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December 19, 2007

Rolling, Rolling on the Rivers: Santa Ana River Bicycle Trail 4

Continuing my journey (Late comers can saddle up here!) along one of the three great rivers of Southern California I head off eastward down Mentone Blvd./Hwy. 38 toward the beach.

Beach? Beach? Way out there? Stop yelling at the screen that I must be nuts...I can hear you. ;-D


Mentone, California, is the gateway into the San Bernardino Mountains and the San Bernardino National Forest, home of mighty Big Bear Mountain and Big Bear Lake. Virtually everything revolves around Big Bear, and there is even a new Blog about the cycling and other recreational activities up there.

At Amethyst, Mentone Blvd. changes name to Mill Creek Rd. and begins the journey away from civilization.


There is one last stop worth making, for motorist, or cyclist, and it is at the 100+ year old Greenspot Market, at the point where Mill Creek Rd. meets Garnet St. (This is at about the 78 1/2 mi. mark of the ride.)

World Famous for their Jerky (Mail Order, too!), the place is located at 2402 Mill Creek Rd.(Hwy. 38), Mentone, CA. 92359, in that world famous resort known as Mentone Beach.

You can get just about everything you need, except gas (You can admire what's been done to honor the memory of those long gone, but not forgotten, ancient gas pumps.), here, in preparation for your trip into the mountains.

Phone: 909 - 794-1511 (No Website!)

HOURS: Mon. - Sat. = 7am-9pm, Sun. = 7am-8pm

The clerks told me the store is a popular stop for cyclists.

They told me that while there are hearty souls who pedal UP the mountain, many choose to head to the top by car, or the MARTA Bus from San Bernardino, then pedal all the way down.

Road Cycling is very popular in all the mountain communities and has proved an inspiration to the blogger "Rev" Rich White:

Hallelujah brethren!
Welcome to the Temple of the Perpetual Pedal.
Draw near and hear the word.
Yes my brothers and sisters, the path I’ll ask you to tread is narrow. It will be long.
It will be steep with many tempting shortcuts. You will suffer and you will sweat.
These things I cannot deny!
But have faith ye of small aerobic capacity.
Press on my tiny calved friends, for you shall harvest the fruits of your labors.
Be diligent in your crusade to the summit. Do not be fooled by false peaks.
Ignore the demons pounding in your ears, screaming in your brain…
“Turn around it’s too far…Go back it’s too hot!”
Shout out, get behind me Satan of sloth!
Yea though I crank through the valley of shade-less death, I will fear no bonk
for I have hydrated and I have eaten.
Then we shall dig down deep within our souls and chant, “I think I can, I think I can”.

Amen Brother! Hallelujah!

Read the rest of this inspiring message of encouragement.

Ok, where was I?


Oh yeah, this being the beach, you can do what all beach goers go there to do:

1. Work on your tan.

2. Oggle the opposite sex.

3. Walk, jog, or bicycle along the shoreline.

You just can't surf, or swim. ;-D

While it's fine to walk along the "Sand" in some stretches, I would not advise laying out a blanket anywhere and stretching out to get that tan, as some of the critters inhabiting the landscape ain't exactly friendly. ;-D


The "Beach Bike Trail" affords one ample opportunities to enjoy the spectacular view of the "shore" as it and you rush to meet the Santa Ana River, 3 miles away.

So north on Garnet St. I ride, then I turn left on Florida St..


As Florida narrows and heads west it goes downhill, becoming Greenspot Rd. and if you don't stop to admire the view you can reach speeds of well over 30mph (I did over 30 for 1 brief moment before my odometer chickened out and claimed I did only 29.36.).


As I head down Greenspot, next to the Santa Ana River bed itself, I finally see where the river leaves the mountains to begin its journey to the Pacific Ocean.

Ahead of me is a glimpse of Seven Oaks Dam (Wonderful Photo Gallery of Construction Pictures, and a gorgeous shot from a hang glider in 2006.) and an encounter with one final bit of history.


This historic "Pin-Connected" 14-panel Pennsylvania Through Truss Bridge allows Greenspot Rd. to cross the river and I arrive at 245pm.

The Greenspot Road Bridge over the Santa Ana River in Highland is the oldest of the Inland area's problem bridges. The 95-year-old span is one of 127 bridges that scored low enough in inspections to be eligible for federal bridge-replacement money...

In the rural eastern reach of Highland, the oldest of the Inland area's problem bridges carries Greenspot Road across the Santa Ana River where it flows out of the mountains and into the San Bernardino Valley.

The bridge is 95 years old, 780 feet of clanging steel joints and creaking wooden timbers. Nailheads protrude from warped wooden side rails, and the asphalt doesn't completely cover the wooden deck planks. Parts of the metal superstructure are twisted and misshapen from traffic collisions.

Drivers familiar with the narrow span wait for oncoming cars and trucks to clear the bridge before venturing across to avoid losing a mirror in a sideswipe accident.

This 255 ft. long old bridge is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places and is a vital local link for the more than 35,000 people who live in neighboring Highland to the north and Mentone to the south. Motorists use it to avoid Interstate 10, and a 19 mi. detour.

