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The Walnut Trail shares a wide corridor with an active railroad line, a BNSF route, through a section of Orange County known for producing oranges and strawberries. The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad line originally provided a vital link for transporting iron from the Midwest into the Los Angeles area. In 1971, Amtrak assumed operation of the line, using it to transport passengers between Chicago and Los Angeles. BNSF officially maintains the track and uses it for freight rail, in conjunction with Amtrak and Metrolink passenger service.
The trail itself begins off Sand Canyon Avenue just south of the railroad tracks. This well-maintained, smooth-paved trail follows the tracks heading northwest. You will cut through a section of the lush Oak Creek Golf Club before reaching Jeffrey Road, where you can hop on a portion of the Jeffrey Open Space Trail. For those continuing on the Walnut Trail, an overpass here provides safe, uninterrupted travel.
Beyond Jeffrey Road, the trail comes to grassy Hoeptner Park, which is a nice spot to rest or have a picnic. From here the trail crosses some pleasant neighborhoods. There are access points all along the trail, making it a popular commuting route.
The trail passes underneath Yale Avenue and continues to busy Culver Drive, where another trail overpass carries you across the road. In addition, there are access points to the street and sidewalks if you need to connect to sections of town. The trail continues through Flagstone Park toward the end of the trail, providing a nice rest spot before you make the final push.
At Harvard Avenue the trail ends, but there are multiple connections here to bike lanes and other trails in Irvine's extensive network. Pick up the Harvard Trail to head south to the San Diego Creek Trail, or cross the road and train tracks to join the Peters Canyon Trail.
To reach the Sand Canyon Avenue trailhead, take the Sand Canyon Avenue exit from Interstate 5. Go south on Sand Canyon Avenue for 0.5 mile and across the train tracks. The trail is on the right (west). There is no parking at this endpoint, but you might find on-street parking along Oak Canyon Road, which is about 100 yards south of the trail.
To reach the Harvard Avenue endpoint, take the Culver Drive exit from Interstate 5. Take Culver Drive south for 0.5 mile to Walnut Avenue. Turn right (west) on Walnut and go 0.5 mile to Harvard Avenue. Go left (south) on Harvard for 0.5 mile, crossing the train tracks to reach the trail. There is limited on-street parking here and on nearby neighborhood streets.
The Jeffrey Rd. overpass on the Walnut Trail is open. The barriers are gone. There is a sign at the far side about the trail being closed until 2014 (???) but you can ride over the bridge and down past the golf course - to find a fence across the trail about a block from Sand Canyon.
The bikies have trampled the side fence flat and are ignoring this. There was a steady stream of traffic.
The Walnut at this end connects to what is now called the Sand Canyon Side Path on Google Earth. This is a new title for an existing bike/walk heading SW down Sand Canyon to Alton. It crosses the San Diego Creek Trail and you can hop on that one for a loop back.
Heading NE up Sand Canyon from the Walnut is not a happy ride. There are no bike lanes in that bit under the I-5 freeway and traffic is constricted.
Just a freeway and a toll road over from the end of the trail is the "Great Park". We can hope that Irvine is working on some way you can bike into the park, but that will be a "stay tuned" for some time.
It has been about a year since I last visited the Walnut Trail (City of Irvine name) to find that it was blocked at Jeffrey Road while they build a vehicular underpass beneath an active RR line.
Today, while testing a new Terratrike Rover X-5 on the Irvine trails, I turned off to see how they were coming.
They are coming, but they are not there for the bikes yet. The cars are whizzing beneath the tracks. The bike bridge is done, but gated off and it appears there is work remaining on the bridge approaches.
Perhaps next season.
Gazing at the chainlink in his way.
RTC has this as the AT&SF on their maps. It was part of that system. It appears to be one of two developed rail trails in town, the other being the Venta Spur. Any more out there?
But, the signage says Walnut Trail and the "City of Irvine: Named Public Paved Off-Street Trails" map showing all their Class I trails, has it as the Walnut Trail.
As previously pointed out, if you do 0.7 miles of bike lane from the Walnut to the Woodbridge Trail, you have a lot of loop options. The Woodbridge crosses the San Diego Creek Trail, the Freeway Trail and, while the City shows it ending at the far side of the 405 overpass, there is a sidewalk/bikeway that takes it down to the University Trail (Water District Jct.) in Wm. Mason Park.
You can do Figure 8s left and right and more. No more Out & Backs rides. Irvine has a great system.
I have ridden this trail for nearly twenty years coming to it from the San Diego Creek Trail, by North Lake and north on the Yale Loop. All the descriptions and photos of this trail are great.
However, no where is the trail identified by Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe. Rather, signs posted by the city states the trail is called "WALNUT BIKE TRAIL". I photographed one of the signs and post it here.
ROAD BLOCK ON THE AT&SF ROAD – STILL THERE, BUT…
I was out exploring the loop options off the San Diego Creek Bikeway, which took me to the AT&SF. San Diego Creek is the backbone of Irvine’s 42 miles of Class I bikeways. A good number of Class I trails and Class II bike lanes intersect it. Even better, SDCB is almost seamless. There are two on-street crossings. Can’t say that for a lot of the other bikeways.
