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The Santiago Creek Trail is a scenic urban ride up a portion of Santiago Creek northeast from the Westfield MainPlace Mall to Collins Avenue in Orange. From Collins Avenue, the trail heads south to parallel E. Prospect Avenue then picks up E. Bond Avenue to Hewes Street, north to Villa Park Road and east again to end just north of E. Santiago Canyon Road along Cannon Street.
There are numerous trees shading the trail, making it a pleasant and scenic place for a ride, run or walk. In addition, a spur heads north from the main trail near E. Walnut Avenue, ultimately paralleling N. Wanda Road to a terminus at the bike lanes on Villa Park Road in Villa Park, a small city completely surrounded by Orange. This part of the Santiago Creek Trail follows a portion of the former Tustin Branch, a Southern Pacific rail line that serviced the local orange-packing industry between 1905 and 1969.
Parking for the Santiago Creek Trail is available at W.O. Hart Memorial Park in Orange. From the Garden Grove Freeway (State Route 22), take Exit 15 (Glassell Street/Grand Avenue) in Orange. Drive north on S. Glassell Street just a few feet to the park entrance on the right.
I just started bike riding for exercise, having not done it for several years. This path is really good for beginners because it is relatively flat and there are benches along the way to rest. It passes through Hart Park and Santiago Park before ending at the south border of the Main Place Mall. My only complaint is that it is not longer and doesn't hook up to the Santa Ana River bike trail.
The Santiago Creek Trail in Orange is a fun ride with lots of interesting things along the way and it just got better. Now there is a new paved extension up the creek from Tustin St. to Cannon St., adding about four miles to the trail experience.
@@@ TAKE A VIDEO TRAIL TOUR, NEW AND OLD
Thanks to the efforts of DregerClock, you can take a trike tour of the old trail and the new extension. Look over his YouTube channel and you can find videos on most of the LA/OC trails and check them out at home first.
@@@ THE SPORTS CENTER AT GRIJALVA PARK, ORANGE, GE: N33.79376 W117.82150
Start at the new trailhead at the new Sports Center at the park. It is the large building by the creek. Hours vary. Week days it is open in the evenings. Weekends there are day hours. There are restrooms inside - the only ones on the trail extension. There are benches all around the building. There are water fountains outside. There is ample parking. There is a bridge and trail junctions here. They have done a nice job. Enjoy. If you make nice, the chap on the desk in the lobby can print you a trail map.
Wander down to the bridge. Time to get oriented. The bridge area is a junction of several trail segments and more. At the bridge the old blacktop leading upstream (NE) on the right (E, Sports Center) side of the creek is the trail northwards to the end.
When you cross the bridge, the trail to the left (new blacktop) leads down stream to join the old trail at Tustin St. Downstream a bit is a side trail into Walnut Ave. with access and on-street parking. The trail to the right (upstream) goes up to a locked gate on the Collins Curve. The trail coming down the hill is a new extension of an old trail – the Tustin Branch Trail – Wanda Road segment.
This was a Southern Pacific line that served the growers Back When – back when there were orange trees in Orange County and lemon groves on Lemon Heights rather than X million $$ homes. You can trace it on Google Earth. There is another developed section further south in Tustin.
These are neighborhood dog walker trails. These are too short to have much interest. If you live in the area, this trail will get you down to the Santiago Creek Trail – which is far more interesting. The rails crossed the creek by way of the new park, Back When.
Head for the top of the trail. Get on the old looking blacktop on the Sport Center side and ride upstream. When you reach the dam and spillway with a road on top (Collins Ave.) you have reached the Collins Curve. The trail goes under the road in a new ped underpass, then loops up to road level. You have now reached the…
@@@ THE RECHARGE BASIN, GE: N33.79877 W117.80917
“…new recharge basin on Santiago Creek. The District had purchased a 270-acre gravel quarry site on the creek in 1985, and it was to be supplied by a 4.5-mile pipeline from a 90,000-gpm pumping station at Burris Pit. The project, with a storage capacity of 14,000 acre-feet, began operation in the spring of 1990.”