San_ri42 According to the above quoted article in the Riverside Press Enterprise, from Sept., Highland plans to leave Greenspot Bridge in place for hikers and horseback riders to use as part of the city of Highland's Community Trails, and to build a replacement bridge for vehicles less than a mile away.

The bridge received funding 3 years ago, but more funds are needed to continue work.

If and when the new span goes up cyclists should not let that deter them from pedaling down to the old one instead.

I walked along a ledge on the south side of the river, to stand against the mountain you see in the backround for a similar picture as this one, looking NW, but settled for the shot above when an old man pulled up in his car and got out to take a walk.


This old man said he has been coming to the mountains and canyons beyond the Dam since 1959, and likes to walk along the above abandoned trail, 1 1/2 miles into the river bed to an old Dredging Pond, enjoy the view and watch occasional small planes and even Hang Gliders, in the sky.

This is the end of my cycling journey, approximately 81.60 miles of pedaling, over 2 days.

Yes, you can do it in a single day, if you don't stop to enjoy some things along the way, but why do that when you can take the bus and/or train home and return, or stay over night in a motel room.


As for the life sustaining water of the river itself and where it is in this vast riverbed...

The stream can be easily found if you walk around the area looking and listening for it. ;-D

As for the Dam, the San Bernardino County Dept. of Public Works, Flood Contol Operation Section maintains the Dam and offers tours.

The Dam is just up Greenspot Rd., beyond the river, where you can turn right onto a dirt road that leads to a guarded gate.

There being no set schedule and no information online I'll add more details here, soon, once I hear back from the person responsible.

After spending 45 minutes in the area of the bridge I finally begin the long journey home.

(TRANSIT AGENCY LINKS: Orange County Transit Agency, Riverside Transit Agency, OmniTrans, Foothill Transit, Metrolink Trains - You can request bus schedules be sent you by mail, pick them up off busses, or print them from online, and I strongly suggest you do so.)

The cyclist has 2 choices:

1. Return the way you came taking Hwy. 38, back to Wabash Ave., turn left, then right at Citrus Ave. where there is a Bus Stop for OmniTrans #9. This bus takes you to Loma Linda Medical Center where you transfer to the Riverside Transit #25 to the Riverside Transit Depot.

There you can take Riverside Transit #149 to the Village at Orange in the OC, or the #1 to the Metrolink Depot in Corona, and ride back into Orange County by bike.

The Metrolink Station is east of the RTA Depot downtown, as well, by riding east on Mission Inn and right on Vine St . to the station.

2. You can catch the OmniTrans #8 on Mentone, at Wabash, and go to the San Bernardino Transit Mall to begin the journey west (To be discussed below.)

The drawback to these options is the time of day you finish your ride to the bridge, so it is very important to check the schedules.

3. Continue, now westbound on Greenspot Rd. 11 1/2 miles into Downtown San Bernardino.

I took this route. ;-D

As Greenspot comes down out of the wide open spaces of the foothils, through East Highlands it widens out and even has a Bike Lane as you pass housing on your right, and the river on your left.

The best thing, though, is that you won't have to pedal, brake or stop for 4 miles, 4.85 if you hit the first 3 lights before Boulder Ave.

You can, if you choose, catch OmniTrans #15 before Boulder, on Church, just north of 5th, in Highland, and go in to San Bernardino, or Fontana to make connections (Again, timing is critical.).

Greenspot becomes Fifth Ave. and heads into Downtown San Bernardino, passing the Seccombe Lake Recreation Area (Once the jewel of the downtown park system and, some hope, on the rebound.), near Pioneer Memorial Cemetary, before turning left at E St., and arriving at the 4th St. Transit Mall, which runs between Arrowhead  Ave. and G St., near the Carousel Shopping Mall.

Here you can catch OmniTrans #14 to Fontana, which connects with the #61 to Pomona Transit Center and also the #66 to Montclair Transit Center, and then head into Orange County or Los Angeles County on Foothill Transit (From Pomona = To OC take the #286, or take the #482 to Puente Hills Mall, and then the #285 to Beach Blvd. and La Habra Blvd., in La Habra.).

There is also the nearby Metrolink Station on the other side of the Carousel Mall: South on E, right on 2nd,right on I St., left on 3rd to the station.

Again, the time of day is important in making your transit choices.

Why is it important?

I got to Pomona too late to catch the connection to Brea, and would get to Puente Hills Mall too late as well.

I thus had 2 choices for riding in the dark (Yes, I have lights.):

1. Take the Foothill #482 to Diamond Bar Blvd. and Golden Springs, in Diamond Bar, then take a hilly ride south on Diamond Bar, to Brea Canyon Rd. which is a flat ride to State College Blvd, where you turn left and go to Brea Mall.

2. The much shorter but, in the end, more dangerous choice, I found out, is to stay on the bus and get off at Fullerton Rd., then going south and over the hill as it becomes Harbor Blvd. on the downhill side.

The climb is mostly easy, and the downhill is a rush.

During the day the view is spectacular.

At night the view is still spectacular and the ride still a rush, but far too dangerous, even using your brakes, and with lights, because there is no street lighting up there.

