Compared to Washington’s Capital Crescent Trail along the Potomac, the Santa Ana Trail is a poor cousin. It’s not well marked in places, making it easy to wander into dead end side trails, as I did three times. But it is a splendid trail for jogging and biking and serves a touring cyclist well by proceeding inland 30 miles, avoiding the road traffic of the sprawling L.A. suburbs.
On this sunny late February day there were ducks, egrets, herons and Canada geese, various kinds of ducks being the most common. One man walking his dog in Santa Ana said two weeks ago there was no water and no birds.
Once again a mild wind was coming off the ocean, providing an assist to a northbound rider. For the first few miles snow-cover Mt. Baldy, where Leonard Cohen resided while studying Zen Buddhism, was straight ahead.
All the while there was the sweet smell of Eucalyptus and red and pink Bougainvilleas in full bloom. At times one can be fooled that the panorama is South Africa or Australia.
The trail goes through Anaheim and the sports complex dominated by the Angels baseball stadium. For some distance in Yorba Linda the trail is almost rural but numerous construction sites and detours that were unmarked made it difficult to know one’s location. In my three unintended deviations from the trail I probably lost 45-minutes and had to backtrack considerable distances.
But the real challenge comes when the trail ends. There are a couple steep climbs leading into Corona and city thoroughfares are the only option. Even from Corona Riverside is 15 miles north and east. Signs, maps and GPS provided little assistance in choosing which streets to travel. Biking signs were similarly of little help and they pointed in places they shouldn’t. Only from navigating with GPS and dead reckoning from the sun and mountains provided reliable guidance.
Traveling east on Sixth Street in Corona during rushhour I was misled by a street sign and biking notice that said Magnolia Street, which I wanted, went off to the left. It wasn’t Magnolia, a mistake that cost another 30-minutes. Finally, at 6 p.m. I reached Riverside and checked into one of the several motels on the main drag.
I achieved my objective. The day’s total was just short of eight hours riding with 51 miles traveled.