The Lakeview Trail, which follows the eastern shore of Eastman Lake and into the Chowchilla River canyon, offers an ideal setting to enjoy the lingering spring.
Located about 40 miles northeast of Fresno, Eastman Lake lies in a transition zone between grassland savannahs and oak woodlands. In most years, rising temperatures bake those grasses brown and wilt any remaining wildflowers by the time we flip the calendar to May.
The Lakeview Trail begins on the southeast side of the lake, adjacent to the Codorniz Group Campground. Hikers share the trail with mountain bikers and equestrians, although we encountered few signs of either.
Formerly closed during prime hiking season after 1 mile, the Lakeview Trail now stretches 4.2 miles to its terminus at the Raymond Bridge (Road 613). Feel free to turn around any time you like.
Blue oaks and live oaks are the dominant trees, with a few bull pine and California buckeye thrown in for good measure. Closer to the ground, blue lupine, golden poppies, orange fiddleneck and purple vetch are sprinkled among native grasses.
After about 1 1/2 miles, the trail leaves the main body of Eastman Lake and heads toward the Chowchilla River inlet. At this point, keep your eyes peeled for a pair of nesting bald eagles. (We never saw the eagles, but a couple of red-tailed hawks sure seemed to have their eyes peeled toward us.)
The trail hugs the shoreline, meandering up and down hills, as markers spaced every quarter-mile keep hikers apprised of their progress. There are many scenic spots for a picnic with excellent views of the lake.
Originally published in The Fresno Bee and on fresnobee.com on May 1, 2003