Learning in Lithia Park

    Volunteer guides who lead the free Lithia Park Tour actually make note of when locals show up.

    Most often, the group is composed of curious visitors and just the occasional Ashlander who may already know that our crown-jewel park was designed in 1908 by horticulturist John McLaren, San Francisco's Golden Gate Park superintendent for a half-century.

    No matter what you already know or where you're from, the leisurely tour is a great way to get a closer look at Lithia Park.

    The tour starts by the Plaza in the shade. Your guide will show some pictures of historic Ashland and give you one of a handful of esoteric facts. (Did you know snowberries, those little white berries that grow abundantly in the park, are toxic?)

    Then your guide will take you on a meandering walk up to the tennis courts. The tour covers a half-mile and takes an hour-and-a-half to complete. It leads you to both duck ponds and past the band shell. There is a stop at a fountain where you can sip the odd-tasting Lithia water.

    Even locals who think they know everything about every square inch of the park can learn something from the tour. Another rarely known fact: The site was once a Shasta Indian village.

    The tour group meets at 10 a.m. by the entrance of Lithia Park, next to the lower duck pond, on Saturday, Sunday, Wednesday and Friday, from May through September.

    Amelia Covert Zeve, 13, lives in Ashland and attends Willow Wind Community Learning Center.

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