The city of Whittier, CA has come together to offer this great new trail. Located on an old Union Pacific right-of-way, it is a fantastic addition to this Southern California community. A five-mile section of the roadbed has been manicured for the use of walkers, joggers, and cyclists. Lined with drought-tolerant plants and sculptures, it is a pleasant place to spend an afternoon. Completed in January of 09, I had been wanting to get a closer look.
And that is just what Barbara and I got a chance to do this month. With my HS alma-mater planning a mini-reunion in town that evening, I decided it would be a good day to try out this nice alternative to 4-wheeled gas transportation. As a kid, I had always wanted to climb onto the large railroad bridges that loom over some of the local roads. This was the perfect chance to full-fill those childhood desires.
Our day there began where the trail passes through Palm Park. Fred Gatchell, one of my HS classmates, was performing 60′s music to commemorate the reunion. He had set-up near some benches on the trail. There is plenty of parking at this point of the pathway. Traffic had slowed our journey from San Diego, but we arrived in time to enjoy most of Fred’s performance. Mark and Caren were there, tapping their toes in time to the beat, when we walked up. Hugs and handshakes helped start a fun day. You can find Fred’s original music on the web.
From this spot you could see how nicely done this trail is. Smooth pavement and clearly marked lanes for the users were visible in both directions. The nearly level path is bordered on each side with wide areas of native and low-water plants. Fred continued to play as we greeted some of the many locals who walked and rode by. Walking dogs and riding kids were just some of the sights we noticed. Before long, Fred packed up his guitar and music stand, and we all got our bikes ready to ride. Caren couldn’t stay for the bike ride, so the four of us headed south on the trail.
The easy pace we kept, allowed Mark, Fred and I to get a chance to find out what we’ve been up to all these years. Stories of the HS antics brought smiles to our faces as we enjoyed the peacefulness of the ride. Barbara was also enjoying the chance to find out more about my childhood days. We stopped to take photos and see some of the sculptures along the walkway. Soon, we were at the large railroad bridge that crosses over five-points. Since we were on a trek to get a late lunch, we kept moving until we got to a street near the Quad shopping center. A short way off the trail, we found a nice place to eat near the mall.
The trail winds through the town near many of the houses and businesses. It is a convenient way for people to travel around while avoiding the streets. Also, a nice place to get out and enjoy nature away from the crowds. Even though we saw many people, it was never even close to crowded. We also saw some local police on motor-bikes who make sure things stay safe. After a good meal, we continued on to where the trail ends at Mills Rd. We spun a u-turn, this time planning to stop at all the hot-spots.
Where the trail crosses the streets, most of the crossings are well-marked. Some, you have to go a little out of your way and wait for the traffic lights. Many have stop signs, with the trail users getting priority to cross. There are poles and cables to keep you on the trail at some places. It is obvious that a lot of planning and time went into the design of the Whittier Greenway Trail. Good job everyone.
This time, we stopped at the main bridge. Looking out over Whittier from the high vantage point was nice. They installed plaques and displays at that point on the trail. Info about the original railway and the dedication of the trail were included. Some of the larger sculptures are at this point of the trail. We stayed there for a while to take it all in. A bit farther, we strayed off the pathway to tour the HS. Many changes have taken place there in all these years. Things never stay the same. We watched some girls play baseball on one of the fields, and dared each other to hit the running track. No takers on that challenge.
A stop at Dexter Junior High was next. Then we moved on to the park again. Mark and Fred said their goodbyes here. We were to spend time with them that evening, so we made it quick. Barbara and I kept riding to the other end of the trail just past Norwalk Blvd. There is another trestle to cross before the trail stops at the road. We also enjoyed some great ‘junk’ art one of the residences had all along their backyard and fence. Very creative and interesting stuff.
We were impressed with the job Whittier has done with this trail. Although not as out-of-the-way and long as other trails we have ridden, it was a fun, relaxing time. By all means, see for yourself. I know we will be back when the time is right.
Thanks, Turbo Bob.
“Ride a bike, ride a bike, ride a bike.”—Fausto Coppi.
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