By The Numbers: By Pall Gudgeirsson, Assistant City Manager and City Treasurer
“Time has come today…Can’t put it off another day” (Time Has Come Today by The Chambers Brothers)
Having run the Beach Trail and pier circuit 1,300 times while training for 5k’s to marathons, I never seem to tire of the view, the sound of the surf, or even the occasional blast of a train horn. But has the time come today for a change in venue? Although I have hiked, biked and run bits of the City’s 20-mile trail system over the years, I had never traversed the entire trail system at one go until two weekends ago during the “heat wave.” My actual mileage was 24.25 which included a few added miles for yo-yo’s—going back and forth on a few side trails—a few excursions to the top of hills and perhaps a wrong turn or two.
Using the city’s superb and informative Trail and bike ways map (glossy color map available for sale but free on the city’s website)—I hit the trails with my Montrail hiking shoes and trusty Nikon with 50mm lens to document my inland journey. So, here are a few of my observations and thoughts on hiking our dusty trails where your toes will get dirty:
Forster Ridgeline Trail: The panoramic views are astonishing on a clear day where you can see Catalina at a distance of only 28,746 longboards away and city views. Don’t miss the rock garden with a variety of quotes with my favorite being the apt ‘scuse me while I kiss the sky.’ Study the rocks and learn. The old horse corral, with trough and old fences, harkens back to what once was. Ridgeline Terrace is the city’s version of Stonehenge—you have to see it to appreciate it. Bring lunch.
Prima Deshecha North & South: Loping from the tip of San Juan to the edge of Camp Pendleton, great views of golf courses, parks and Talega homes. I was really envious on a hot day when I heard the splish-splash of swimming pools as I hiked by.
Talega Trail: The highest point of the trail lies along the edge of Orange County where you have fantastic views toward the ocean. The dump to the north reminds us of environmental reality.
Cristianitos: Borders the Donna O’Neill Land Conservancy, a growing habitat reserve. A long stretch—be sure to have lots of water. Great training trails for actual mountain hiking.
Rancho San Clemente Ridgeline Trail: From rooftops in the business park to Steed Park to stunning 360-degree views from the top. A highlight is Knob Hill where you can sit and absorb the views and ocean breeze. Steep hike to get there but worth it.
Coastal Trail: After finishing this column I will hit the trail for a run.
With Mt. Baden-Powell, Mt. Islip and Cucamonga Peak behind me and Mt. Whitney and Iceland’s hiking hub in the highlands, Landmannalaugar (not to be confused with Eyjafjallajökull) before me, the city’s eight trails will continue to be great for training.
If you are looking for a less crowded alternative to the great Beach Trail with a few hills thrown in, then give the inland trails a try. Hike ‘em, run ‘em, bike ‘em. Don’t put it off another day.
“The mountain is calling and I must go”