Take a look…
One loop option was SDCB to Bill Barber Park, pick up the Peters Canyon Bikeway across the street from Bill Barber, take it NE to the AT&SF, then ride the AT&SF SE to Sand Canyon Bikeway, and ride that SW to hit the San Diego Creek Bikeway. From there you can either backtrack down the creek to Jeffrey Rd for a loop down along University Drive and the William Mason Regional Park to rejoin the SDCB at University, and then home.
It was a cunning plan, but I should have read the TailLink page on the AT&SF - first. Twirlymaker warned us in 2008 that there was a block at Jeffrey. Still there and from the looks of things, I doubt that there will be an early 2010 opening. They still have to drive the underpass under the active RR tracks. What do those trails weigh? I know locomotive weight upwards of 100 tons. Better shore it good.
I came up the SDCB, hopped across the intersection at Bill Barber Park to catch the Peters Canyon Bikeway and took that NE to meet the western end of the AT&SF. This trail does not follow a rail line as much as it does a power line right of way. There is enough room that they let it curve back and forth, as you can see in Google Earth: 33.699979° -117.795284°
The AT&SF is not a destination trail (unless you live there). Too short - but a useful connection between Peters Canyon and Sand Canyon. However, it is a pleasant ride on good blacktop with over and under passes and a number of trailside water points. Sure could use those on some of the big rail trails where water points are many miles apart. Nary a restroom to be seen in the two pocket parks along the trail – Flagstone and Hoepfner. Then you hit Jeffrey Rd. where the trail is both blocked and dug up. Check the pix. Big hole there.
The Work Around was to resort to the Class II bike lanes on Jeffrey and Irvine Center Drive. I went over to Sand Canyon Ave. and back up to see the other end of the trail. It’s blocked at Sand Canyon and on both sides of Jeffrey Rd. Guess that means NO!
The rest of the loop went well. There is a nice overpass high above the San Diego Freeway on Jeffrey Rd. Someday Sand Canyon Bikeway will run over to this crossing, but not now. The regional park offered both a wild creek bottom with mountain lions and rattle snakes (none seen today) and the mowed grass picnic-in-the-park-for-a-fee type of park. Cross University Drive and a short leg puts you back on SDCB down in the tidal marsh section. From there, a few miles back to Newport Beach.
You can spend a very nice Saturday morning out exploring the miles of bikeways in Irvine. Good riding. Herds of bikies out playing in the bike lanes. One pulled up to me at a light and said he had passed me twice <g>. Must have a loop of his own going.
Next ride – SDCB to Peters Canyon to Portola, then along Portola for a loop back. There are all sorts of bike paths up there. Do a Google Earth flyover then get your bike out and ride.
The 0.75 mile section of the Walnut Trail / Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe trail between Jeffery Road and Sand Canyon Ave., is closed till early 2010. Jeffery Road is being converted to a RR underpass. Noel keller
The AT&SF Trail also known as the Walnut Trail is just 3 miles long, it connects to bike lanes on all the major streets and provides for several round trip rides. Irvine City Bike maps can be picked up from a rack in their City Hall, Foyer at N33.68630 W117.83605 elev 39’, on Civic Center Drive off Harvard Ave , SWest of Barranca Ave.
At the San Canyon Ave end, the closest parking N33.67526 W117.75755 elev 205’, is available, on the Northeast side of the tracks across Sand Canyon, at several eating establishments. The Walnut Trail Head is just across the tracks on the Southwest side of Sand Canyon N33.67565 W117.76028 elev 194’, it goes Northwest for 1 mile along the METROLINK Tracks through an Industrial area and the Oak Creek Golf Course to, a no light, Street level crossing of busy Jeffery Rd. The next mile meanders in a wider greenbelt to cross under Yale Ave with steep grades in and out of the underpass. (The rise is even steeper if you come from the Harvard end of the Trail.) Continue to weave .5 mile through the greenbelt to Culver Dr. overpass, then a small Park and the Incredible Edible Garden for .5 mile to Harvard Ave N33.70357 W117.79984 elev 58’, were there is off Street parking on dirt for several vehicles.
You may make this a 10 mile off street ride by proceeding Southwest on the Mountain to Sea trail across Barranca Pky to the Coyote Creek Trail N33.68807 W117.81856 elev 58’. Left,3 miles Southeast, along the Coyote Creek behind Woodbridge Shopping Center, N33.67727 W117.80097 elev 97’, to Sand Canyon N33.66373 W117.77213 elev 151’. Turn left, Northeast, on Sand Canyon Trail which parallels Sand Canyon Ave on the Southwest side, back to the Walnut Trail /Sand Canyon end.
Bicycle lanes are available on Harvard and Sand Canyon Ave. Reverse the Route for more descending mileage, Plot the GPS coordinates on Google Earth for an aerial view. By Noel Keller
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