The recharge basin looks like a small lake. It is a small lake. It is also a percolation basin for the Orange County Water District. According to the OCWD:
“After wastewater is treated at the Orange County Sanitation District, it flows to the GWRS where it undergoes a state-of-the-art purification process consisting of microfiltration, reverse osmosis, and ultraviolet light with hydrogen peroxide. The product water is near-distilled-quality. Approximately 35 million gallons (132,500 cubic meters) per day of the GWRS water are pumped into injection wells to create a seawater intrusion barrier. Another 35 million gallons (132,500 cubic meters) are pumped daily to Orange County Water District's percolation basins in Anaheim where the GWRS water naturally filters through sand and gravel to the deep aquifers of the groundwater basin.”
Think of that as you ride along the edge of the basin. When you turn onto E. Bond Ave. you ride along a wall with signs warning of the 20’ drop on the far side – just in case you were thinking of hopping the wall. There are several viewing windows in the wall with views of the lake. There is a drop.
From Bond St. you turn onto N. Hewes St. and ride up the side of the lake to Villa Park Rd. Here the trail crosses the street and rides along Villa Park Rd. for 0.34 miles to Cannon Rd. Left on Cannon and head for the …
@@@ TRAIL END AT CANNON ST., GE: N33.81448 W117.79543
This gravel parking lot by the side of the creek is the end of the paved portion. However, across Cannon St., over the bridge and up a bit (Lexington Ave. is too far), there is an unpaved segment of the Santiago Creek Trail which leads up the creek and into Santiago Oaks Regional Park. More miles to explore if you desire.
We are going to turn around at the Cannon St. trailhead/trail end and head back to the bike bridge at the Sports Center, then take the trail south. Back you go to the bridge and cross it. Turn left and ride. This is a pleasant ride along the bank of the creek with homes to the right and creek to the left. Coming up is a sharp bend with mirrors to see who is around the corner. In 0.6 miles you are at the …
@@@ CHAPMAN AVE. UNDERPASS & BRIDGE, GE: 33.787851 -117.829574
The trail dives under Chapman Ave. and goes to the dogs. Across the new bridge is Yorba Park (not to be confused with Yorba Regional Park – many miles further on). The Orange Dog Park is along the trail here.
Just down from the dog park is the Orange Y BMX facility with pump tracks and bleachers. Amazing what those kids can do on a bike or anything with wheels.
Head down the trail for a half mile and now you are on the old section which ended as S. Tustin St. Ride on, there is lots to see in this section. The old trail was a fun ride for the family and it got better with this new extension. Enjoy.
Cruising in comfort aboard his HPV Scorpion FS trike "Shackleton"
In December 2011, the City of Orange opened up a 8 mile extension of this creek bike path from Tustin Ave up the the Reservoir on Collins and then around the Reservoir on Bond and Hewes and then up the Canyon Road to Santiago Oaks Regional Park. The Santiago Creek Greenway alliance (www.santiagogreenway.org) has an online petition that anyone in OC can sign to finish this trail going West from under the 5 Fwy along the Creek for 0.25 miles to Fisher Park on Flower. From there you can ride on the new Class 2 Trail on Memory to SART.
By completing this, we will have a 10 mile bike/walkway trail along the creek and have all the neighborhoods connected together.
This also creates regional 40 mile bike beltway (This creek trail connects the SART to the Mountains to the Sea Trail. Please log on and sign this petition. The City of Santa Ana is in the process of updating their Master Bikeways plan.
The City is making progress on the trail extension above Tustin St. When done the trail will extent up to the reservoir on Bond Ave. if not further. They are hoping to be finished by May 2011.
There is a newly blacktopped leg from the creek up to Collins Ave. & Wanda Rd. along the right of way of the old Red Cars. Across the street there is an existing bit of trail on the Red Cars ROW - the Tustin Branch Trail - Wanda Rd. The next segment of this trail is about 2.1 miles south - well beyond the SCT.
