The San Diego Creek Trail is the spine of the City of Irvine's extensive system of trails and bike lanes. It begins in Newport Beach, joining the Upper Bay Trail near where San Diego Creek empties into Upper Newport Bay at the Jamboree Road bridge, then follows the creek upstream, crossing much of Irvine before it ends near the junction of Interstate 405 and State Route 133.
Along the way, the trail provides access to a number of parks, retail centers and residential subdivisions. Many of Irvine's shorter trails also touch or cross the San Diego Creek Trail at some point, allowing you to put together all sorts of loop trips. These include the University Trail, Freeway Trail, Peters Canyon Trail, Harvard Trail, Woodbridge Trail and Jeffrey Open Space Trail.
Access to the San Diego Creek Trail is best done by using the most convenient of the numerous community or regional parks as a trailhead. Many will start their journey at the Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve Interpretive Center on University Drive, southeast of Irvine Avenue in Newport Beach. A small parking fee may be charged. From the parking lot, head east on the Upper Bay Trail and south over the Jamboree Road bridge to reach the San Diego Creek Trail.
At about the halfway point, you will find Bill Barber Community Park at the corner of Barranca Parkway and Harvard Avenue. The park is a full-service pit stop with parking, drinking fountains, restrooms and picnic shelters.
Farther east along the creek is Windrow Community Park at the corner of E. Yale Loop and Barranca Parkway, but the park closest to the eastern end of the trail is Valley Oak Park, situated right where Valley Oak Drive crosses the creek.