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March 04, 2009

See the Sights of Santa Ana by Bicycle

Santana_ri1 The bike ride I describe here is a leisurely ride through mostly residential neighborhoods of the city of Santa Ana from the Northeast across to the Southwest, along 3 Class 1 paved, and signed Trails, residential streets, and through downtown.

It is a ride at one with nature, and attuned to the history, and cultural make-up, of this city.

Directions to Ride Start:

The 1st thing to know is that, for car drivers, there is plenty of parking at the start of the ride.

For drivers all freeways lead to the 5, and then you head north or south, to Santa Ana where you exit at Main, and head north, a brief distance, to Memory Lane, turn right, and right again, at Lawson, into the parking lot for Santiago Park.

For Bus Riders the busses that you connect with to go to Main and & Memory Lane are EITHER the OCTA #53 from either Irvine, going North, or from Brea, heading south, or the #60 along 17th, allowing your to ride north on Main to the start, or the #54 or #56 that drop you on Main for a short ride south to the start.


This is a combined description because it seems the simplest way to describe the experience.

Distances are approximate.

Santana_ri2With its rock walls and stone steps the parking lot feels like you are stepping back in time. 

The  ride begins by climbing up out of the parking lot, and entering the Santiago Creek Trail, on the right.

As you approach the Archery Range, and an old bridge, things get interesting, and a bit mysterious, right away, as you encounter stone walls and old stone steps leading into the creek bed for some long forgotten reason.

At .66mi. you enter old Hart Park, near grand Ave. & the Garden Grove Freeway.

Already you will have begun to encounter walkers, people with their Dogs, and cyclists, more so on weekends, along the trail.

They are mostly Hispanic, and young, including families, but you will encounter Caucasians, and elderly, as well.


Entering Hart Park you pass the old parking lot with its old rock walls and steps, & past picnic areas, and baseball fields, taking in the, especially on weekends, the many families at picnic and play, and more than a few cyclists as well.

Moments later it's just you, the trail, and the empty river bed, again.


As you pedal along, going udner a couple of bridges, you pass places where walkers can get off the trail, and explore the plant life  closer to the trail.

You may encounter young cyclists who have set aside their bikes to sit along the banks of the creek, almost hidden from view.

Santana_ri5  I encountered an old man, with a bike, who originally intended to go to the park, but instead became sidetracked by a beautiful patch along the trail where he chose to set up his folding chair, and settled down to read his Bible closer to God than a noisy park would allow on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

At 1.97mi. you come up out of the trail at Tustin Ave, and La Veta, cross back to the west side of Tustin Ave., and pedal south.

The creek trail may someday be extended further east, and many cyclists can't wait to experience such an extention.

Soon you turn right on Santa Clara Ave.and find yourself passing historic Santa Ana Cemetary, and its companion Fairhaven Memorial Park, where Civil War Veterans are buried, among other early settlers of Orange County, and Southern California.

Leaving this residential area, turning left on Grand Ave., you head south under the 5 Frwy., and right onto Santa Ana Blvd.

Santana_ri6  At 4.95mi. your trip along Santa Ana Blvd. takes you on a trip through the early history of the city, beginning by passing the historic Santa Ana Train Depot, now a major Transit Hub, an old residential neighborhood, and finally past the old 1st United Methodist (Roots back to 1869), the nearby Episcopal Church of the Messiah (1888) &  the 1st Presbyterian Church (1882), at Main St.

Your first stop in old downtown Santa Ana is the Orange County Courthouse in all of its magnificent 1900 Arizona Red Sandstone glory.

It is the oldest exhisting courthouse in Southern California  and has tried some of the most famous cases in the hisotry of the state, including the Whipsstock Case, which dealt with slant oil drilling, and the interpretation of farm labor law, resulting in law regulating explosives.

After passing the seats of county government, and truning left on Ross, then left on 4th street the last part of your exploration of the old downtown begins.


This leg takes you shopping.

