Acacia Park and Fullerton Creek Greenbelt Trail

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This trail gets a prize for being the most pastoral trail so close to a busy city. It follows Fullerton Creek from where it emerges out of Yorba Linda Blvd to Acacia Elementary School. It has a potential to being even more wonderful if the paths which exist now that go down closer to the creek are made safer for older folks.
___Pastoral isn’t the right word, sylvan perhaps. Fullerton Creek is a babbling brook at the bottom of a wide crevasse. Riparian is the technical word for growth on the sloping sides of a ravine that is much wider that the water ever gets. It is deep and wide because of the type soil, not so much because of the strength of the flow there. It is important to note that from the output of the Fullerton Dam to the south end of Acacia Park, is the only place where the Fullerton Creek flows over dirt. From that point on it is not only concrete lined but in most places covered. Fullerton Creek joins Coyote Creek in Buena Park out of site. The walk associated with Acacia park goes up one side of Fullerton Creek and down the other side. The official part of the trail is at the level of the park but you can’t help but look down and appreciate the sylvan nature of the riparian habitat.

_____The lawn part of Acacia Park is a regular park with play equipment and drinking fountains and picnic tables. There’s also exercise equipment for adults. The term Greenbelt Trail seems to be associated with Acacia Park. It’s not clear why. (It may be political in getting some federal grant or something.) Parking, like at most parks is along the road that goes past the park. In this case both sides are OK to park on. The road is called Fullerton Creek Drive. To get there, just go to the end of Yorba Linda Blvd (at State College) but continue straight across. You can see the park while waiting for the light. Drive to as far to the end to increase your walk. (You can approach the park from the other end but it is difficult to describe in words. Hmm try entering –> Fullerton Creek Dr and Melody lane into Google Maps. That’s much better than words.) Note that on a school day it might be hard finding a parking place. 


Greenbelt Loop (1.2 mi) which includes the secret passage
The trail was actually designed to be a loop. It isn’t something defined by the Fullerton Walks website. It goes up one side of the Fullerton Creek and down the other. It isn’t obvious that it is a loop though. If you park on Fullerton Creek Drive at the very back (south-east) of the park you will follow a sidewalk a short ways to the worn part of the grass along the creek. It doesn’t look like a trail because it is such a wide area that is absent of grass. Just follow along the side of the creek. The bridge is how you will come back to the park once you are on the other side of the creek. Continue on, appreciating the sylvan nature of the creek. Notice that the park has gotten narrower and you will soon leave the lawn behind. The trail and the creek goes on for a couple of more blocks. Continue your walk around the corner to a toy park that seems rudely exposed to State College. Getting to the other side of the creek used to involve crawling through bushes but landscaping opened it up so you can walk through upright. (Darn. It was fun feeling like you were using a secret passage.) T
he back side of the creek has less temptation to go down into the creek because the bank is steeper. When you get to the bridge you take that to the park and from there take any route over the grass you wish, back to your car.

“Greenbelt” may seem an odd name for Acacia Park. But what it conveys to a driver in 250 milliseconds is . . . “see, Fullerton is very much into green” which is a good use of that time.

The way to the other side (that used to be kind of a secret passage) is in the south west corner of what can only be described as a small showcase park. (Picture to the right.) It is on the busy corner of Yorba Linda Blvd and State College. It is a toy replica of a park. At first you might think it to be a waste of maintenance budget. Who would go where it is so noisy and so small? But it makes a lot of sense when you realize the importance of parks being seen by cars. Seeing something green is nice, but it also announces that the city has parks.

Arboretum entrance is on Yorba Linda Blvd next to the baseball stadium.

Out-and-Back to the Fullerton Arboretum (1.9 mi total) By following the directions above to the showcase park, go across State College, and then another several blocks of sidewalk to the arboretum. That makes a wonderful destination for a picnic lunch or for touring it. It is 25 acres with trails going all over the place, so you may want to drive there if you want to spend any time there at all. (Lots of places to sit and about the most dense place for photography there is.)

Out-and-Back to the Fullerton Dam (2.5 mi total) Instead of going into the parking lot of the arboretum, go instead north on Associated Road. Your goal for this walk is the back side of Fullerton Dam. Yorba Linda to Associated Road is how a car would go. But there’s a far more interesting way to the Fullerton dam. Cross State College and end up on the north side of Yorba Linda. Walk the sidewalk next to the creek and then take the covered bridge to the back side of the creek. Continue on, crossing Almira Ave. The riparian zone continues along side Almira for about a half a block and well worth a walk up there to see what would be an incredible park. Come back down hill and enter the parking lot of the fire station and note how easy it would be to give access to the bottom of the potential park. Find your way through an opening in the fence to the Marshal B. Ketchum University. Wander through the campus and emerge on Associated Road. Looking north you should see your destination, the back side of Fullerton Dam. When you get to the private tennis courts, turn west and go to where you can nearly touch Fullerton Creek. It is so far from people, there will be cranes and ducks as your companions. That of course is the the downstream side of Fullerton Dam. Note how much unused flat land there is there. See if you can think of a use for that. (This point on the Brea dam has lawn, BBQ, restrooms and walking trails.) There’s no technical reason why that land can’t be used for a park.
____That space has a function in dam design however. That distance plus the distance under the dam to where the water enters the penstocks is calculated to consume by friction most of the energy in the outflow of the dam when the water in front of the dam is quite full which means a lot of pressure. For more on the technical aspect of flood control dams, click on –> Dams and Spillways of Fullerton.

Click on a picture to see it full screen.


I feel strongly in the value of pretend parks on busy streets. It provides a touch of green for motorists to see but also provide evidence that there is a park nearby. Trail entrances on streets serve the same purpose even if by unfortunate circumstance there’s no parking nearby. The large sign at the pretend park (State College and Yorba Linda) has the only words the motorists can see. But unfortunately they are the wrong words if you want them to use the trail or the park. It says “Green Belt”. Fullerton has several green belts.  If that sign is ever to be replaced, it should say “Acacia Park” and then an angled arrow that points to the right and up.

There is no other trail in Fullerton that is so close to a creek for such a long way.  There are many smaller trails that lead down to flat spots that are still above the creek. Going down to that lower level would make the experience really lovely. The trails down to those spots are well used by kids but too steep for seniors. A few hours with a hoe could make a less steep trail to a more lovely experience. There should be several of them. The sight down there is really out of this world.

The Fullerton Creek as it flows past the park is probably where the only pictures will be taken. It makes no sense to photograph the park. The best angle is from the bridge, but there’s a rude board which is at an angle. It is exactly the right height to block completely just about anybody’s view. Is there an interesting story behind why they don’t want people to see this magnificent view? Is it they don’t want people to stop on the bridge for fear it might break?

If there is some pressure to have more park investment on the north side of Yorba Linda Blvd, Parks Dept might consider behind the fire station. There’s lots of parking and the slope to the lower level of the creek is easier there and all it takes is a little bit of hoeing and some cutting of shrubs to give the message that it is OK to be there. There is something of a park on the other side of the creek which appears to be maintained (fire hazard anyway) by somebody. It is really lovely. A bridge would make this quite a nice park. 33°53’24.0″N 117°53’14.9″W