The West Irvine Trail/Peters Canyon Bikeway is an enjoyable ride through West Irvine and Tustin up to the bottom of the Peters Canyon Regional Park. It connects the park to the Peters Canyon Wash Trail further to the southeast and that connects to a number of Irvine trails – Hicks Canyon, Venta Spur, Walnut (AT&SF) and San Diego Creek for some ride options. The Peters Canyon Wash, San Diego Creek route down to the Upper Newport Bay in Newport Beach are part of the Mountains to the Sea Trail.
I have been surveying trails down in South County and the Coyote Creek Trail, which has given me a renewed appreciation for the excellent trails in Irvine. You do not find this level of quality in all places. It costs money to build and maintain it. Enjoy it.
The West Irvine/Peters Canyon is a dual trail. There is the blacktop bikeway on one side and an adjacent decomposed granite track for joggers and horses. There is landscaping, frequent benches, bollard lights and shade trees. The landscaping is not as extensive as the Hicks Canyon or Venta Spur, but sufficient to make a nice ride. Most of the crossings are on-grade, so it is not a high speed trail such as the Hicks, Peters Canyon Wash or San Diego Creek. It’s stop, look, Lexus.
Starting at the corner of the 261 overpass on Bryan Ave., (Log = 0.0 miles, Elevation = 120’) the trail runs between fenced-off apartment blocks on the west side and the 261 on the east side. At 0.40 miles it dives under Irvine Blvd. At 0.66 miles it turns hard left and begins a 0.74 mile run across West Irvine to Jamboree Rd.
Homestead Park, 8 Cliffwood, Irvine, (0.90 miles/114’) is in the middle of this stretch and can serve as a full-service trailhead for the lower trail. Aside from the usual restrooms and water, you will find picnic tables, benches, a tot lot, bike racks and tennis courts.
The dual trails turn up Jamboree Rd. and head for Valencia Park (1.90 miles/188’). A sweeping turn through the park, a tunnel under Jamboree Rd. and the trails appear on the far side as the Peters Canyon Bikeway.
What a change! There are trail signs! Trail signs in adequate amounts and at the right locations. Irvine has many excellent trails, but trail signage is not something they do often or well. It looks like Irvine got the trails and Tustin got the signs.
Here is a stack of them. Mountains to the Sea sign on top. Then a set telling you bikies thataway, horses thisaway, then a yield sign followed by the name of the trail. With the exception of distances, that covers what you need to know. When you reach an intersection, there will be a sign stack on the far side, beckoning you onward. I made the survey without consulting my home made Google Earth pictomaps with what I hoped was the trail overlaid.
At the corner of Jamboree and Portola Parkway (2.60 miles/240’) there is a brand new park under construction – Citrus Ranch Park, 2910 Portola Parkway, Tustin. It should open in the spring of 2010 and it looks like a really nice facility. The trail runs along the front of the park to Tustin Ranch Rd. where the trail crosses the road, runs along Tustin Ranch for a bit, then heads up Pioneer Way to Cedar Grove Park (3.27 miles/287’), which can be your full service trail head for the upper trail.
Now the trail runs along the bottom of the hills of Lemon Heights with some very nice homes up on top, behind those big locked gates. At Silverado Terrace x Peters Canyon Rd., (3.82 miles/342’) you reach the bottom of the Peters Canyon Regional Park. Here is the old lower reservoir from Irvine Ranch days. Now it is a dry “retarding basin” for flood control. Head along the edge of the basin to the gate at the top (4.04 miles/356’), then along the upper edge to a set of portapotties on the far side.
You are now at the upper end of the trail at 4.23 miles and 348’ elevation. Here you will find an information kiosk and trails leading into the park. From Bryan Ave. you have gained 236’ in 4.23 miles of riding. My GPS claims that I did 210’ up and 50’ down on the route. What does yours say?
If you want more riding, take the gravel trail up though the park to the dam. From there you can pick up the bike/walk on the western side of Jamboree Rd. and continue on up to Irvine Park at the top of Jamboree Rd. From there you can turn around and start coasting downhill to the sea.
TRAIL RATINGS - * to *****
Trail surface = ***** Nice, smooth ride on both blacktop and concrete. You don’t notice it under tire.
Trail scenery = **** Visually interesting. The upper portion in the hills is the most interesting.
Trail facilities = ***** Parks for full service trail heads at Homestead, Valencia and Cedar Grove.
Do it again? Yes. Next ride will continue thru Peters Canyon Regional Park and then survey the bike/walk on upper Jamboree Rd.
A LOOP-BACK OPTON OR TWO…
From the upper trail end I retraced my track to the corner of Jamboree and Portola. There I took the bike lane SE on Portola for a half mile to the upper end of the Peters Canyon Wash Trail. That upper section is fun – going downhill. Forget coasting. I was clocking +19 mph. Unfortunately, it flattened out where the Hicks Canyon Trail joins and progress thereafter was more sedate back to my Harvard Park trail head below the I-5.
Another option would be to start at Hicks Canyon Community Park, ride down the wash to the West Irvine/PCB trail end on Bryan Ave. x 261 Tollroad, take that inland and uphill to Portola, head SE on the Portola bike lanes to the top of Hicks Canyon Trail and then coast downhill to your starting point.
SOME RESOURCES FOR RIDE PLANNING…
Public park facilities inventory for Irvine, Ca.
Cedar Grove Park, Tustin, CA.
City of Irvine bikeways map
Tustin does not appear to have a bikeways map or any organized information on bike trails. Orange County does.
Some information on the Mountains to the Sea trail.
"Filling in the blank spots on the map."