Friday, August 18, 2017

Moreno Valley - San Jacinto Wildlife Refuge - Jack Rabbit Trail

One clear day late last autumn I hopped on my bike and headed out to the seemingly empty land between Moreno Valley and San Jacinto, partly to see if the lonely palm tree I could see from the distance was really as lonely as it seemed from afar.

I was spending too much time in the dullest part of Moreno Valley, and it was a relief to escape the confine of the city straight into nothingness as the busy and straight Alessandro Blvd becomes a less-traveled 2 laner and even developed a bend as its' name changes to Theodore Rd. Straying off the main road just then I turned right onto the old Davis Rd, whose cracky pavement soon gave way to a relatively well-graded packed dirt after a gate. No more roars of motor vehicles or city trash blowing about. Just chirpy brushes full of birds that don't seem to realize that they would have gone entirely undetected by me if only they would quit chirping.

After the 2nd car gate Davis Rd becomes indecisive about whether it wants to remain a dirt lane or become a paved one, and short stretches of tarmac comes and goes between the horse ranches. There was really not much to see until I descended a little hill to find the entrance to San Jacinto Wildlife Preserve. It is quite a little oasis in the convincingly parched valley.

I suspect that the place looks quite different now and there might even be water in the basin to the east of the preserve, marked on the maps as 'Mystic Lake'. When I rolled thru there last December, though, nary a drop of water was to be found outside the preserve.

I spent an hour or so happily slow-spinning the preserve trails, stalking water birds and the many hawks and kestrels patrolling the area. It was so nice and peaceful (mostly for me, but probably not much for the fish and little squirrels trying to sneak around under the gaze of all those hungry raptors!).

As the day wore on, though, I rolled back out to the main road and took the cattle-fields-lined Bridge Rd short cut from Ramona Expressway to Gilman Springs Rd in the vain hope of espying some cool game birds along the way, but the only creatures that came out to greet me were a bunch of curious cows munching leisurely on their lunch.

The turn off onto the narrow old Jack Rabbit Trail from Gilman Springs Rd is unmarked. This used to be the main (or rather, the one and only) connection between Beaumont and Moreno Valley before Highway 60 was built. It was practically abandoned once the main highway opened in 1936 (especially once the 60 was upgraded to a freeway in 1956), and is now quite in disrepair with broken up pavement and a few landslid spots toward the crest.

There is only one house along the lonely lane, and its owner came riding down the slope on his touring bike just as I got 1/3 of the way up it. We had a chat and I went on to tag the north end of the trail (Jack Rabbit Trail now ends on Hwy 60, not quite a thru road by bike) before coming back up to meet him again near the crest. His name is Dave Major and he is riding across the States with his daughter Martie, a few bits of it at a time. How cool is that, ay??

Anyhow, I survived the bumpy descent back to Gilman Springs and back to town just before the evening rush hours commenced. That was quite a relief (all the tire marks the many cars left on Gilman Springs from veering unexpectedly onto the narrow road shoulder were getting on my nerves quite a bit). It was quite a nice little day ride to perk up my miserable year in Moreno Valley. That taught me a lesson... there are wonderful views to see even in hell, you just have to hop onto the bike and go find them!

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Thanks for stopping by. Be safe on the roads!