I first, briefly, wrote about the Santiago Creek Bike Trail, in Santa Ana, and Orange, Ca., in March 2009, on my bike blog, then more extensively in the spring of 2010, on this blog, as part of a month long challenge I learned about from my friend, Randy Eady, who sent me a heads up about a fascinating exercise being encouraged by the Kamana Naturalist Training Program, and the Wilderness Awareness School.
It is called the 30-Day Sit Spot Challenge, and was from April 10 to May 10, that year.
I spent all month in the only section of the Creek trail that existed, between Main St. on the west, and Tustin Ave. on the east, and took many photos that accompanied the daily, thought provoking, and personal, essays I wrote, related to the writing prompts for each day.
That adventure had an unexpected ending as, a few days before it ended I had a seizure at work, and it was a few days before I was able to finish the challenge.
The beginning = Can You Sit in the Same Spot for 20 min., for 30 Days Straight?
Recently I discovered that, in the year since I broke my ankle, the city of Orange had, at last extended the trail eastward, along the creek, into Villa Park, connecting with the dirt trail into Santiago Oaks Regional Park. (Map of the full 8 miles of paved trail, and unpaved section, available here)
I sallied forth to check it out, camera in tow. :-D
The trail begins west of this spot, on the other side of Main St., where Broadway dead ends at the Main Place Mall.
This section is also used by cars to reach a parking area near a small playground & picnic area that is overrun with squirrels.
The trail then heads east to Hart Park, and once past the park eventually reaches Tustin Ave.
From Tustin Ave. you ride past the varied natural environment of the trail ecosystem, and Yorba Park, go over a bridge to the other side, and reach another bridge to change sides again, at Grijalva Park.
Depending on the season the creek can get flooded with water.
The varied Duck population, as well as a surprising variety of other water fowl, is a year round part of the scene.
Eventually you reach the Santiago Creek Recharge Basin, and the trail takes you along Prospect, and Bond St.....
With the basin hidden along the Bond St. stretch....
Before viewing it again along Hewes St.
The Hewes section dead ends at Villa Park Ave., where the trail picks up across the street, heading east along Santiago Canyon Rd.
Turning left at Cannon St. the trail soon ends, on the left, in a small parking lot next to the creek.
From here the cyclist has several options (With links to my old picture filled reports on 2 Bike Trails).
1. Return the way one came.
2. Continue east, and south, along Santiago Canyon Rd., to the Mountains to the Sea Trail, off Jamboree, at Santiago Community College.
3. Head north on Cannon, beyond the creek, turn left on Taft, to head back to Main St., and south back to your start.
4. Head north on Cannon, until it becomes Imperial Highway, and you can connect with the Santa Ana River Bike Trail, which will take you west, & south, back into Orange.
5. Just on the north side of the creek, on the east side of Cannon, is the entrance to a narrow, mostly smooth, dirt extention of the Santiago Creek Trail that leads to Santiago Oaks Regional Park, and continues into the park, quite some distance.
I chose option 5, but found that, just as you are about to venture into the Regional Park, there is a problem. :-D
Mountain Bikers, especially, will adore this trail, more so once they reach the park. :-D
Along Mabury Ave. trail users find themselves passing expensive homes, and even a gated community of really expencive homes, with its own entrance onto the trail, which sort of defeats the purpose of the gated entrance to the neighborhood. :-D
One gets really close to nature along this trail, a taste of what one would experience in the Regional Park.
The closer I got to the park the more people, both individuals, and families with kids, I encountered coming from that direction, all on foot.
No bikes, and I soon learned why. :-D
Just beyond my bike is a partially hidden sign warning of Poison Ivy along a narrow path.
The official trail heads to the left....down a short, but narrow, rocky, path, that people assurred me would smooth out as one entered the park...
Not being interested in rebreaking my right ankle, or making it a matching pair by breaking the left....I decided against carrying my bike, unaided, along this section of the trail. :-D
Aren't you proud of me, and my restraint, and common sense, dear reader? :-D
For the person who makes it into the park there is Serrano Ave. which will take the cyclist west, back to Cannon.
Here is a very good, detailed, discussion, with photos, of the Creek Trail, with photos, as found on Trail Link.
The Santiago Creek Greeway Alliance has a petition, with 667 signatures (Mine is #667!), in support of the idea of completing one last, westward section of trail, from Broadway to Fisher Park.
The importance of this is that, once at the park, a cyclist can ride north on Flower St., a couple of blocks, to a Class 2 Trail, west along Memory Lane, to the Santa Ana River Bike Trail.
This would turn the already completed 8.5 mile trail into a 9.7 mile ride with a major connection to the premiere trail in the county.
****UPDATE - 5/29/12****
I get comments, and sometimes they deserve the spotlight....
So it was you that I saw standing at a tree one afternoon on the Santiago Creek trail!
I thought you were a birdwatcher.
It's actually Santiago Greenway Alliance working with US, Neighbors 4 Trail, to get this last 1/4 mile complete in Santa Ana for the safety of all people on foot or bikes.
For all of the facts visit our website.
I just came from visiting the site, and it is a great collection of pages, combining the written word, maps, and photos, to clearly, powerfully, make the case for completing the "Missing Link", the 1/4-mile gap located in the Santiago Creek, between the 5 Freeway underpass and Flower Street, at Fisher Park.
That there are actually opponents to this boggles the mind, but this is Santa Ana, so what else is new?
The Floral Park Neighborhood is one of the oldest, and most beautiful, neighborhoods in the city, and very affluent.
3 alternative routes, not connected to the creek, are proposed by opponents, as maps on the site show.
All 3 take cyclists, on roundabout trips through different parts of the residential neighborhood, and would require disruptive street construction, and the addition of Class 2 Trails on the streets involved.
Using the creek means using City Owned Property, and Public Right-of-Way, thus causing the least disruption to the neighborhood as a whole.
A cleaned up, beautified, creek trail, would be a benefit to the community, the city, walkers, and cyclists, and the resulting traffic would not ruin anyone's sleep, or mid-day nap, and not be a crime magnet.
The creek, in its current condition, IS a magnet for criminal elements, and the homeless, and of absolutely no positive benefit to anyone.
As much as I enjoy a jaunt thru Floral Park on my bike (I saw a half-dozen of the Spandex Crowd, pedaling ahead of me, on my way to start my own ride for this story.), I'd be much happier if the creek trail was extended to Fisher Park.
Glenn Frank's excellent video about the opponents, and their misguided effort to "Save Our Creek!" is as informative, as it is amusing, as it shows the protestors marching, and chanting, shows images of the brushed clogged, trash filled, graffiti ruined, creek these NIMBY's are claiming to want to "save", and shows a few related maps, discussing the alternative routes these people would prefer.
Hey, Ron Salem, & friends, you want to save your precious 1/4 mile of creek?
Add it to the beautiful, family friendly, bike, and hike, trail!
Or, do you REALLY prefer gangbangers, graffiti artists, other criminals, and the homeless, so close to your homes?
Visit Neighbors 4 Trail for more information, links, and stories, and to sign the petition, or become involved in other ways.