George Hatfield Park, California

Today we will be going to a park closer to home. Its the New Year and Deelow decided to go to another park with the dogs. Like I have mentioned before, dogs aren’t allowed in most state parks so I picked this simple park in the central valley.  Dad, Deelow, and I together with all the dogs prepared for our trip to the park. Dad drove via 33 south and turn to Marshall Road until it changes to River Road and ends in Hills Ferry and left to Kelley Road and the park was by the bridge.

Welcome sign

It’s very noticeable because its the only area with plenty of trees compared to the surroundings of fields. We missed the entrance because I messed up and Dad had to make a U-turn and entered the park. Its self-registration with the $7 entrance fee for the day. I walked to the end parking lot while they drove, and parked by the restroom area on the east side. According to their site here are the things that can be done in the park. (Also, no brochure.)

“The Merced River, after coursing its way through the Yosemite Valley, becomes calm and inviting as it flows through McConnell State Recreation Area. Towering cottonwoods and sycamores offer relief from the dry heat of the central San Joaquin Valley. Where the Merced passes through George J. Hatfield State Recreation Area, visitors are inspired to take advantage of a riparian habitat that offers fishing, swimming, rafting and other water-related activities. The two parks are about 20 miles from each other, and because of their proximity, they share essentially the same ecology.”

We took the dogs on the leash and walked down the trail into the Merced River, where there was a sandy part of the beach. Deelow unleashed Corvo so me and Dad did the same. The dogs had the run of their life running around crossing the little body of water to the island made by the changing current.  Yusuf was the only one who stay close to us. After exploring the beaches and waters we were supposed to go to the old bridge but we have to go around. We put the dogs back in their leashes and instead we followed the map and head to the long trail on the other side.

The beach

We followed the river banks until it became impassable because of the grasses and fallen branches. We crossed across the picnic area where there was a family enjoying a picnic. We tried to stay out of their way. We took pictures and videos as we walk enjoying the cool weather and shaded path. As we walk to the other side,  here is a brief history of the man whose namesake the park carries.

George Juan Hatfield

“George J. Hatfield was born on October 29, 1887 in Waterloo, Canada. It isn’t clear how Harfield got to the U.S but in 1917 he married Judith Barlow Hogan. Together they had three children: Janine Snyder, Mary Elizabeth Gracier, and Georgette Judith Kelley.  

George J. Hatfield

Upon U.S. entry to World War I, Hatfield served in the United States Army and later on in the United States Navy. After the war, he served as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California from 1925–33 and was the 32nd Lieutenant Governor of California from 1935 to 1939 serving under Governor Frank Merriam.  During his political years he is a member of the Republican State Central Committee until 1950. He died on November 15, 1953 at the age of 66.”

Due to his contribution to the state a bridge along Route 165 at the San Joaquin River in Merced County, was named the “George J. Hatfield Bridge,” and of course the “George J. Hatfield State Recreation Area.” We walked to the side of the road leading up to the dirt trail but to our surprise, there was no trail at all.

with the doggies

Deelow tried to blaze a trail but it was no use because of the huge branches on the way. There were also tall grasses that the path was not even visible. So when we reached the waterway area, we turned to the road and walked back to the clearer side of the park through it. We crossed the park to the superintendent’s office where there was a vehicles parked and went to the bridge. It was very dirty filled with trashes and smelled like piss, but to our surprise, it was a historic bridge the Merced Bridge built-in 1910.

Dead end trail

We have thought the other side was also part of the park because of the benches and picnic tables, but to our dismay, it was a private property. We crossed back to the other side and decided to stay at the sandy beach and explored the island in between. As we walk along the trail and grasses while making our own path here is the continuation of the park’s history.

“George J. Hatfield, former California Lieutenant Governor, and State Senator, donated this land to the State to establish the recreation area, which was dedicated September 20, 1953. A bronze plaque honoring Louisa Jane Cox, the grandmother of Mrs. Hatfield, is placed in a group of oak trees. As a girl in 1849, Louisa traveled with her family over the Santa Fe Trail to California. Bordered on three sides by the Merced River, the 46.5-acre park has more than a mile of river frontage. 

We didn’t find any bronze plaque for Jane Cox even though we looked for it everywhere. We let the dogs loose and to the island where unfortunately Chloe and Yusuf had those spiky small round plants got stuck on their furs. We had to take our time to take them out later. We walked and this was another less-visited part of the park and it wasn’t that big. Dad and Chloe crossed earlier back to the other side while the rest of us walked up until the end where there was a pile of logs and Deelow let Corvo go to cross on his own. She carried Sal while I carried Yusuf.

I got down first, slipping like two times and getting my shoes wet. Dad made a small bridge to cross. As we get ready, to our surprise Corvo jumped to the water and Deelow was laughing. She said Corvo thought the water moss was the grass of lands and was surprised when it wasn’t. Anyway, we all successfully crossed and I took out the round spiky thing off Yusuf while Deelow and Dad worked on Chloe. We sat by the beach and as we work here is the rest of the information about the park.

“No lifeguard service is available, and the riverbanks are narrow and steep. This recreation area, a less frequently visited unit of the State Park System, provides significant outdoor activities for families and fishermen. Spring, summer, and fall offer fishing, camping, picnicking, river wading, sunbathing, hiking and nature study.”

After that, we all went back to the truck, let the dogs drink and we head back home after spending more than 2 hours in the park and enjoying our New Year.

Here are the links for more information:

https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=556

http://www.joincalifornia.com/candidate/5452

Say Cheez!

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