On the first weekend of each month from May through September, Hagan Community Park has a very special treat: a miniature steam train ride. This ride is a good ten minutes long, and goes through a beautiful section of the park. But there’s more to Hagan Park: ponds, playgrounds, pools, petting barn, river access, sports fields, dog park—just about anything you can imagine a park having.
Since yesterday was during one of these special train weekends, we took the drive to Rancho Cordova and had a blast. We used a free parking lot at the west end of the park. Little did we know that the really good stuff was a fair hike from where we started. If I had to do it again, I’d pay the $5 regional park entry fee and drive to the other end (walking sounds like a good idea until you have to carry around a 35-pound toddler.)
(Click on any image below for a full-size slideshow.)
At first, the park looked pretty typical: a small pond full of algae with nary a duck, baseball diamonds, a community center, grass and trees.
We eventually found a playground for small tots in a grove of trees.
Theo and Daddy enjoyed the slide and swings together. This was the first time Theo was really able to stay on a big boy swing like this.
Hagan Park has sprawling ponds and creeks. The water is warm now, so algae thrives. This seems to provide an ideal place in which tadpoles can grow up. The photo below gives a small idea of the hundreds of tadpoles who must live in these waters right now.
In front of the dog park is a playground for older kids. Theo loves the playgrounds built for kids ages 5 to 12.
We wished we had thought to bring the little kite which is still unopened in the car. Behind this girl, who was having a great time, you can see the fencing for the dog park.
Further east, we finally found the big pond. It is really lovely, and it was chock full of Canada Geese with goslings. They pretty much ignored the rock-hard moldy biscuits someone else offered, in favor of our soft whole wheat bread.
The Petting Barn is (sadly) not open until Memorial Day. However, the animals are there to see and chat with through the fence.
This turkey was all worked up. He gobbled and huffed at Theo vigorously as he turned in circles.
This donkey was vocal too. We were drawn over to him by his braying.
Here comes the train! The miniature steam train cruises on interwoven , looping train tracks. The total ride is over a mile long through trees and scale models of railroad-themed buildings and equipment.
Much of the ride was shady.
Here we are approaching a memorial and a realistic train signal post.
A wild pheasant watched us pass. We saw deer while on the ride, too.
Near the train tracks is a series of small interconnected ponds. Daddy fished a live crayfish out of one and set it down for Theo to watch for a short while. The crayfish was happy to return to his watery home.
Theo’s very favorite activity is throwing rocks into water. The American River is best place for this, as many boys can surely agree.
The American River was gorgeous, as usual.
A few ducks were around. After this mallard couple landed, two more drakes (males) sauntered over and challenged this male for the hand of his apparent girlfriend.
Hey, Canada Geese. It’s nice and all for you both to care for the baby. And it’s nice that you’d don’t just fly off and expect him to follow you. But do you think you could slow down a bit when your little one is straining like mad—and peeping like crazy—to keep up with you while paddling upstream?
This is the lovely waterfall at the apex of the interlocking ponds.
On our way back to the car, Vlady spotted this Great Blue Heron. The bird was in the same pond where we had seen the tadpoles. Swim fast, baby frogs!