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November 19, 2006

Mts. to Sea Trail 1: Orange to Newport Beach

In the Spring of 2005 a momentious announcement was made as a new Multi-Use Trail was opened up, with plans for 2 more to follow in coming years.

At the time I took it upon myself to go ride the trail for a story, but barely 3 miles in my odometer batteries went dead.

The ride was great, and I knew I wanted to return.

In October I did just that, and took along my camera. ;-D

Let me introduce you to Orange County's 1st Mountains to the Sea Trail, the backbone of the 50,000-acre Irvine Ranch Land Reserve.

Depending on where you begin, and end, and if you skip one section meant more for those with mountain bikes, the 1 way trip is 20 to 24 miles.

The ride actually begins, if you want it to, with a visit to the Irvine Regional Park, located east of the intersections of Jamboree Rd. and Chapman Ave, or Santiago Canyon Rd. ( Where the Official Trail begins. ).

People with cars can get there on Jamboree, from the 5 freeway.

People, like me, with bikes can take any number of North, or Southbound, Orange Country Transit busses, depending from where you are coming from, to Chapman Ave. in Los Alamitos, Stanton, Garden Grove, Anaheim and Orange, to catch the #54 Bus heading east.

On Sundays, however, this bus does not go all the way to its normal end, at the nearby Santiago Canyon College, so you would have to ride the rest of the way, a mile or so up Chapman Ave.

Once at the end of the ride, in Newport Beach, riders who drove to the start can return the way they came, or take take the #57 bus from the nearby Fashion Island Mall to Chapman, and connect with the 54.

As an alternative folks can start at the Newport end ( Numerous busses take cyclists to the area. ) where there is limited parking at a couple of spots along the Newport Back Bay portion of the Trail, and on Sundays Cyclists can enjoy a great down hill jaunt on Chapman down to where they can catch the bus if they need to.

When I arrived at the college I got off the bus at the stop on Newport Blvd, just before the bus enters the college, then road east to Santiago then a short distance south to Jamboree.

You can begin here by turning right, onto the trail, or do as I did, and turn left to ride to the park.

There is a road that heads south to the tip of the park, and is a cool 1/4 mile ride past numerous Parking Areas. ( To plant your car for the day you need to pay a the entrance to the Park. )

At South Parking Area #15 is the entrance of the Multi-use Trail thru the park.

Mts_sea1 As you enter the trail you take a left onto a blacktop trail that follows the west side of the creek bed for just under a mile, passsing Horse Stables on your right.

You take a left onto a road that goes out of the park the way you came, onto Irvine Park Rd, then onto Jamboree.

Reaching the Corner of Santiago Canyon Rd. you return to the Official entrance to what is officiall called the Peter's Canyon Bikeway, a block further, at Chapman and Jamboree.


It is clearly marked with excellent signage.

The Bikeway travels for almost a mile until it comes to the entrance of Peter's Canyon Regional Park.

It is here that you have a decision to make:

Is your bike able to handle dirt trails?

Mts_sea3 Hybrid Bikes, and Mountain Bikes, can handle the trail.

Anyone else should continue on Jamboree the 3 rolling miles to the continuation of the paved trail at Portola Parkway.

If you want you can then ride the trail north from Portola, up to the exit from Peter's Canyon, and back, before continuing on Jamboree.


I, of course, ventured into the park. ;-D

A careful roadbiker can tackle the park at their own risk, and will find the trail is not THAT hard to deal with, and worth the time, and effort.

The trail is a combination of flat, sometimes bumpy, loose, and hard-packed dirt that best suits knobby tires.


Riding here one is surrounded by nature, in all its glory, and encounters the occasional walker, jogger, and cyclist ( It is busier on Weekends. ).

The place is very popular with families, and people walking their dogs, though I had to wonder about the guy with the Chihuahua ( Wasn't he concerned that there might be Squirrels bigger than, um , Tiny? )


Once out of the park you turn right, and head around the Retarding Basin to the entrance of the clearly marked trail.

It is easy to miss the right turn if the the Official Trail Sign is missing, as it was the day I went thru.


The paved trail hugs Peter's Canyon Rd, and is again called the Peter's Canyon Bikeway.

it is a shaded trail behind a school, and park, that crosses pioneer, and Tustin Ranch Rd., to Portola, and then to Jamboree.

The whole side tour is about 3 1/2 miles.

Once back on Jamboree the Official Trail continues its journey south.


Shortly the trail goes under Jamboree, and contunues on the other side of the street as it passes several residential neighborhoods.

