Friday, August 12, 2016

Search for Big Sandy Wildlife Area through San Miguel's Back Roads

Wild Goose Chase In Search of Big Sandy Wildlife Area


I spent a lot of time on San Miguel's back roads yesterday afternoon looking for Big Sandy Wildlife Area. It's not all that easy to find the entrance on a map. It was hard enough to find Indian Valley Road, from which the parking lot is supposed to be entered, if you can believe the web page for Big Sandy Wildlife Area.  I tried calling the phone number on that site, but it didn't work. I wasn't even sure  if  when I found it the area would be open for access, since nowhere online could I find any hours. (As you will see below, I did  finally find a working number, and also learned there are no set hours for access.)

This intersection is where I should have started looking very carefully. Sometimes it was hard to tell a ranch driveway from a road.   I did see one closed gate that could have been the entrance, but it didn't look quite right. Too bad they don't have a photo of the entrance on the web site. (See link to Google Map a few paragraphs under this)

Search for Big Sandy Wildlife Area through San Miguel's Back Roads
Intersection of Indian Valley and  Vineyard Canyon Roads, © B. Radisavljevic 

It's a shame I didn't have this map with me.



I had an interesting drive all the way to Bradley on Indian Valley Road, Hare Canyon, and Bradley Road, but I didn't find Big Sandy. I must have driven right by it without seeing it. I think I did see it, just not the entrance. There were signs for everything else, but not Big Sandy Wildlife Area -- unless the government hid them well. By the time I reached these signs at Hare Canyon, I knew I'd been on a wild goose chase and the goose got away -- this time.



Search for Big Sandy Wildlife Area through San Miguel's Back Roads
Signs Near Intersection of Indian Valley and Hare Canyon Roads,  © B. Radisavljevic. If you have reached this, you are far past the parking lot for Big Sandy Wildlife Area.

I finally reached someone in Fresno today at  (831) 649-2870 who walked me through a map on Google earth over the phone. We kept enlarging the map until we found the parking lot -- at least on the map. This is a link to where the parking lot is and what it looks like. Wish I'd had it yesterday. I also learned there are some yellow signs all along the fence of the parking lot. 

I learned that this is hunting season there and that it would help to wear orange if I do back before it's over. They allow only shotguns and archery as weapons. Evidently the main game are quail and hogs. I only want to use my camera. Maybe I'll try again on the next moderately cool day.

What I  Saw While on My Wild Goose Chase


I found cattle and horses grazing on the many ranches I passed, but no geese. You can see how dry the hillsides are.

Here are some of the cattle.

Search for Big Sandy Wildlife Area through San Miguel's Back Roads
Cattle at Ranch on Indian Valley Road, © B. Radisavljevic


Search for Big Sandy Wildlife Area through San Miguel's Back Roads
Steer at Ranch on Hare Canyon Road or Bradley Road, © B. Radisavljevic


These horses were gorgeous.

Search for Big Sandy Wildlife Area through San Miguel's Back Roads
Horses on Indian Valley Road, © B. Radisavljevic


With all the animals to feed, there had to be hay, and I passed lots of it. 

Search for Big Sandy Wildlife Area through San Miguel's Back Roads
Hay Seen Along Indian Valley Rd., © B. Radisavljevic. Photo size ideal for Pinterest

Hare Canyon Road

As I wrote earlier, when I got to the signs at Hare Canyon Road, I knew I had gone too far north. I decided to head back to the 101 Freeway, so I turned  west on Hare Canyon. Right after I turned I saw this contrast between irrigated and land with no irrigation. I passed very few irrigated acres. 

Search for Big Sandy Wildlife Area through San Miguel's Back Roads
Irrigation on Hare Canyon Road, © B. Radisavljevic

As it turns out, I circled all around the Big Sandy Wildlife area without realizing it. Hare Canyon curves around it before connecting to Bradley Road in Bradley, which is where I eventually got back on the freeway.  It was not a smooth ride. At one point the road was so narrow  I almost went over the edge, and I was only at a moderate speed, probably about 40 mph. Fortunately there was no embankment to drop off, but it was still scary. 

Somewhere along Hare Canyon I passed some deer. I would have liked to have photographed them, but there was no good place to park.  Both Hare Canyon and Bradley roads were almost deserted. I didn't see any other car on them while I was there. I finally could see the bridges crossing the Salinas River in Bradley up ahead. 

Search for Big Sandy Wildlife Area through San Miguel's Back Roads
Railroad Bridge in Bradley Over Salinas River by Gate to National Guard Base,  © B. Radisavljevic 

The Salinas River was dry, so I decided to photograph the graffiti on the pillars under the bridge on Bradley Road. It was more interesting than the bridge view from the road.


Search for Big Sandy Wildlife Area through San Miguel's Back Roads
Graffiti under Bridge on Bradley Road,  © B. Radisavljevic 

I took one last photo near the bridge before I got back in my car and headed home. It had been a long afternoon. It was about ten degrees hotter in this area than it was back in Paso Robles. Every time I got out of the car to take a picture I almost could feel the moisture leaving my body. I was looking forward to sitting in my chair with a large glass of ice water.

Search for Big Sandy Wildlife Area through San Miguel's Back Roads
A Tree Near the Bridge in Bradley, © B. Radisavljevic 


Have you ever driven the back roads of San Miguel and Bradley? Have you ever been to the Big Sandy Wildlife Area? If so, did you find it easily?

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