By shopping I mean the popular Hispanic Shopping District, and the nearby Arts Colony, plus many polular places for a variety of dining experiences to wet your whisle, and tickle your taste buds.

East of 4th, Right on Bush, Right on 3rd, left on Broadway, Left on First, and finally Right on Maple.

At 7.18 mi. you have finally arrived at the start of the cross city, neighborhood tour trail, that runs just over 3 miles, from the east side of Santa Ana, to the west side.


Starting at Maple, and Chestnut, you ride south on a trail that runs parallel to Maple all the way to Warner Ave.


As you travel you cross numerous streets including the busy one called McFadden, Edinger, and Warner.

The trail is flat, but occasionally bumpy, and you have to carefully cross many neighborhood streets, while encountering cyclists, joggers, walkers, poeple walking their Dogs, and the occassional solitary person, or couple, lounging on the several grassy areas, whether public, or private residential spaces.

Santana_ri11  The next leg requires you to pay attention to your route slip and the terrain.

After crossing Warner the trail goes between a school, and houses, SW to Adams and Orange.

Next you go left, a short distance on Orange, to the Railroad, and the barking Dog if he's awake, where the trail heads west next to the tracks.

Next you cross Main, to the south at the light, and continue on next to the tracks.

Along the trail, from Adams & Orange, to Alton, as you travel next to the tracks, do not be surprised to encounter homeless people camping along the trail.

They may be harmelss, but don't stop, just keep on pedaling as quickly as you can, past them, acting like you own the trail, which you most certainly do.

Exiting on Alton, and turning right, you head a short distance to Bristol Ave., cros the street, and enter the trail again.

At this point, about 8.81 miles into your adventure, you can choose to take a detour, a few blocks to the south, for some shopping, and/or eating, plus potty break, at Target, Trader Joes, restuarants, and the South Coast Plaza across the border in Costa Mesa.

Also nearby is the Segerstrom Hall, and other venues, home to, among others, the Orange County Pacific Symphony Orchestra.


The last leg of the route continues west, between Alton, and the adjacent RR tracks,
with serviceable pavement badly in need of repairs.

The trail, and Alton, ends at Susan St., and you have now traveled 10.40 miles.


Turning left on Susan, right on McArthur, and right on Harbor, you head north, cross Warner, climb up the hill as Harbor prepares to go over the Santa Ana River, and make a right down onto the Santa Ana Rover Bicycle Trail.

Finally, you exit the river at 5th, turn right, past the school, and the Goodwill, turn left on Fairview, and right on Civic Center Dr.


You have now travelled about 14.80 miles.

Traveling east on Civic Center, you turn left on  Bristol, resist the temptation to stop at In & Out Burger, or not...pass Santa Ana College, and Target & Kohls, at 17th, and approach, once again, Santa Clara Ave.

You are about to explore anotehr old neighborhood, this one called Floral Park, well known for the residents propensity for gardens, flowers, and other related leafy things.

When you reach Flower St. you can take a short detour, a couple of blocks north, to an old, famous, and well kept, "pocket" park, which is a beautiful garden on a street corner, with benches to rest your weary bones on before heading into the home stretch.

Along Santa Clara you will pass under a beautiful canopy of trees, next to an old gated property with one few privately owned collection of fruit trees in the OC (Whether Oranges or lemons I don't know, and the above pic was taken looking from east to west.)


Turning left on Broadway, and heading north, you climb up, and over, the freeway, and down for the approach to Main Place Mall.

At Main Place Dr. you make an immediate right to where the entrance to the Santiago Creek Trail as it prepairs to go past the Discovery Museum, and enter Santiago Park.

Entering the park you soon cross a short bridge, and arrive back at where you began.

It's nearly dark, in my case, as I ride this final section of the journery, and families are walking to their cars, or out of the park to Main St., and each of us, in our own way have spent an enjoyable afternoon in Santa Ana.

When I look at my odometer I find that the entire journey covered a total of about 18.85 miles.

March 4, 2009 in Riding Orange County | Permalink


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