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July 30, 2005

A Fair View of Costa Mesa

In March, during my last vacation, I took it upon myself to hop aboard my trusty steed and explore the city of Costa Mesa by bicycle.

I had in mind combining dedicated trails, and mostly bike-laned streets, for a single trip that took in all sections of town.

Why the city hadn't thought of this, was puzzling since they had gone thru the trouble of printing a map showing all bike facilities the city had to offer.

Posting my effort here is my thank you for the 2 years I enjoyed living in Costa Mesa, and bicycling around it.

The staging area: Fairview Park on Placentia Ave., between Adams Ave. on the north, and Wilson on the south.

The official start of the ride: Entrance to park, heading south on Placentia.

Getting there:

By Car:


1. 405 frwy. south to Harbor, then south to Adams, west to Placentia, then turn left, and drive to park.

2. Various other Freeways will bring you eventually to the 55 so you can travel to Newport Blvd. and Harbor, then north to Adams, and left on Adams as above.

3. From south OC take the 5 north to meet the 405.

By Bus and Bike:


1. Foothill Transit #285 from Puente Hills Mall to Brea Mall, then the OCTA #43 to Harbor Blvd. and Adams, then right on your bike as above..

2. Metro #684 from Pomona/Diamond Bar to Brea Mall, transfer to OCTA #43.

3. Coming from the west, or east, you can connect with OCTA #43 anywhere on Harbor and go south or north to Adams as needed.

4. OCTA #'s #29, 47, 53, 57, 59, all go north to Brea Mall, and connect with the #43.

The #57 goes south to Fashion Island.

The #43 goes along the full length of Harbor, connecting with all east/west busses.

5. From the south the OCTA #1 connects with the #55 at Fashion Island in Newport Beach. Take the 55 to Harbor and Wilson. Ride bike west on Wilson to Placentia then north to the park.


From the staging area at the park you go back to the entrance

The ride begins, and ends, at Fairview Park, and there are plenty of dining, and bathroom, choices along the way.

Approximate Distance: 27 Miles.


Start - Fairview park.

South - Placentia Ave. ( Remember the Fire Station on your left for later! )

R - Bike Trail on Victoria Ave., and Victoria Ave. itself.

R - Santa Ana River Bike Trail.

Pass Moon Park, and under frwy.

R - On trail off-shoot and exit onto Cadillac Ave., continuing immediately east on Sunflower Ave.

R - Hyland Ave. which becomes South Coast Dr.

L - Fairview Rd.

R - Sunflower Ave.

R  - Bristol St.

L - Paulorino Ave.

R - Red Hill Ave.

R - Bristol St.

L - Bear St.

L - South Coast Dr.

L - Fairview Ave.

L - Arlington St.

R - onto sidewalk at Newport Blvd.

Enter Bike Trail and turn right on trail at Fair Dr.

L - Fairview Rd.

R - Newport Blvd.

L - 19th St.

R - Irvine Ave.

R - 17th St.

R - Placentia Ave.

R - Onto Bike Trail near Fire Station.

L - On Trail at Harbor Blvd.

L - On Trail as it goes past apartments, and golf course. ( keep sharp lookout for the turn ).

L- Onto Tanager Dr. at entrance to Golf Course ( Golf Course Dr. ).

R - Oriole Dr.

L - Placentia Ave., and back to Fairview Park.

The ride:

The ride begins by traveling south past Costa Mesa Golf Course and Estancia High School. On your left, as you pass the Fire Station, take notice of the eastbound bike trail for later.

Along most of Victoria avenue, west of Placentia, is a very nice, 1/2 mile, Bike Trail with sidewalk and plants seperating it from the street.

Continuing on a brief downhill stretch of Victoria keep a sharp eye out for the entrance to the river trail.

Upon entering the Santa Ana River Bike Trail for the ride north you begin a journey that takes you past the Talbert Nature Preserve, on the backside of Fairview Park, and then the Mesa Verde Country Club.

As you pass the Preserve on this "spur" of the main trail you reach a bridge which you cross to enter another "spur" that goes under Adams Ave. and then past the country club.