I took that sucker very cautiously, believe you me! ;-D

Now let me discuss the transit issues way back at the start of the ride. ;-D

LA County Cyclists, without a car, can enter the OC:

1. Via connections from the METRO Blue Line and OCTA #60, thus connecting with the OCTA #1 at 7th and Channel, for the ride down the coast to Huntington State Beach, and a short pedal on the Beach Bike Trail to the Santa Ana River.

2. Via Foothill Transit #285 at Puente Hills Mall, thus connecting with the OCTA #29 south on Beach, at La Habra Blvd., and then the OCTA#1 down the coast to Huntington State Beach, and a short pedal on the Beach Bike Trail to the Santa Ana River.

3. Via Foothill Transit #286 from Pomona to Brea Mall, thus connecting with OCTA #47 to Balboa and PCH, leaving you with a short pedal north on PCH to the trail.

For locals the OCTA #'s 50, 60, 43 and 57 are 24 hour busses.

All 4 busses connect with the #71 that heads south to PCH, leaving you with a short pedal north on PCH to the trail.

The 50 and 60 connect with the 29, 43, 47, and 57.

Other busses in North County connect with all these, as to many South County Busses with the #1, between San Clemente and Newport Beach, so get thee a Bus Book, or go online.

VILLAGE AT ORANGE, on Tustin Ave., the bus entry into Riverside County: The #50 and #71, plus the 24, 42, 46, 131, 167, and 213 all come here, thus connecting with RTA #149.

METROLINK STATIONS in several locations across the county serve the Inland Empire/Orange County Line and the Riverside Line. 

As with the earlier discussion...timing is important in your planning so use the books and websites.

For those who cart their bikes by car:

1. Huntington Beach State Beach has All Day Parking (6am-10pm):

** $10.00 per vehicle  (9 persons or less per vehicle).
** Seniors: (62+) $8.00 per vehicle.

2. North of the Village at Orange there is Eisenhower Park, on Tustin Ave., north of Lincoln Ave.

3. As mentioned before there is parking at Carson Dog Park in Riverside, right next to the Trail at Mission Blvd.

Using a Thomas Bros. Map, or online searchs of all the cities the ride passes through (Costa Mesa, Fountain Valley, Santa Ana, Anaheim, Orange, Yorba Linda, Corona, Norco, Riverside, Colton, Loma Linda, Redlands, Mentone, San Bernardino.)

The nearest park to the Greenspot Bridge, from the Highland side is, amazingly, in San Bernardino! ;-D

Cyclists in the Inland Empire can ride to the Waterman Trail head from Downtown San Bernardino, reversing the route discussed in the last chapter.

Well, that's that! ;-D

I hope that the story of my adventure encourages more people to get out and explore all, or part, of the Santa Ana River Trail and surrounding areas.

You absolutely will not regret it. ;-D

December 19, 2007 in Riding San Bernardino County | Permalink


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Thanks for the continuing travelogue, Kiril.

I'll be down in San Diego next week, BTW, for the holidays. I might try to look you up if I get a chance!

Posted by: Fritz | Dec 19, 2007 3:33:13 PM

Thanks Kiril,

I really enjoyed reading about this trip.

I used to live in San Bernardino and have ridden my then Diamondback Hybrid bicycle up Greenspot Rd. to, and past, the Greenspot Market and was very pleased to see you had that area as a destination.

That's a neat area, isn't it?

Very good presentation of your trip Kiril and much appreciated for taking the time and trouble to post this.

Posted by: Gary Green- The Bicycle Bum | Dec 23, 2007 12:06:10 PM

Great travelogue for an excellent adventure! It makes me want to box up the bike and head right down there.
Keep up the good work!

Posted by: Gene | Dec 27, 2007 3:18:33 PM

Hi Kiril,

Thanks for an excellent article, very well researched, especially with all the background information about bridges/history and interesting little stores and side stops.

I have only gotten as far as Yorba Linda from Huntington Beach because I was not sure how to proceed from there.

Now I can explore the full trail thanks to you.

Keep up the great work and see you on the bike trail some day.

If you are a regular rider of any of the trails, including this one, please send me an email of your riding schedule (where/when) and I'll try to cross paths with you.

Take care, and thanks again.

Seal Beach

Posted by: Rich | Jul 5, 2008 8:58:21 PM

Thanks Rich, and everyone who has commented on, and continue to read this series, and the one on the San Gabriel River Trail!

New readers are discovering both series every day, and this makes all the effort worthwhile. ;-D

I plan to soon continue the series with rides on the 2 River Trails I still need to tackle in Los Angeles County. ;-D

Posted by: Kiril The Cycling Dude | Jul 6, 2008 2:29:31 AM

I loved the 3rd leg description.

I live in Grand Terrace, a small town bordering Colton.

My wife and I frequently ride through Loma Linda and Redlands to Mentone.

On other trips we take the SART from our town to Riverside heading into Norco.

We've also done the trail from Yorba Linda to the beach and back.

I'd really like to try the finishing leg up to the foothills of the mountains.

Your right, the ride back is a total coast.

Thanks again,

Posted by: Fritz | Nov 11, 2009 6:04:46 PM

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