TRAILBEAR LOOKS FOR THE REST OF THE TRAIL – The Trabuco Creek Trail (East Bank)
Yet another sunny Saturday and another set of trails to explore – a pair of trails ascending Trabuco Creek in San Juan Capistrano – one on each bank. Ever since surveying the San Juan Creek Trail – and finding the upper end Boring, TrailBear has wondered what a SJCT/ Trabuco Creek ride would be like. Answer: Scenic, but short on the east bank, scenic and longer on the west bank.
SJC has a Lot of Trails. Most are horse & hiker & mountain biker trails as befits the “Equestrian Capital of the West”, but they go places and see things. The Trabuco trails are short, but they look like they lead into something better.
In fact, it looks like there might be a whole system of trails ascending Trabuco Creek from the confluence in San Juan Capistrano to the mountains to the northeast. The county trails map shows a horse & hiker & mountain biker trail, the Arroyo Trabuco Trail (normally graded “native surface” o.k.a. “dirt”) ascending the creek (O’Neill Regional Park) with some bits of Class 1 running parallel in places. San Juan Capistrano has similar trails ascending Trabuco Creek to their city limits. Something may be worked out – the Trabuco Traverse.
The first trail of the day is the blacktop bike trail going up the eastern bank of Trabuco Creek – the Trabuco Creek Trail – East Bank. Fitting name, isn’t it? We park down by City Hall and Descanso Park where San Juan and Trabuco Creeks meet.
San Juan Capistrano is unique in having a page of Virtual Trails. This is a Very Good Idea. They have run a crew with a video camera down all their trails and posted the videos on YouTube. You can select a trail and view what it looks like. You can ride the whole thing.
This is very helpful, but you also have to be on the ground to decode the video. After a day of exploring, TB can now decode the Trabuco Creek videos – which way they were traveling, what they left in and what they left out (about a mile of trail), etc. Now he knows which way he should have gone: Another half mile in this direction would have put you on that feature and you could have walked the cat backwards to figure out the route.
Let’s start the trail ride at the bottom end, at the end not shown in the videos, at…
DESCANSO PARK, 84’, GE: N33.49093 W117.66571
Here is Trail End South at Descanso Park, located behind City Hall on the confluence of the San Juan and Trabuco Creeks. When these are filled with water, it’s quite a sight. The San Juan Creek Trail runs over the bike bridge and past the end of the park. A portion is still closed while they work to install sheet pilings for flood protection. Here is why…
< < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ci-eO-oD6jY&feature=related>>
There probably is a reason the LARIO, the SGRT and the SART all have full concrete liners (and no blown levees). A cutting curve, a soft bottom and a flood = scouring = Run for the Hills! Instead, the TrailBear heads up the river. Ahead is the …
TRABUCO CREEK BRIDGE, 85’, GE: N33.49833 W117.66571
The trail crosses under the bridge to rise up and run along Paseo Adelanto as we enter the Historic Los Rios District. The Mission is over yonder, about two points on the starboard bow. You can see the dome. Ahead, at the junction of Adelanto and Ramos is something new…
LOS RIOS PARK, 103’, N33.50165 W117.66508
Los Rios is virtually brand new. They opened it in August of 2009. It’s a very well done project. There are picnic areas with armadas and vine, a nice tot lot, no grass, attractive benches – and lots of them, and a nice new restroom (4.5/5* on the Irvine Flushie Scale) with vines climbing up the pillars. Now, a vine covered restroom is something new.
The park is a delight and would have been the trail head du jour had only TB known it was there. Google Earth coverage from 2007 shows it as some sort of bare lot (RV storage). Things change. TB saddles up, heads up trail, around the curve and, in a moment, finds himself at…
TRAIL END NORTH, 114’, GE: N33.50397 W117.66721
Say what? The nice paved trail ends in a tiny two picnic table pocket park. Where is the rest of the trail? Onto the street. TB finds himself on a well signed Class 3 bike route (no bike lanes here) going somewhere. This is going to be a rather short review. Short trails do that. Well, OK. Pedal onward, following the signs.
We are at the bottom of one of the stable districts in SJC. This complex of three stables runs for 0.67 miles along the creek. TB pedals along on the street above. The route turns onto La Zanja and runs up to Camino Capistrano. No more signs visible.
WILL THE TRABUCO CREEK TRAIL RAISE ITS HAND?
There, at the intersection, TB pulls out his maps. He wants to follow Trabuco Creek. His map shows a trail behind the stables, but it’s not there. This route is headed inland. He wants Class 1. This is Class 3. Time to go poking around.
Head back down La Zanja and then along the road running by the stables. Up at the end at Oso Rd., he turns uphill to Camino Capistrano and takes the bike lane to where he can see the RR bridge. Not a good view, but there should be a trail there. Something there, behind fences.
What to do? Save it for a later day after more research. Lunch awaits at the Dana Pt. Yacht Club and there is the other side of the creek to do. Go back and survey the West Trabuco Creek Trail. It runs further and joins a number of trails out in the Wild Country on the west side of the creek. It ends in a three trail junction and one of the spurs appears to run to a ford across the creek down in the bottoms.
Back in the office, TrailBear starts digging through the SJC website. He finds a more accurate map hidden down some layers and over in the Public Works Department pages…
YOU WANT TO DOWNLOAD AND USE THIS MAP…
Go to this page and download the Multi Use Trails – Existing pdf. This IS NOT the map which comes up when you download their recreational trails map. That appears to be an earlier version and not as accurate as this. That was in TB’s saddle bag today. Now this one is.
This version does show the TCT-EB bike route and bike lane diversion to Camino Capistrano. It does show that there is not a creek trail alongside the stable district. It does show that a bit of trail along the creek does undercross the I-5 freeway to join a trail net on the far side.
TB knows this. After doing the West Trabuco, he drove up the road, parked and took the camera down to the crossing. One video starts down in this undercrossing. They pop out the far side and continue on down the creek. They ford the creek under the RR bridge. No idea how deep the ford. In one shot they are on the near side. Next shot, they are on the far side.
There appears to be trail running along the bank from the RR bridge at GE: 33.520271° -117.671358° down to Oso Rd. at GE: 33.515587° -117.671856°. You can see the crew riding along it. They come to a closed gate on Oso and in the next frame they are through it. Is it locked? Is there a bike opening? TB wants to know, but it’s time for the Annual Migration northward, so it may have to wait until fall.
WORKING OUT THE ROUTE…
If TrailBear’s review inspires you to get out there to solve the Riddle of the Trabuco Trail, try this…
Ride up the Class 1 portion from Descanso or stage out of Los Rios. Ride the street along the stable district to Oso Rd. Turn left and go to the bottom of Oso. If you can get onto the trail under the bank there, take it up to the RR bridge. If the ford is passable, you can ride up to the undercrossing at Camino Capistrano and the I-5 freeway.
If that does not work, go uphill on Oso to Capistrano and get on the bike lane. It will take you to the undercrossing. You can use it to come up on the other side and get on the Trabuco Ridge Trail. At the top of that, the county trail up Arroyo Trabuco should be just a few hundred feet over yonder. Now, to ride up there and “ground truth” what Google Earth shows. What the map giveth, the ground truthing taketh away.
WANT A LOOP RIDE?
There is a long bike trail on Rancho Viejo Rd. that heads down to San Juan Creek. (Many street and drive ways crossings.) A bit of road riding will put you on the SJCT and you can ride back to Descanso or Los Rios. Then post a review to TrailLink and tell us what you found and where.
In search of the rest of the trail.