Down on the creek the paving now extends from Collins Ave. down almost to Chapman Ave. x 55 Freeway.
There are to be two bridges - one linking the trail to Yorba Park and another linking it to the current trail.
The current trail, while short, is interesting. Lots of see along the route. Another two miles will be very welcome.
Santiago Creek Bike Trail, Orange, CA.
Trails are where you find them. This adds interest to the sport of Trail Hunting.
The TrailBear fell over this trail by accident. He was driving west on the Garden Grove Freeway, looked right at the just right time and caught a glimpse of a bike bridge. Bike bridge; bike trail? Bears some looking into.
Back in the office he brought up Google Earth and started looking for bike bridges along the 22. Yes, there is one next to Glissell at Hart Park in Orange. There is a blacktop trail along the creek. The plot thickens!
Start looking up and down the creek. It looks like a trail runs from the I-5 up to Tustin St. and E. La Veta. Start a Google search on strings like “city of orange bike trails, Santiago creek bike trail, etc.” A lot of good information comes up.
Orange has well organized information and maps on their bike trails. This one is the Santiago Creek Bike Trail. Even better, they are working on extending it and plan to be building in 2010 and 2011. In a few years the trail should extend up past the reservoir at Collins and E. Bond Ave. The bit of trail along the base of the reservoir is now finished and open. What remains to be done includes the section between the current trail end and the reservoir. Stay tuned. It should be a great urban stream ride when done.
The current length is about 2.8 miles. It starts beneath the I-5 freeway at 153’ and ends just past the Tustin St. bridge on the upper end at 226’. There are a lot of shade trees, a semi-wild creek bottom, interesting facilities along the way, the smell of pine on the warm afternoon air.
You get the idea – nice urban creek ride and good for the family. Not a high speed or long distance trail, but not boring, either. There are new things around each bend. Take your time and enjoy.
There are two parks along the trail, assorted restrooms and a number of access parking/trail head options. You have choices. Check them out on the map.
UNDER THE BRIDGE, 154’, GE: N33.77174 W117.87107
Think: Three Billy Goats Gruff.
The official start of the trail is beneath the I-5 freeway bridge over Santiago Creek. There the blacktop trail ends at a chain. Overhead, the roar of freeway traffic. Ahead is a wild looking stream bank and a narrow foot trail along the rip rap bank. Is there hope that the City of Santa Ana will continue this trail down to the Santa Ana River Trail and make it a great ride? Nope. TB looked on their bike map. Not even a “proposed” line.
Are there trolls under this bridge? Not when Der Bear was there, but it’s a dead end ambush alley and the roar of the traffic ensures that “no one will hear your screams.” You can give it a pass or enter with caution and at a slow bell.
There is really no need to enter at all. Topside there is a short side path to the Main Place Shopping Center on Main Place Dr. You can use the mall as your commercial trail head. Parking, shopping and probably better restrooms than you find in these parks; what is not to like? Start riding upstream. There will be something new around each turn.
DISCOVERY SCIENCE CENTER, 160‘, GE: 33.770876° -117.868288°
The first thing you encounter is the Discovery Science Center. The trail runs alongside the parking lot. This is oriented towards the grade school kids, so the TrailBear kept on pedaling down under Main St. and back up the other side to …
TRAILHEAD PARKING AT SANTIAGO PARK, 168’ GE: N33.77137 W117.86572
Opposite the entrance to the Science Center, there is a lane leading into Santiago Park, which runs along the creek. At the far end is a small parking area for the tot lot and other facilities at this end of the park. Restrooms and water are further down the trail at the far end of the tot lot. Here the trail drops down to cross the creek on a bike bridge. Some 600’ further on is another parking lot you can use – accessed off E. Memory Lane.