After going under the freeway you take an immediate right onto a short trail, lined with trees on either side, that provide a beautiful canopy for a shady respite from the suntan you are developing on this trip.

After the rolling ride that started the journey comes a relatively flat stretch all the way to South Coast Plaza.

It begins by passing several business parks, Ikea, the L.A. Times bldg., and AAA. This is followed by a residential area before going around South Coast Plaza, and over the 405 to Paulorino Ave..

The ride to reconnect with Bristol goes past business parks as it skirts the west side of John Wayne Airport.

Along here you will hear the rumble of passenger jets and, if you are lucky, you will glimpse 1 to 3 landings and/or take-offs.

The highlight of the ride on Bristol is the humongous American Flag waving gloriously in the wind above the Bristol St. Mini-Storage Complex.

This thing is magnificent to see, and sent a thrill of patriotic pride coursing through me as I continued on my way.

Make a left onto Bear St., just before the 73 frwy., and you next pass the Newport Mesa Unified School District Education Center Complex, and then a residential district.

Before going to the west side of South Coast Plaza you pass Schiffer Park, and the excesively opulent Trinity Broadcasting Complex.

Regardless of your branch of Christianity you have heard of, if not actually watched, the TBN cable network at 1 time or another, and this ride is the perfect opportunity to satisfy your curiosity with a visit to the International Headquarters.

While not my cup of tea I do highly recommend the book/gift shop, and taking a walk through the building.

Oh, and DON'T forget to go potty!

Trust me, you have NEVER seen bathrooms like these, and will never forget the experience.

Check out the virtual reality theatre, walk on one of the sets, and sit where the audience sits during the taping of a show in a studio.

Ok, by now you are heartily sick of dealing with all the freeways so be of good cheer as this is soon done with, and what follows is a long stretch of flatness beginning with a residential stretch to Orange Coast College, and Costa Mesa High School, at Fairview and Arlington.

Up next is a jaunt past Tewinkle Park, around the Orange County Fairgrounds, and past Vanguard University, and Costa Mesa City Hall, and Police Headquarters.

The highlights of this stretch are the park, and the Bike Trail, most of which is on Fair Dr. between Newport Blvd. and Fairview.

Tewinkle, known for its big hill, has a Bark Park, and a newly opened Skateboard Park.

The Bike Trail is seperated from the street by sidewalk.

The next stretch of the journey takes you past the Minaret of the Ali Baba Motel, and to Triangle Square, a shopping complex once meant to be a major draw to this section of town when opened, but now undergoing hard times as first Nike and, more recently, Virgin Megastore have either pulled up stakes or announced the intention to do so.

With its surviving Theatre, and Bookstore, a revival is being attempted by bringing in 1st Sutra Lounge and, soon, a Mexican restuarant to draw a new clientel.

After a trip along 19th, and Irvine, the next section takes you along the 17th St. Shopping District all the way to Newport Blvd. before taking a rolling ride up to Placentia on the lower westside of town.

The newly re-paved Placentia Ave. is part of an attempt to fix up, and re-develope the westside of town, and this section has mostly businesses along it.

Remember the Fire Station?

We are now back in front of it.

The next stretch of the route is a nifty Bike Trail that snakes past the golf Course on your left, and 1st residences, then Harbor Blvd., on your right as you head a few blocks north.

You pass Fairview Developmental Center, past Fair Dr., and turn left just past Merrimac for a short jaunt through the Harbor Villa Apartments, and the north side of the Golf Course.

The fact that the lane stripes, and smooth pavement, of the beginning is not universal is disappointing.

A mixture of concrete, and gravelly lanes, some stretches are a tad rough on the tires.

The trail ends at the entrance to the golf course, and you exit , and head west on Tanager Dr. passing Tanager Park, and then through a residential area until you reach Placentia, turn left and go up the short hill back to Fairview Park.

Anyone interested in exploring the city of Costa Mesa, and all it has to offer, will find this cycling trip well worth the time, and effort.

July 30, 2005 in Riding Orange County | Permalink


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