Santa Ana River Trail

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A photo of the trail in Huntington Beach, looking upstream.

The Santa Ana River Trail is a multi-use trail complex that runs alongside the Santa Ana River in southern California. The trail stretches 30 miles from the Pacific Ocean at Huntington Beach along the Santa Ana River to the Orange/Riverside county line.[1][2] Planned extensions of the trail reach to Big Bear Lake in San Bernardino County. When completed, it will be the longest multi-use trail in Southern California, at approximately 100 miles (160 km).[3] In 1989, the Los Angeles Times described the path as "a veritable freeway for bicycles."[4] Since early 2016, into autumn 2017,[5] presence of prohibited tent camps run rampant along a 6.5 mile stretch centered near Angels Stadium has resulted in the trail rendered incapable of its original intended use.[6] As of April, 2018, the prohibited tent camps has been cleared, and the trail was reopened.


In 1977, the bike path was designated a National Recreation Trail.[3] In 1990, safety on the trail became a concern when it was occupied by homeless populations and street gangs.[7] An increased police presence in 2009 led to a reduction in crime, though pockets of homeless camps have reappeared under some bridges along the trail. In 2016 the density of the homeless camps have increased creating excess trail debris and garbage.[7]

In 2005, heavy rains caused extensive erosion on the path, requiring repairs from the state at about $1 million, part of an approximately $43 million clean-up in Southern California occasioned by the disaster.[8]


The asphalt-paved path is 12-feet wide, divided into two lanes so cyclists may ride abreast; however, cyclists must yield to pedestrians and runners (who are considered pedestrians by the law) at all times. As of 2006, 70 miles (110 km) of the path were complete; when finished, in conjunction with the equestrian path, the trail is expected to bridge three counties, touching on 17 cities and two national forests.[3]


Since 1985, the trail is the avenue of the annual "Riverside to Surfside" bicycling event, formerly known as "Smog to Surf", in which cyclists ride the trail from Riverside, Corona or Anaheim to Huntington Beach.[9][10]


  1. ^ "O.C. parks: Your guide to taking a hike". OC Register. 2006-08-02. Retrieved 2009-04-03. 
  2. ^ Stienstra, Tom (2007). Moon California Camping: The Complete Guide to More Than 1,400 Tent and RV Campgrounds (15 ed.). Avalon Travel. p. 785. ISBN 1-56691-831-6. 
  3. ^ a b c Mitchell, Patrick (2006). Santa Ana River Guide: From Crest to Coast - 110 Miles Along Southern California's Largest River System. Wilderness Press. p. 7. ISBN 0-89997-411-2. 
  4. ^
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  7. ^ a b Moilanen, Renee (2000-10-09). "Bumps Along the Bike Trail; When Crime Trails Off; More Police Patrols of Santa Ana River Bikeway Bring Cyclists, Joggers Back". Los Angeles Times (Orange County Edition). p. 6. Retrieved 2009-04-03. Ten years ago, street gangs and homeless people claimed the Santa Ana River Bikeway as their own.... Police attribute the plunge in crime to more patrols, gang sweeps and the dismantling of homeless camps.  |section= ignored (help)
  8. ^ Saillant, Catherine; Sharon Bernstein (2005-01-25). "Roads' storm repairs costly". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-04-03. 
  9. ^ Paul, Jacquie (2005-08-24). "Along for the ride: Smog to Surf promotes bicycling for all". The Press-Enterprise. Retrieved 2009-04-03. 
  10. ^ Bowles, Jennifer (2006-10-09). "Lack of funding for new reservoirs draws fire". The Press-Enterprise. Retrieved 2009-04-03. As it stands, starting lines for the annual "Smog to Surf" ride from Riverside to Huntington Beach, changed this year to the more politically correct "Riverside to Surfside," begin Saturday in Riverside and Corona but riders won't be able to go along the river until they hit Orange County past the Prado Dam. 

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