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July 02, 2003


Exploring The Upper Newport Back Bay and San Diego Creek in May, 2003.

Location: Newport Beach and Irvine, Ca.

Directions to Ride Start:

Various freeways lead south from LA County, Riverside County, and North Orange County to connect with the 55 Frwy. to Costa Mesa, and the 405 frwy comes north as well for anyone traveling from South Orange County.

The 55 becomes Newport Blvd. at 19th Street.

Turn left at 19th. 19th becomes Dover at Irvine Ave.

Turn left at Castaways Lane and take an immediate right into Castaways Park, or a left into Bob Henry Park.

By bus, folks can connect with OCTA 43, south on HARBOR BLVD., anywhere from Brea to Costa Mesa, and transfer to OCTA 55 at Harbor and Wilson, heading south. The 55 stops at Dover & Castaways Lane.

Alternatively folks coming from along the coast, from Long Beach to San Clemente, can take OCTA 1 to Fashion Island, in Newport Beach, and connect with OCTA 55 there.

Castaways is open 6am-11pm.


1. Start at the south end of Castaways Parking Lot.
2. Climb path and turn right, then left, to reach plaque.
3. Continue along trail to Westcliff and Dover. (aprox. 1.02miles)
4. Cross the street at crosswalk to continue south (left) on Dover.
5. Left at Pacific Coast Highway. (1.74m)
6. Left at Jamboree Rd. (2.78m)
7. Left at Back Bay Rd. (2.98m)
8. Info Kiosk, parking lot, and porto potty. (4.4m)
9. Left at East Bluff Dr. (6.35m)
10. Stop at Jamboree and cross on crosswalk to near corner on your left. (6.64m)
11. Proceed on pavement, turn left onto Bike Path and under Jamboree bridge onto the San Diego Creek Bike Trail. (6.82m)
12. Stay left on the path. (9.38m)
13. Colonel Bill Barker Marine Corp Memorial Park. (11.18m)
14. Lake Rd. crossing (Del Taco and Mobil Station). (13.04m)
15. Right at Jeffrey Rd. (13.78m)
16. Becomes University Dr. at the 405 frwy. overpass.
17. Campus Dr. entrance to San Diego Creek Bike Trail. (17.75m)
18. Jamboree Rd. overpass. (19.18m)
19. Follow sidewalk north to corner, and make 2 quick lefts back onto Bike Trail leading to north shore of the Back Bay.
20. Stay left on trail to entrance of Interpretive Center. (20.65m)
21. Cross entrance and continue on trail, south next to Irvine Ave., to Santiago. (21.78m)
22. Cross Irvine, at cross walk, and continue south on Irvine Ave.

( Food stops available at Westcliff Dr. and Irvine Ave. area.)

23. Left at Westcliff Dr. (23.03m)
24. Right on Dover.
25. Left on Castaways for return to parking lot.

Aproximate ride distance is 23.75 miles, and while mostly flat and easy, there are a few brief hilly spots for a change of pace.


Castaway's Park, overlooking Newport Bay, has something of a history to it dating back to 1870 when one Capt. Samuel S. Dunnels, and the good ship Vaquero entered Newport Bay for the first time.

The park land itself was granted to the city of Newport Beach and dedicated as a park in 1998 ( Bob Henry park developed on the site of the shooting death of a Newport Beach Police Officer, and named in his honor).

I entered the park from the south end of the parking lot and, after a short climb, turned right and left to a plaque on the edge of the cliff overlooking the Bay.

From this point I was treated to a great view of the Newport Bay, almost to the ocean (on a clear, fogless, day you can see much further).

As I continued along the cliff and behind a row of houses the view was of the Ecological Preserve, and of Fashion Island Shopping Center in the distance.

One thing I noticed at the park are signs stating that Coastal Bluff Revegitation is in progress so don't jump the fence to get a look down the cliff side.

Once out of the park I headed down Dover to PCH, then over to Jamboree and Back Bay Dr..

As I rode along PCH, over the Bay Bridge, I got a close-up of the Bay, and the steamboat that is a Nautical Museum (free admission), on the right.

At the bottom of jamboree, a left put me on the Back Bay Dr., and the first thing I notice is the entrance to Newport Dunes Resort and the Back Bay Cafe.

The real fun begins at Back Bay and Shellmaker where I enter the Newport Bay Ecological Preserve (open 7am-sunset), and the road becomes 2 lanes (1 for eastbound traffic, and 1 bike lane going west).

I am heading east and, only later realize the full extent of the bike path around the Bay.

A quarter mile in I begin to notice the utter quiet, except for birds, and the uninterrupted eastward view of the wetlands. According to the info kiosks along the way the birds include Light-footed Clapper Rails, Least Terns, and various Sparrows, and Ducks.

(Oh, and the rabbits, and squirrels are like some humans in that they flat out refuse to stop, look, and listen when crossing the road, so be very careful out here folks!)

I passed a Porto Potty, so if you need a pitstop there is one. :-)

Climbing out of the Bay I hung a left on East Bluff and made my way to the continuation of the bike path on the NW corner of Jamboree.

The Back Bay (Newport Bay) is considered an environmental assett to the local community and is one of the largest Coastal Wetlands in California. Restoration began in 1985 and the effort to maintain the natural beauty of Upper Newport Bay continues to this day.

After carefully crossing the street at Jamboree, to reach the bike path, I go down it and hang a left to go down what seemed to be a bike path heading further inland.

This turned out to be the San Diego Creek Bike Trail, and it led me on a nice, flat ride past business, recreational, and residential areas of Irvine for miles all the way past Mickleson, the 405, and Main, to Jeffrey Rd.

One thing obvious to me by this point was that not only the Back Bay, but the Creek as well, were very popular with cyclists, walkers, and joggers of all types.

The first leg of the creek ride has lots of vegitation in the creek and the last leg has the creek turned into something of a grassy greenbelt.

Bathrooms and water can be found at Barker Memorial Park, in Irvine, and a little further on there will be a Del Taco for munchies.

From the Del Taco I have to contune along the path by crossing several streets along the way to Jeffrey.

As I pass over the 405, and Jeffrey becomes University the road climbs upward into the hills before leveling off to wind its way past William R. Mason Regional Park (more bike and hiking paths!), and UC Irvine to Jamboree.

Upon reaching UC Irvine, at University and Campus, I get back on to the Creek Bike Trail and return to Jamboree and the Bay.

I take a seat on the bridge wall, gaze out at the bay for a few minutes and realize I'd just done a nice, relatively easy loop that was almost complete.

I followed the sidewalk a short distance north and turned onto a bike path that heads along the north shore of the bay.

The path passes the Nature Preserve Interpretive Center (10-4pm, tues.-sat.), and then parallels Irvine Ave. before I have to leave it and rejoin traffic on Irvine.

At Westcliff and Irvine, (and west on 17th) there are plenty of choices for breakfast, lunch and dinner before heading on Westcliff, and Dover back to Castaways Park.

July 2, 2003 in Riding Orange County | Permalink


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