Spring tends to kick off early in Fresno County with a fast-and-frenzied spectacle of blooming fruit and nut trees. Starting in mid-February and lasting only about three weeks, the Fresno County Blossom Trail, made up of the county’s orchards, is festooned in rosy sprays of peach and nectarine petals, pink bouquets of apricot blossoms, and white blazes of almonds, plums, and apples. Drivers, bicyclists, and photographers can revel in the flowery glory on this colourful 62-mile loop southeast of Fresno.
Start your trip at Simonian Farms, a 1901 fruit stand run by the Simonian family for four generations. Its massive red barn encloses a model Western town complete with saloon, church, barber shop, and schoolhouse. Wander among their collection of vintage tractors, restored gasoline pumps, and antique balloon-tire bikes. (Look overhead—they’re suspended from the ceiling.) Before you leave, pick up a Blossom Trail driving map plus a few bags of French burnt peanuts and dried nectarines.
Driving clockwise, you’ll soon reach the Blossom Trail Cafe, where diners in cosy booths feast on pancakes and huevos rancheros. In tiny Centerville, stop at the Fruit Station for local honey and preserves. Or just keep heading east: The farther you go, the more vivid the scenery. When the photo gods are smiling, the snow-clad Sierra Nevada glows white in the background as golden yellow mustard blooms beneath the fruit tree canopy. (While searching for the perfect photo op, remember to park safely off the road and respect private property.)
Just beyond the tiny hamlet of Minkler, make a choice: Turn right on Frankwood Avenue or extend your loop through Orange Cove, following the neighbouring Orange Blossom Trail to white-flowered lemon and orange groves. (Roll down your car windows to sniff the unforgettable aroma of citrus flowers.) Heading south on Frankwood Avenue, stop at Cedar View Winery, an ideal photo stop with acres of almond, nectarine, and peach blossoms. While there, sample the vineyard’s tempranillo and learn about the rare Alicante Bouschet grape.
Either road will eventually lead you to Reedley, where your kids can ride a miniature steam train (yes, it’s real steam) around Hillcrest Farm’s peach and plum orchards. The owners design and build their own fanciful locomotives, train cars, and track.
Perfect timing is key to the Blossom Trail’s best petal-viewing, so check its website for daily updates. Wait too long and the trees’ flowers will have fluttered to the ground, soon to be replaced by a bounty of summer fruit. Indeed, if you miss the spring blossom season, try driving the same exact route from May to September, when it morphs into the Fresno County Fruit Trail. You’ll be able to stop at dozens of seasonal produce stands along the route.
California’s heartland offers up one of the state’s most authentic and sensory rich experiences, a chance to see and taste the state’s bounty at every turn. Follow oak shaded country roads to farm stands overflowing with fresh produce and meander along wine trails to some of the state’s most productive vineyards and low key tasting rooms.
Peaches, plums, apricots, and tomatoes. Just some of the ultra fresh produce you will find at farm stands throughout the valley.
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