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Stories from the valley

Knights Ferry: Perfect Picnicking in a Historic Venue

Contributed by Carl Gwyn

Knights Ferry Recreation Area, which boasts the longest covered bridge west of the Mississippi, has to be one of the best places for a picnic I have ever visited. The recreation area straddles the Stanislaus River and is a great destination for a day’s outing now or as the weather turns warmer.

My family and I visited the park on a recent spring day and were impressed with the beauty and history of the site. After driving through the rolling green foothills that are just beginning to be dotted with wildflowers, we arrived in Knights Ferry. This quaint Gold Rush-era town has many original buildings dating back to the 1850’s.

Just beyond the town lies the recreation area, with the 330-foot long covered bridge that was opened in 1863 as its centerpiece. Wonderful views of the bridge and the river are available from several picnic areas scattered around, which have tables tucked beneath an assortment of shade trees.

At the west end of the bridge, ruins of the historic mill (later a power station), the mill’s office, and the ruins of a warehouse make for some nice exploring. The park also has a visitors’ center, hiking trails, and opportunities for rafting.

If you would prefer to eat out rather than picnic, The River’s Edge restaurant in the heart of Knights Ferry offers standard American food and has a 4.5-star rating on TripAdvisor. After your meal, you might feel the town beckoning you to take a self-guided walking tour, an experience you’re sure to enjoy.

Knights Ferry is a wonderful spot year ’round. For more information on the area, please click here.