By now you will be noticing the nice green circles, with an arrow, in the pavement, that are another way you can tell you are headed the right way.


Shortly the trail hangs a left, away from the hustle, and bustle of the street, and into the residential neighborhoods.

It continues through a tunnel then runs parallel to the Toll Rd. ( On your left. ).

Alas this marvelous bush, and tree, lined route whose trees will grow to add more shade, ends at Bryan Ave., and you turn left, onto the sidewalk over the Toll Road, and concrete river bed, then a very short left to return to the trail.

At this point you make one more left to continue south, under Bryan, with the river now on your right.

If you had continued north you would find yourself on another trail entrirely.


The next stretch gave me a little concern by very briefly going too close to the river bed, but I was happy again when I returned above the river to the bushes, and trees beside the freeway.

When riding along next to the weed, and tree, infested river, and approaching areas where the trail goes under the streets, and close to the river, be aware of possible flooding, and being prepared to go up, and across the streets, when needed.


It was along here that I came across a sign saying that the Bikeway was closed along the channel, and a left alongside Como Creek, for a block, was required.

Don't be confused by this because it is just the name given to the breif stretch of the trail that runs next to the railroad tracks to Harvard Ave.


Here's where it gets a bit confusing.

As I cross the railroad tracks, at Harvard, and approach the Harvard Ave. Bikeway portion of the route, on the east side of the street, I see a trail heading east.

That is the Walnut Trail, and heads toward Sand Canyon Rd.

I head south next, with Harvard on my right, and seeing the signs in the pavement, and on poles, know I am heading straight, and true. ;-D

At the 11 1/2 mile mark ( Approx. ) of the ride, after passing several gated communities, I approach Barranca Blvd.

Look for the signs, and you will know that yo need to cross to the SW corner where you can enter the trail again as it heads west along what is now called the San Diego Creek Bikeway.

If you had crossed to the SE corner you could head east on the SDC Bikeway.

The nearby baseball field has water, and restrooms, and makes for a good place to stop, and refresh, and maybe eat any lunch you might have brought with you, or you could go down Barranca, in either direction, to find munchies before returning to the trail.


As I continue on the ride I enjoy an upclose, and personal, look at the the overgrown, green, landscape of the creek on one side, and civilization, in the shape of apartments, and businesses, on the other.

Eventually the trail parallels University Ave., on the left, as I pass a golf course, a park, and UC Irvine.


The San Diego Creek Bikeway ends at the Upper Newport Bay Ecological Preserve, after going under Jamboree Rd..

The MTS. to Sea Sign points riders south, along the Upper Newport Bay Trail, to East Blluff, right along the sidewalk, and then right again, onto the trail along Back Bay Rd.

If you are so inclined, before heading south, as just described, you could head north, then west, for a more than 2 mile round trip exploration of the Bay Trail on the north side of the Preserve.

On the south side the trail winds its way for 6 miles along the south shore of the Preserve to Jamboree Rd..

Just before you get to Jamboree, though, is my preferred choice for the end of the ride.

On your right you will see a Bike Trail that leads to 2 options.

The right one takes you below Pacific Coast Highway, and past an RV, and a Trailor PArk, before reaching PCH itself.

The one, on the left, and the one I encourage you to take, heads up to Back Bay View Park, at the corner of Jamboree, and PCH.

At the top turn left, and go to the plaque, and once there turn around, and enjoy the view. ;-D

Now that you have finished your ride you are probably wondering where the sea is, right?

It is a couple of miles away, and well worth the effort.

Heading west on Jamboree you head over to Balboa Island ( Well worth exploring in its own right. ), and make your way to the historic Balboa Ferry on the west side of the island ( See the Directions page of the Official Site. ), for the 4 minute trip, across Newport Harbor, to the Balboa Fun Zone, and nearby Balboa Village ( Also well worth exploring. ), and Balboa Pier.

There is a Multi-use Trail that heads north from the Pier to the Newport Beach Pier, and shops.

Once you have seen the Ocean, and maybe had a bite to eat, return to PCH and Jamboree.

if you are going to take the Bus the best thing to do, so as not to be confused, is to ride south on PCH, turn left, at Avocado, and left at San Nicolas, and go to the Newport Transit Center.

There you can catch the #57, as described earlier, or several other busses headed to other parts of the county.

November 19, 2006 in Riding Orange County | Permalink


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These are some great bike trail photos.

It looks very inviting!

Posted by: ScotlandGuy | Oct 21, 2008 11:31:19 AM

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