This is actually built in the stream bed – which probably made it both interesting and closed for Rain Week in January 2010 (four back to back fronts that week). It serves a picnic area on the south bank and the lawn bowling center. This section of trail is quite charming. Mature trees offer shade and the smell of pines pervaded the warm afternoon air. Pedal on upstream for another thousand feet to take a break at …
THE SANTIAGO ST. BRIDGE, 165‘, GE: N33.77408 W117.86025
The Santiago Street Bridge is closed to cars. They have installed benches and trees in planters, creating an observation deck with views up and down the creek bed. Probably a great place to watch when the creek is in spate and roaring along beneath you. Notice that there are two decomposed granite walking trails – one on each bank. The north side one is for the Nature Center. The south side trail goes all the way up to Hart Park.
If you want quiet access parking, come in on the south side of Santiago and you will find parking at the baseball diamond just beyond the bridge. We are going onward to the…
SANTIGO PARK NATURE RESERVE – NATURE CENTER, 168’, GE: N33.77518 W117.85926
Here is a nice new Nature Center with walks, interpretative signs here and there and some rather good looking restrooms behind an artistic – and locked – gate. The center was closed. If you can stop while they are open, TB suspects you will find the best restrooms on the trail. Certainly the newest. It was under construction in the fall of 2007.
Their parking lot is another access option. The access road continues on upstream past a tot lot with long, long slides for the kids and a K-9 training facility, passes under a railroad bridge to end in a small parking area for an archery range tucked up against the 22 Freeway. The trail goes onward under the 22 Freeway (Garden Grove) to…
HART PARK, 198‘, GE: N33.77695 W117.85201
Hart is a charming older park – circa 1934. We used it as the Trailhead du Jour and parked in the shade under the Glissell Bridge. The parking lot is rather unusual. They have widened the creek bed, sloped it, paved it and put a swale down the middle. There is a creek bed parking lot over 1600’ long. It would have been a sight in Rain Week, January ’10 with flooding all around, but probably no customers. On a busy Sunday, it’s rather full and there is overflow parking on the creek gravels at the upper end.
There is a swimming pool complex and picnic grounds on the north bank and the baseball diamonds and two sets of restrooms on the south bank. One is on an angle in the trail and the other – far less used (better) is just up the hill. The trail runs between ball fields, then jogs back out to the creek bed parking lot. Round the housing complex, make a jog and you will find a …
STREAMSIDE OVERLOOK, 211’, GE: N33.77828 W117.84560
Here is a nice spot to take a break and admire the views. They have planted a comfy concrete bench out on a point overlooking the creek. You can see it from space with Google Earth. It’s that white rectangle by the tree.
This is the beginning of the Stimulus Section of the trail. The City was able to get some stimulus money and use it to landscape the trail. They have done a rather nice job. Those are not spindly little trees coming up when you cross under the Cambridge St. bridge and enter the…
DOG WALK SECTION, 212’, GE: N33.77758 W117.84311
Here the creek curves gracefully between the levees. There are check dams here and there. There are rows of trees planted along both banks. While you are riding that very nice 5* blacktop trail, there is also a pair of DG walking trails (decomposed granite) along the levee tops. Notice the trash and puppy poop bag stations at intervals. It’s a good place to walk the dog, or just walk, jog, run, push a pram, whatever. In 15-20 years, when the trees get their growth, it will be nicely shaded. Up the trail ahead you can see the interesting…
DOUBLE BRIDGE, 225’, GE: 33.779212 -117.837033
That subdivision on the far bank has only one means of egress – and you are looking at it. It’s a double bridge over E. Rock Creek Drive. There is a ped bridge, and right behind it a vehicle bridge. Done in rusted steel, it’s an attractive focal point. It also signals that the trail is about to end. You underpass the double bridge and all too soon underpass the Tustin St. bridge. Pop up the other side and you are at…
TRAIL END EAST, 227’, GE: N33.77997 W117.83539
The creek bed heads upstream into the distance. You would too, but for that locked gate. However, there is hope for more trail in the next two years (2011).
