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org TrainTrek #5

UC Davis Arboretum
Train line: Amtrak Capitol Corridor Station stop: Davis, 840 Second St., Davis, CA 95616 Distance to trailhead: ~1/2 mile (urban) Amenities nearby: restaurants, coffee, restrooms, grocery, galleries, gifts, parks, sporting goods, books, newsstand Total roundtrip hiking distance from station: 4 miles Hike duration: 2-3 hours Rating: Easy GPS Coordinates: 38.54028, -121.74212 Park website: arboretum.ucdavis.edu Summary: This is an easy stroll through an urban park and plant collection that follows a narrow creek. Shaded paths line both sides of the creek, and numerous bridges allow the visitor to choose a long or short loop. Picnic areas are plentiful. It's a great place to learn about native California plants while enjoying the amenities of a college town. Unique features: This trip offers a chance to reflect upon how we have altered the natural landscape. The trail follows what's left of the original Putah Creek, once a vital resource for local Indians. Now it is a teaching tool to remind us modern residents about the importance of having the right plant in the right place, both for wildlife habitat and our own well-being. The Train Station: The Davis Amtrak Station dates to 1913 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is open daily from 4:15 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. It has a ticket office, baggage service, waiting area, vending machines, pay phones restrooms, drinking fountain.

© 2012 Matt Weiser

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Directions: Upon exiting the train, walk to the right around the train station to the intersection of H and 2nd streets. Continue on 2nd Street and turn left on D Street. Follow D Street until it dead-ends between the Davis Commons parking lot (a Whole Foods market on your left) and a small dirt field on the right with a large oak tree in the middle of it. Look for an asphalt path that crosses the field heading west and leads downhill to Putah Creek. Description: Locals call this place, simply, "The Arb." Our hike begins in the arboretum's "Australian Collection," so it feels a bit otherworldly at first: You're surrounded by plants from a very distant part of the globe. But this is a relatively small focus of the arboretum, and the path soon wanders into more familiar surroundings. The path is asphalt on both sides of the creek, and the walking is easy. There are small dirt or gravel paths at intervals that lead off into special gardens: Mediterranean plants, conifers, desert plants, redwoods, etc. The plants are welllabeled with small signs in the ground, Click here for live map. many noting how American Indians historically used the plant, when appropriate. The trail follows the original course of Putah Creek. Before it was diverted in the late 1800s, the creek would often flood the town during significant storms. Now it's primarily a drainage channel for the city of Davis and the UC Davis campus. Putah Creek inspired the Creedence Clearwater Revival song "Green River." But John Fogerty was writing about a different part of the creek, far upstream, that is still comparatively wild. Many ducks inhabit the creek, and they are pleasant to watch. You'll also probably see many people feeding them © 2012 Matt Weiser

www.traintreks.org bread crumbs and other castoffs. Don't be tempted to copy them: Feeding wildlife is not good for the animals. You'll also see many songbirds flitting near the water, and if you're lucky, a hawk may swoop overhead. There are many places to stop for a picnic, from tables and benches in the special gardens, to large grassy areas at intervals that are big enough for a family gathering or a Frisbee game. The largest are near Putah Creek Lodge, an event hall on the south side of the creek, and surrounding the Carolee Shields Gazebo, perched on a grassy hill near this hike's turnaround point. Also near the gazebo is the Peter Shields Oak Grove, one of The Arb's highlights. It is a comparatively wild place that attempts to explain how a community of oak trees functions ecologically. The return trip to the train station is a chance to walk along the opposite side of the creek to experience a different collection of plants. Or, to change things up, you could walk back trough the campus and the town. Local Highlights: There's a nice picnic area alongside Whole Foods in the Davis Commons shopping center. Called Arboretum Terrace, it's a formal part of the Arboretum itself with picnic tables, fountains, and informational plant displays. It also backs right up to the train tracks you rode in33 on. Throughout this hike, you are smack in the middle of a bustling college town. So why not enjoy the local bookstore (Avid Reader), the local newsstand (NewsBeat), and any number of local eateries and retail shops. There is also the UC Davis campus itself, of course, which adjoins the trail along most of its length. Time your visit right, and you might be able to catch a concert at the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts (also right along the trail) and still make the last train home.

© 2012 Matt Weiser

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