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Irvine's Jeffrey Open Space Trail, currently open in three disconnected segments, has won awards for its landscaping and innovative design incorporating a series of intaglio panels in the concrete bed of the trail. The panels take you through a 500-year history of the Irvine Ranch area.
The paved trail parallels Jeffrey Road among a suburban landscape of neighborhoods, shopping plazas and, as the name suggests, open space. At Bryan Avenue (Long Meadow), it links with the Venta Spur Trail. There's a break in the trail between Interstate 5 and the next short segment, which intersects the Walnut Trail adjacent to an active rail line.
At Barranca Parkway, the third and final segment picks up again and heads south to I-405. Along the way, connections to the San Diego Creek Trail and Freeway Trail increase the trail's utility. Near the trail's southern end, cross over the freeway on a pedestrian bridge and link with the Juanita Moe Trail heading east or the popular University Trail heading west.
From either Interstate 405 or Interstate 5 in Irvine, take the Jeffrey Road exit and head north up Jeffrey Road to the intersection of Trabuco and Jeffrey roads. There is a shopping plaza on the corner here where you can park. Alternatively, go to Woodbury Community Park (130 Sanctuary), 0.32 miles southeast of the trail on the Venta Spur Trail. It has parking, drinking fountains and restrooms.
We loved it! We took our 4 kids on our bikes, we started up at the intersection of Encore and Jeffrey and flew down! Kids loved the "offroad" trails. Wide open bike paths perfect for families. AND THEN... we turned around at the 5 and make our way back up to Encore! Tough trek if you don't have major quads!! So fun though! Beautiful! Well kept!
TrailBear on the Jeffrey Open Space Trail (JOST) …
@@@ A SECOND LOOK…
TrailBear surveyed this trail in 2010 for TrailLink and moved on. It was a lush trail, but a bit short. There was one under-arterial tunnel. Other trails beckoned.
Der Bear remained in happy ignorance until a new TrikeBoy video arrived on his phone. Hey! They are riding the Jeffrey. But what is this? Two tunnels? Three ped bridges? Increased mileage? Someone has been spending lots of $$$ on the trail. Time for a second look.
@@@ WHAT IS THE “JOST”?
Irvine has a lot of nice Class 1 bike trails - now north of 50 miles of them. It’s a great town to ride in. There is nice and there is the JOST - North. It is lush. It is spacious. It has Budget.
It celebrates all things Irvine: the man, the ranch, the company, the city. It is a happy “We be good!” trail. About 16’ wide, lushly landscaped, full trail lighting, nice fieldstone restrooms (locked on this Saturday – go figure).
It is laid out as a time line starting at the high end at Jeffrey and Portola Pkwy. At this point you are in the 1500s. As you proceed down the trail the time line advances: Spanish rule, the rancho era, James Irvine and partners buying up land cheap from bankrupt ranchos, the Irvine Ranch era, the Irvine Company era, the city of Irvine.
Historical notes are provided by concrete panels set athwart the trail at intervals. The early ones at the south end are done in intaglio. The recent ones at the north end are done in colored tiles. Start at the trail end on Portola and you can walk through time.
The north end is also the high point of the trail. You can look out over Irvine and remember that in the ‘60s the Irvine Company owned north of 900,000 orange trees where you now see condos, apartments, homes, malls, industrial and office parks and other trappings of civilization.
@@@ A TALE OF TWO TRAILS…
The JOST comes in two bits with a mile and a half of sidewalks, bike-walks and bike lanes in between.
JOST - North runs from Portola Pkwy. down to Interstate 5. There it curves to run along the freeway to Sand Canyon Rd. Google calls this bit the Cypress Village Trail. At Sand Canyon there is another trail running up the street to Portola Pkwy.
You can make a loop ride of this if you don’t mind a bit of bike lane on Portola and lots of on-grade crossings while going up Sand Canyon. You can tell you are not on the JOST. The “lush” is absent. No $$$$$$ bike bridges for you. Wait at the light. There are a lot of them.
