Alternative ways to get fit, healthier for New Year

The Fresno BeeJanuary 1, 2014 

A lone mountain biker descends the San Joaquin River Trail above Finegold Park at Millerton Lake. The popular trail is also used by hikers and equestrians.

ERIC PAUL ZAMORA/THE FRESNO BEE — Fresno Bee Staff Photo Buy Photo

With another New Year here, resolutions devoted to getting fit, losing weight and being healthier are always near the top of people's lists.

On Wednesday, hundreds of people got off to a fast start on their goals, at the Fresno Resolution Run at Woodward Park and the Resolution Run 5K in Visalia.

For those looking for somewhere to start, running is one of the easiest places to start and it gets you outside. In and around Fresno, it seems nearly every weekend some organization or nonprofit is hosting a run as a way to raise money.

The Sierra Running Company has an in-store message board advertising local runs and also hosts a pub run the final Monday of each month at Sequoia Brewing Company's northwest Fresno location. Details:

For a list of upcoming runs, visit, and

As abundant as running is in Fresno, here are six alternatives to start enjoying what's nearby for fitness neophytes.

1. Hike the lower SJRT

The Lewis S. Eaton Trail in northwest Fresno offers 6 miles that provide a beautiful overlook of the river bottom and has access points near Woodward Park. It's the start of a planned trail that will span from the river near Highway 99 into the Sierras. But for now, the two trails don't meet.

Another portion of the SJRT links Millerton Lake to the San Joaquin River Gorge Management Area above Auberry. This slice of trail is 15 miles long, but there's no need to go the full distance. Just follow Sky Harbor Road (near Table Mountain Casino) until its end at the South Finegold Picnic Area. From there, the trail climbs one mile to a plateau with sweeping views of the river canyon and Shuteye Ridge.


2. Rock climb at Metalmark, then head outdoors

While this activity isn't entirely outdoors, the climbing and fitness gym Metalmark helps out people pledging to exercise more. The gym waives all initiation fees for members through January as a way to start on those resolutions.

It's a company-wide move by Touchstone Climbing, says Riley Kane, a staffer at the central Fresno gym that features an indoor rock wall and also serves as a traditional gym with treadmills, machines and free weights.

The gym also hosts Metalmark Outdoors, a once-a-month trip to a nearby climbing spot. Kane says trips have gone to Tollhouse Rock, Yosemite Valley and Buck Rock in the Sequoia National Forest. The trips are organized by joining the store's email list and preference is given to those who have yet to climb outdoors.

Details: or call (559) 229-7900.

3. Disc golf the Valley

The central San Joaquin Valley is a haven for disc golf courses. Woodward Park is home to a sprawling 18-hole course and in the summer China Peak has a 27-hole course from the summit to base area.

Visalia, Hanford, Madera, Merced and Coalinga have courses and there are also ones at Hume Lake and Hensley Lake. It's a less strenuous sport that you can enjoy at your own pace with friends or solo.

For a full list of disc golf courses in the Valley and nationwide, visit

4. Hike with the Conservancy

If you're not aware of the Sierra Foothill Conservancy, it's a nonprofit agency that has eight preserves in the surrounding foothills and works to protect these areas and make them accessible for residents. It's a volunteer effort that provides great hikes with spectacular views just a few miles out of Fresno/Clovis.

Almost weekly, SFC offers guided day-hikes (from beginner to advanced) at one of its preserves and also has a handful of open preserve days through the year, allowing people to adventure and explore the grasslands and forested foothills.


5. Stroll the Mural District

If you're not a fan of the mountains but still love to feel the sun on your skin, then take a stroll through downtown Fresno's Mural District.

With 20 murals put up by Creative Fresno bordered by Tuolumne, Divisadero, H and L streets. Walk, bike, roller blade or skate from mural to mural while getting your blood flowing and taking in great scenery provided by Fresno's premier artists. Details:

6. Mountain bike, BMX or skate Fresno

Woodward Parks has an extensive mountain bike trail and Fresno's Mosqueda Park is home to the largest BMX only concrete park in the country. With nine action sports parks in Fresno -- Lions, Kaiser, Todd Beamer, Woodward Park, Cary, Melody, Romain, Mosqueda and The Ark -- skaters and bikers have plenty of options to ride.


If parks aren't your style, ride on more than 15 miles of paved trails through Fresno and Clovis. Details:


National Park free fee days in 2014:

** Jan. 20 -- Martin Luther King Jr. Day

** Feb. 15-17 -- Presidents Day weekend

** April 19-20 -- opening weekend of National Park Week

** Aug. 25 -- National Park Service birthday

** Sept. 27 -- National Public Lands Day

** Nov. 11 -- Veterans Day

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6401, or @anhelllll on Twitter.

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