiful harvest with their annual Pick and Gather Festival, set for May 26 through May 28.

Located alongside the Merced River, attendees of the festival will have an opportunity to pick and taste the river valleys’ best organic fruit. Outdoor activities will include kids’ science and wildlife activities, haybale rides, camping, swimming, nature walks, crafts, fishing lessons, Geo-catching, and storytelling.

Overnight camping is available, with two nights of tent camping in the orchards.

The Riverdance Pick and Gather Festival is located at 11585 Livingston Cressy Road in Livingston. For more information call 761-0081.


Explore some of the beautiful scenery on horseback by taking a trail ride offered by Pine Mountain Lake Stables.

From spring to fall Pine Mountain Lake Stables offers trail rides Wednesday through Sundays. Also offered are play days, horse shows, and children’s horse camps.

Safety equipment is provided. All riders must wear closed toe shoes. Children must be 8 years or older and at least 44 inches in height. Advanced reservations for trail rides is required. Pine Mountain Lake Stables ask that all riders arrive 15 minutes prior to their riding time.

Pine Mountain Lake Stables is located at 13309 Clifton Way in Groveland. For more information or reservations call 962-8667.


Spring weather can be fickle, which makes some outdoor activities hard to plan. But that doesn’t matter when the outdoor activity is underground.

Those with a daring spirit can sign-up for an underground expedition at Moaning Cavern in Vallecito.

Most areas are undeveloped, so there are no lights, stairs, or walkways. Instead, visitors daringly explore by climbing and belly crawling with lighted helmets to show the way.

Expedition trips are offered all year by reservation, and are conducted by experienced, highly trained guides. No experience is necessary and all gear for the expedition is provided.

Depending on the expedition, participants can be as young as 8 years old, but all minors must be accompanied by an adult.

The length of the adventure is between two to three hours. The tours are offered year-round. Moaning Cavern Adventure Park is located at 5350 Moaning Caverns Road in Vallecito. For more information or reservations call 736-2708.