Lynch Creek Trail

Owing to global warming, my readership continues to inch upwards. Yep, more and more Canadian readers.


I was gonna title this “An Occurrence At Lynch Creek Bridge” but held back owing to there being neither a bridge of that name nor an occurrence.  On the other hand, Lynch Creek figures prominently in my Petaluma life and deserves a post.

So let’s begin at the end, where it pours into the other side of the Petaluma River from me about 75 yards north of the Payran Street Bridge.  It was barely a trickle when i moved here last fall

Lynch Creet mouth, Sep 2015


but it looks great now thanks to our El Niño rains.

Lynch Creek mouth, April 2016


Here’s some ducks (Mallards?) at low water in the riverbed just off the creek.

Mallards? at the mouth of Lynch Creek


Lynch creek is paralleled by the eponymous graveled and well maintained trail, which actually extends beyond the mouth of the creek all the way south along the east side of the Petaluma River to the Lakeville Street Bridge, and i use this route almost daily to and from downtown.  I also use the trail frequently to go to points north of me like my audiologist, my dentist, my hospital, Skippy’s Egg Store, the McDowell Street Farmers’ Market, and Lola’s, the best panaderia i’ve found in Petaluma.  Ummm, well, at least the best bolillos, a Mexican delicacy akin to a truncated sweet baguette or the German Brötchen.  But wait, i was writing about the Lynch Creek Trail.

At the mouth of the creek, the Petaluma River takes a sharp left turn and runs to the northwest, leaving the creek to run pretty much straight ahead to the northeast.  A few yards above the mouth of the creek, there’s a bridge that transfers the trail over to the west side of the creek.

Lynch Creek bridge


From there, the trail, now paved, follows the creek under US-101, making it by far the shortest and easiest route to points in the city north of 101 between Washington Street all the way northwest to Corona Road.  Well, if you’re on a vehicle permitted on the trail.  Like me.

Besides, it’s a lovely route.

along the Lynch Creek Trail


Here we go under 101.

Lynch Creek Trail under 101


Some high school students last winter cleaning up the creek bed, which is something like a dozen feet below the level of the trail.

Lynch Creek cleaning


Looking back south from McDowell.

Lynch Creek Trail


At McDowell Blvd, you go left half a block to Lynch Creek Drive to cross the boulevard.  At that point, you have a choice.  You can continue straight ahead, paralleling the west side of the creek along the east edge of the hospital complex until you are forced a half block away from the creek as you approach Maria Drive.  The part alongside the creek is handsome enough, but a superior choice is to to go half a block east over the creek after you’ve crossed McDowell and pick up the trail, by now a sidewalk, on the east side of the creek along the north edge of Lucchesi Park, where i spotted this cottonwood tree in full bloom.

Populus fremontii, Fremont's Cottonwood


No, that is not snow on the ground.

Populus fremontii, Fremont's Cottonwood


The sidewalk, between the park to the east and the creek to the west, is a very enjoyable walk or ride, as the flora alongside the creek are rich and varied.

Lynch Creek Trail


Detail, not that i know what this tree is, but i’ve never seen leaves with such a striking color differential between the sides.

Lynch Creek Trail


And what is this small tree?  Answer provided by my faithful reader David:  California buckeye, Aesculus californica.

California buckeye, Aesculus californica



California buckeye, Aesculus californica


After you cross Maria Drive, you are again faced with choices. You can take the sidewalk along the west side of the creek bordering Flanigan Way, which is a very pleasant route since creek side is lush and there are substantial houses in the development to the west since this is a more upscale part of Petaluma.

Lynch Creek Trail


Alternatively, you can go along Maria Drive to the east and turn left onto Monroe Street in front of the Golden Livingcenter (sic), which is actually a nursing home/rehabilitation center.  I accidentally blundered onto the Yelp reviews of this place and found them fascinating since the reviews are all either five stars or one star, with nothing in between.  Either this place is god’s gift to the aged infirm or a hell hole, and frankly i’m guessing the latter.

Anyhow, at the end of the hell hole lot, there is a very narrow little sidewalk running off at 90 degrees to the west toward the creek

Lynch Creek Trail


and if you take this, you are treated to a delightful path along the creek between it and the back of a rather lavish development called Creekview Commons, which consists of townhouses packed like sardines fronting on Monroe Street and (mostly) on Creekview Drive.  We’re talking a lot of attention to the public landscaping here since townhouses have no yards, but there are bright green impeccably groomed lawns along the creek.

Lynch Creek Trail


At Sonoma Mountain Parkway, you get into the seriously rich region, where the houses are enormous

Sleepy Hollow Lane


and the lawns are broader and greener.  Well, see, when you cross a certain fiscal threshold, you become entitled to broad green lawns.  Drought, schmout.

Lynch Creek Trail


Also, up here the creekbed is fenced, perhaps to protect against the Creature from the Black Lagoon rising out of the creek, raping and pillaging through the homesteads, or maybe to prevent the help from escaping into the creekbed.  I can think of no plausible way these fences improve the experience of the creek for those who live in the enormous houses alongside it.


Lynch Creek Trail


This gets even weirder the more i think of it since a good deal of effort has been put into landscaping on both sides of the creek and the installation of two footbridges, wonderful amenities but with the fencing carefully in place right up to the railings on both bridges to make sure nothing bigger around than a gopher snake gets into or out of the creek.

Lynch Creek Trail


On the west side of the creek, the trail ends at the northern footbridge.  It continues north, unfenced, on the east side for a couple hundred yards along Prince Park.

Nice that it’s unfenced here, as this gives access to the blackberries, which grow in profusion alongside the creek at many points all the way to the mouth.  I look forward in a few weeks to making a couple of batches of Wild Lynch Creek Blackberry Jelly.

One of the 375 species in the Rubus genus


So if you wish to follow the creek toward its source, you must take a detour to the right to Washington Street, but i’ll save that for a future post and close this one with an observation on the folks i meet on the trail.

Lots of people use all parts of the trail, but i can make some generalizations.  The farther south you go, the more people you see.  And the farther north you go, the better dressed they are.  The portion that runs between McDowell Boulevard and downtown is by far the most heavily traveled since it not only has the usual complement of dog walkers and strollers but also has lots of people on bicycles who, like me, are clearly using the trail as a means of avoiding vehicular traffic on the streets while taking a shorter route.

One universal.  The overwhelming majority of people on the trail are friendly and greet others.  Hell, i sometimes stop to chat with folks, especially when we recognize each other as regular users.






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  1. David Ogden
    Posted 24 May 2016 at 12:31 | Permalink

    Q: And what is this small tree.

    A: California buckeye, Aesculus californica

    • Posted 24 May 2016 at 13:27 | Permalink

      To the rest of you readers: Get off your butts and help me identify flora and fauna like loyal David.

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