The City of Clovis constructed an extraordinary facility, Dry Creek Trailhead, on the southwest corner of Sunnyside and Shepherd Avenues, located in northern Clovis, in the State of California.
The purpose of the Dry Creek Trailhead is to serve the people as a multi-use bicycle/pedestrian trailhead and rest area. It was designed to provide access to the regional trail system and offer an opportunity to rest after using the trail. The facility is an extremely water efficient, low maintenance trailhead that serves four trails with an anticipated use by 2 million people annually. This site saves and replenishes groundwater, tells the agricultural and water history of the area, and will be the centerpiece of the trail system for years to come. This all happened thanks to the energy and drive of City staff and a supportive City Council serving their community.
The project area covers approximately 3 acres and includes: a parking lot, seating wall, landscape plantings, irrigation system, tables, benches, lights, pedestrian trail bridges, drinking fountains, bike racks, and restroom facilities. The Dry Creek Trailhead also includes concrete trail paths that lead to the adjacent Class I Dry Creek and Enterprise Canal Trail Systems. By its very nature (a facility that promotes pedestrian/bicycle use), the Dry Creek Trailhead is considered a functional component of the intermodal transportation system.
In 2006, the City applied for and was awarded $1,569,100 in competitive Federal Transportation Enhancement funds to develop the Trailhead Rest Area site. Prior to the start of this project however, Clovis experienced the “Great Recession” and was forced to cut staffing budgets, leading to a 15% reduction in personnel for the PDS Department and subsequently putting the project on hold. During this time, several other local communities were experiencing the same budget woes and were unable to utilize their awarded grant funding. In early 2012, an additional $677,900 became available that had been earmarked for another valley city. The city seized the opportunity to use this funding to acquire and construct the Dry Creek Trailhead. The only caveat to the additional funding was that the project would need to be under construction by the spring of 2014.
After much discussion as to whether there was adequate staffing to even handle the project, a decision was made not to pass up on this once-in-a-century funding opportunity and so staff charged ahead.
The Dry Creek Trailhead is a truly unique facility that serves the public and the environment. Each aspect of the trailhead was designed with the intent to enlighten the community of our local history and surroundings. The trailhead blends into the environment as a local farm, which flows around granite outcroppings that are so prevalent in the Central Valley. The granite was also designed to look like the foothills just to the west of the Valley. The vision included creating grinding holes in the granite outcroppings to represent the history of the grinding holes originally used by the local Native Americans to grind acorns, seeds and other items.
The walls surrounding the trailhead were designed to look like natural stacked stone that follows the terrain. The steel fence on top of the stone walls was specifically designed to look rustic and weathered. The trailhead includes a windmill at the southwest entrance to the trails. To enhance the natural feel of a farm, a water well was designed to surround and hide a drain inlet.
A subsurface stormwater retention/detention system was designed to be installed below the trailhead parking lot. The StormTech chambers installed below grade are an innovative, unique solution to the problem of no storm drainage system at this site yet and lack of right-of-way to install a ponding basin to collect storm water. This subsurface stormwater retention/detention system is the first of its kind in the Fresno/Clovis metropolitan area. The StormTech chambers are open-bottom corrugated wall collection chambers that are placed on top of twelve inches of gravel and then also covered by gravel. Stormwater flows into drain inlets at various locations at the trailhead and then flows into the chambers. The system is designed to hold water and allow it to percolate into the ground through the gravel below the chamber. In the future, the chambers can also be connected to new facilities. The underground water storage and recharge structure allow approximately 197,000 gallons of storm water to percolate into the ground. Using the chambers, stormwater can be stored without safety risks to the public and increased the amount of usable land.
The Dry Creek Trailhead facility combines bicycle/pedestrian trail activity with landscaping and scenic beautification. These two activity-specific divisions complement each other. Landscaping provides a shady rest area for the general public, thereby encouraging public use of the adjoining trails systems. The landscape plantings at the site include drought tolerant trees and native grasses.
The Dry Creek Trailhead promotes recreational and commuter trail use. By encouraging an alternative mode of transportation to the automobile (particularly single-occupancy vehicles), the project helps reduce traffic congestion, which improves air quality. The Dry Creek and Enterprise Canal Class I Trail Systems lead to the Dry Creek Trailhead. These trails are considered “connector trails” that function as recreational and commuter transportation facilities.
The Dry Creek Trailhead won the 2015 Urban Forestry Award from the California Urban Forests Council in the category of S.O.S. – Save our Shade. The award is given to an organization or community that demonstrates creative solutions toward caring for the urban tree canopy during California’s drought – preserving the many benefits & services delivered by the community’s trees.
The Dry Creek Trailhead won the Planning and Environmental Quality Helen Putnam Award from the League of California Cities in September 2015. Read the Western City article (pdf) about the trailhead.
On November 5, 2015 this project was awarded the Project of the Year by the American Public Works Association Central California Chapter.
Award of Excellence honoring Valley projects that reflect the "Blueprint" principles in the category of Transportation Enhancement Project. The award was presented at the 11th Annual San Joaquin Valley Fall Policy Conference on October 8, 2015.
Award of Excellence winner on March 8, 2016, at the 68th Annual California Parks & Recreation Society Conference & Expo.
The California Chapter of the America Planning Association has recognized the Dry Creek Trailhead as the three Great Places in California for 2016. A Great Place in California is one that exemplifies character, quality, and excellent planning. The jury was highly impressed with the Trailhead as an exceptional community recreation area and gathering place that preserves the natural environment and encourages alternative transportation.
The Dry Creek Trailhead provides trail users a full spectrum of open space amenities (parking for vehicles and bikes, restrooms, drinking fountains, lights, benches, and pedestrian bridges) to encourage adjoining trail usage.
Dry Creek Trailhead has significant reductions in maintenance over that of a traditional park. Due to the innovative design, including native grasses, drought tolerant trees and various hardscape surfacing, maintenance staff hours are reduced by 85% over a traditional park. A typical park of this size, with a large turf area, costs approximately $20,000/year to maintain; Dry Creek Trailhead cost around $3,000/year to maintain. Through innovative designs such as rock Plutons, bark, decomposed granite and concrete surfacing, slow growing trees and native grasses, maintenance crews can now clean the area much faster and spend less time per year on maintenance.
The alternative design which utilizes standpipes as tree wells offers numerous shaded seating areas allowing multiple users to have their “own space”. This has significantly created the feeling of a much larger park in a smaller area. The cost effective design allows crews to quickly clean between the standpipe tree wells without having to travel a great distance to reach all areas of the park or to have to use mowers, edgers and blowers. Being that Dry Creek Trailhead is a relatively small park with an open design, park users still feel safe while enjoying their own environment.
Clovis Engineering Division
1033 Fifth Street, Clovis, CA 93612
Open 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. M-F