This great trail shares a wide corridor with an active railroad line, a Burlington Northern Santa Fe route, through a section of Orange County known for producing oranges and strawberries. The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad line originally provided a vital link for transporting iron from the Midwest into the Los Angeles Area. In 1971 Amtrak assumed operation of the line, using it to transport passengers between Chicago and Los Angeles. Burlington Northern officially maintains the track and uses it for freight rail, in conjunction with the Amtrak and Metrolink passenger service.
The trail itself begins off Sand Canyon Avenue just south of the railroad tracks. This well-maintained, smooth-paved trail follows the tracks heading northwest. You will cut through a section of the lush Oak Creek Golf Club before reaching the intersection of Jeffery Road. An underpass here provides safe, uninterrupted trail travel. Beyond Jeffery Road, the trail passes comes to grassy Hoeptner Park, which is a nice spot to rest or have a picnic. From here the trail crosses some pleasant neighborhoods. There are access points all along the trail, making it a popular commuting route.
The trail passes underneath Yale Avenue and continues to busy Culver Drive, where a trail overpass carries you across the road. In addition, there are access points to the street and sidewalks if you need to connect to sections of town. The trail continues through Flagstone Park toward the end of the trail and provides a nice rest spot before making the final push. At Harvard Avenue the trail ends, but there are multiple connections here to bike lanes and other small trails to other parts of the city and region.
Parking and Trail Access
To reach the Sand Canyon Avenue trailhead, take the Sand Canyon Avenue Exit from Interstate 5. Go west on Sand Canyon Avenue for 0.5 mile and across the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) Metrolink Railroad tracks. The trail is on the right (west) and is marked by a sign that reads WALNUT TRAIL. There is no parking at this endpoint, but you might find on-street parking along Oak Canyon Road, which is about 100 yards west of the trail.
To reach the Harvard Avenue endpoint, take the Culver Drive Exit from Interstate 5. Take Culver Drive west for 0.5 mile to Walnut Ave. Turn right (north) on Walnut and go 0.5 mile to Harvard Avenue. Go left (west) on Harvard for 0.5 mile, crossing the OCTA Metrolink tracks to the trail, which is marked here also with a WALNUT TRAIL sign. There is limited on-street parking here and on nearby neighborhood streets.
CONSTRUCTION UPDATE - NOV. 2011 - Overpass Open
The Jeffrey Rd. overpass on the Walnut Trail is open. The barriers are gone. There is a sign at the far side about the trail being closed until 2014 (???) but you can ride over the bridge and down past the golf course - to find a fence across the trail ...
CONSTRUCTION UPDATE: Not yet, but close.
It has been about a year since I last visited the Walnut Trail (City of Irvine name) to find that it was blocked at Jeffrey Road while they build a vehicular underpass beneath an active RR line.
Today, while testing a new Terratrike Rover X-5 on the ...
To the City of Irvine - it's the Walnut Trail
RTC has this as the AT&SF on their maps. It was part of that system. It appears to be one of two developed rail trails in town, the other being the Venta Spur. Any more out there?
But, the signage says Walnut Trail and the "City of Irvine: Named Public ...