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The tiny desert town of Felicity, CA has quite the claim to fame. Felicity is the center of the world, as declared by the town’s founder, French parachutist Jacques-Andre Istel, after he was elected mayor in 1986 with a unanimous vote of 3-0. There doesn’t seem to be any scientific consensus on whether Felicity is the actual center of the globe or not, but both California’s Imperial County and the state of France recognize it as such, so who are we to argue?
The center is marked by a granite pyramid inscribed with the words "In Memory of Humanity", and a "Museum of History in Granite" has sprung up around this marker. Istel has added the original spiral staircase from the Eiffel Tower and constructed a beautiful Breton-Traditional church, as well as eighteen further pyramids commemorating everything from the History of Arizona to the History of the French Foreign Legion.
With no dog park and no community parks in town, you might be forgiven for thinking that Felicity isn’t the most fur-friendly place. Not to worry though -- there are plenty of parks in nearby Yuma, and it’s easier than you might think to find hiking trails in the desert. And if your four-legged pal needs to run free, don’t fret -- you’ll find plenty of off-leash adventure op-paw-tunities a short drive away!
You’ll need to cross the state line into Arizona to get to somewhere your buddy can lose the leash, but once they’re through the gates of Yuma Bark Park, you’ll be glad you made the trip! Located just a twenty-minute drive from Felicity in Yuma’s quiet, residential Palo Verde neighborhood, this pawesome park is huge -- there are a whopping three and a half acres for your furball to tire themselves out in. Fitter furry friends might appreciate the doggy agility equipment, and owners will be glad to know that there’s ample seating. Bags and water are provided, so just bring your pup and prepare to play!
Looking for a good, long walk? Look no fur-ther than the Yuma Crossing Bike Path! A converted railway line, the trail runs for about three and a half miles from Yuma’s East Wetland neighborhood to Gateway Park, with wonderful views of the Colorado River along the way. Careful, though -- as the name suggests, the trail is a popular bikeway, so look out for speeding cyclists! Afterward, be sure to stop in at Prison Hill Brewing Co. Their tri-tip steak salad is delicious, and they’re famously dog-friendly -- their outdoor patio has a waste bag station, and they’ll put out a bowl of water for your pooch on a hot day.
If your pooch likes hiking, you’d need to be barking mad not to bring them to Picacho State Recreation Area in Winterhaven! The scenery here is beyond compare -- stern desert landscapes full of colorful rock formations give way to the lush greenery of the Colorado River Valley, and rocky paths studded with bighorn cactus lead to the calm, serene Taylor Lake. The relatively flat Picacho Mills Historic Trail brings you through the history of an old gold mining town, and there are more challenging treks as well. The main drawback is the drive there -- half of the road from Winterhaven isn’t paved, so be prepared to go slowly.
Athletic animals looking for a challenge might want to try hiking Yuma’s Telegraph Pass! The inclines on this 5.5-mile loop trail vary from the merely difficult to the truly punishing, and the terrain can get quite rocky -- make no bones about it, this trek is not for the unsure of foot or the faint of heart. That being said, if you can handle the walk, you’ll be well rewarded -- the trail is lined by beautiful native wildflowers, and the panoramic view of Yuma from the top has to be seen to be believed. Remember to bring waste bags and plenty of water!
West Wetlands Park is a real mutts-visit! Situated in the historic riverside neighborhood of Casa del Rio, walking into this green space is like finding an oasis in the desert heat. This 110-acre park truly has something for everyone. Non-furry family members will certainly appreciate the two playgrounds and the castle maze, and it’s hard not to be impressed by the Butterfly and Hummingbird Garden. Your pooch might be a little more interested in the trails, though -- the park features miles of tree-shaded nature treks by the river. You might want to check out Centennial Beach, too!
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