JOST-South runs from the junction of Jeffrey Rd. and Barranca Pkwy. south 0.8 miles to cross the 405 freeway on a bike/ped bridge to join with two trails on the far side. On the way it crosses the San Diego Creek Trail giving you connections for various loop rides.
JOST-Center is not there yet. From JOST-North you cross the I-5 freeway on the sidewalks, betting your life in the process. How fast are those cars in the on-ramp coming? Can you get across that lane before one gets you.
Once over, you see that there are no sidewalks ahead. You have to cross to the west side of Jeffrey to pick up assorted sidewalks (4’ wide) and bike walks (8-12’ wide) that will take you 1.5 miles south to join JOST-South. This part is NOT a family ride. The other option is to take to the bike lane and trust your life to texting drivers. Good luck with that.
Finding a trailhead on JOST-North can be a bit of a bother. TrailBear selected the Cypress Village Shopping Center at Jeffrey and Roosevelt as his urban trailhead. Cross Jeffrey, get on the trail and there you go. For another choice there is on-street parking and access at the area called the Great Lawn. Down by the I-5 is the Cypress Community Park with a parking lot, ball fields and facilities.
JOST-South has an excellent trailhead with parking and facilities at Windrow Community Park on the San Diego Creek Trail just off Jeffrey.
@@@ RIDING THE JOST-NORTH…
From the south you are climbing up to Portola Pkwy. Three bike bridges and two tunnels mean you don’t have to stop for lights. You can enjoy stopping to read the information stations as you go. Then you are on the heights at Portola Pkwy, looking over what once was a rancho, then a ranch, now a city growing. Head south, put the hammer down and enjoy a fast trip back.
Some day they will finish JOST-Center and we can enjoy a ride from Portola down to the 405 to hook up with the trails there. At the south end the JOST ends at the junction of the University and Quail Hill Trails. Further north it has junctions with the San Diego Creek and the Walnut Trails. Further north yet the Venta Spur Trail ends across Jeffrey. Think: Loop rides. There they are for your enjoyment. Irvine is a great place to ride.
Trying to cross over the I-5 and live to tell about it.
Before we knew it we had walked 2.5 miles in each direction. Would have been fun to bike; a wide paved path, although there were smaller, non bike paths here and there.
Please take note of the parking (or lack of it). You need to park at the shopping center above which is sort of in mid trail because there really is nowhere else.
This is a bit different for a bike trail. It’s also a history trail.
At intervals down the trail inset intaglio panels present various aspects of ranch history. If you start at the upper end at Jeffrey and Irvine Blvd. and ride south, you trace the history of the Irvine Ranch starting with the Mexican Rancho era on the north end and ending with the military bases on the ranch from 1914 to the Ligher Than Air station and El Toro Marine Corps Air Station. In between are panels covering such themes as: The JI Ranch – 1864-1876, The Irvine Ranch – 1886-1894, The Railroad arrives – 1887, Myford becomes Irvine, the General Store – 1911-12, The Need for Water – 1890-1961, Michelson’s Measurement – 1921.
It would make a nice family ride. It’s a high speed trail – but only connects to the Venta Spur – which is distinctly low speed. When the whole length is finished from Quail Hill to Portola and beyond, it will be busy.
The first time out, it’s hard to get up to speed. Soon as you are moving, you zip over another panel. Stop, back up, read the display. Reading the panels is not that easy. Getting a good photo of them is harder. You need the right light – and a broom. There is not much contrast between the surface and the inscription.
Take your time, read the exhibits, then go back and ride it straight thru. It’s a short mile ride across what was probably once a lima bean field or orange grove. One suspects the hills you see were put there. The surrounding land is flat as a table. They certainly did a nice job on the landscaping. Looks good from Google Earth. The trail moves in sweeping curves from one lawn to another while a decomposed granite jogging trail curves the other way in counterpoint. Something of a double helix.
There is a nice restroom of fieldstone with water, bench and bike rack at GE: 33.703686° -117.754061° in the upper third (“Great Lawn”) section. Trailside water and seating are on the other side of Bryan Ave. There is no parking associated with the JOST. We used the excellent Woodbury Community Park on the Venta Spur as the trailhead. It’s about 0.3 miles up Bryan Ave.
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