One of the pleasures of hiking/biking the canal is the various scents that pass by. The smell of campfires, hickory trees, or honeysuckle in the spring all add to the pleasure of a hike. Just after Labor Day, the paw paws become ripe and fall from the trees. You can always tell when you're passing through a patch of them from the fallen paw paws and their scent.
The paw paw fruit is a soft bean shaped fruit that tastes somewhat like custard. Because it is so soft, they're not a commercially grown fruit. The name may be a corruption of the word papaya.
What the California Rare Fruit Growers have to say.
The paw paw tree is not usually very tall and has large leaves that look like this.