The city has the money and is gearing up to build. It will be great. You can park down at the Main Place Mall – which makes a nice commercial trailhead at the west end of the trail – and ride up into Villa Park.
Ahead are two parks along the creek – Yorba and Grijalva. Then comes the reservoir. Above that you will have to use the bike lanes on E. Santiago Canyon Rd. These will take you up and over and down to Irvine Park where you find the Class 1 bike trail along Jamboree Rd.
That takes you down to the collage of trails called the Mountains to the Sea trail – the West Irvine/Peters Canyon Bikeway, which joins the Peters Canyon Wash Trail, which runs into the San Diego Creek Trail, which runs into the Back Bay in Newport Beach, and so on (“hip bone connected to the leg bone, leg bone connected to the thigh bone…”).
If you work west along PCH (CA 1) you reach the SART (Santa Ana River Trail) and can ride it up stream – and here a problem. If Santa Ana would finish the trail down the creek to the river – but, no. Getting from the river back to the Santiago Creek Trail is a challenge. TrailBear is still puzzling over a route. But wait! TrailLink and Google have combined forces. Let’s ask them.
Meanwhile, enjoy the Santiago Creek Trail. While short, it’s quite pleasant and very interesting. New things around every corner.
Putting the icons on the map.
TRAIL CONSTRUCTION INFO FROM THE CITY OF ORANGE…
Tustin to Collins Segment
Formally known as the Tustin Branch Trail, this project consists of a paved trail alongside the Santiago Creek from Tustin Street to Walnut Avenue, continuing north in a City owned right-of-way from Walnut Avenue to Collins Avenue. This project completes the 4.6 mile grade separated trail from Katella Avenue to past Main Street in the City of Santa Ana. The trail includes one pedestrian bridge south of Chapman Ave. near Yorba Park, and one pedestrian bridge south of Walnut Ave. near the Grijalva Gym. Once this project is complete users will be able to ride or walk from central Orange all the way to Main Place Mall and the Discovery Science Center on a completely grade separated and safe Class I bikeway.
Early in 2008 the City finalized the project’s Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) No. 1772-06 and received NEPA certification for the project. In 2009, the Right-of-Way (ROW) phase of the project was completed and ROW Certification was obtained. Other pre-construction activities that have been completed include the filing of permits, the acquisition of easements, and the biological monitoring of sensitive species known to inhabit the Santiago Creek.
In 2009, the SCBT project qualified for approx. $1.9M in new Federal American Reinvestment and Recovery Act/Transportation Enhancement funding (economic stimulus package). The trail’s construction will be going out to bid shortly. Though all project ROW and permits have been obtained, construction will be delayed a couple months until additional structural engineering considerations are implemented for the trail under the Chapman Ave. overpass.
Construction has begun on the north end of the SCBT (past Collins/Prospect Ave, Bond/Hewes area) and is being administered by the Public Works Department and will be completed in four phases. These phases are as follows:
Phase I – Bond Avenue from Prospect St. to Hewes St. is already completed and in use.
Phase II – Hewes St. from Bond Ave. to Villa Park Rd. Construction will start by summer 2010 and is expected to be completed by fall 2010.
Phase III – Villa Park Rd./Santiago Canyon Rd. from Hewes St. to Cannon St. and along westerly side of Cannon to the Bridge at Santiago Creek. Construction will start late summer 2011 and expect to be completed by Dec. 31, 2011.
Phase IV – Collins Avenue Undercrossing at Santiago Creek. Construction will start in fall 2010 and is expected to be completed by winter 2010.
All construction on the SCBT North segment is scheduled for completion by the end of 2011.
For more information about the Santiago Creek Bike Trail, please contact Community Services Department's Administration at (714) 744-7264.
Wanda Road GPS Trace correct. Parking available along Fitschen Ranch Rd.
Noel Keller 24 May 08
"Wanda Trail goes from Villa Park Road south to East Collins Ave. Parking available on Fitschen Ranch Rd, a frontage Rd off Lincoln St. with 3 direct accesses to the Trail"
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