Clark Park, at the extreme north-west end of Fullerton, like Craig Park at the north-east end of Fullerton, is a county park. Both parks overlap city boundaries. (Clark Park is mostly in Buena Park.) It makes sense that where city boundaries go through a park, shared maintenance is awkward. County parks are better funded, and are perhaps too well groomed for hikers.
___The first thing noticed in walking into the park on the north east end is a sign that says “bikes not allowed.” It’s not all of them. Bikes are OK on sidewalks. It could be because it is so popular with walkers. In fact, so many people walk the trails here, that the cultural tradition of saying high, or even just nodding to a person going the other way, is lost at this park.
___The original name is appropriate for its location “Los Coyotes Regional Park”, but dog gone it, everything has Coyote in its name. In 1987 its name was changed to honor Ralph B Clark who served as a County Supervisor longer than anyone else. He was well known as an advocate for county bus system and parks.
Clark Park Walking Loop (1.2 mi)
To save the $5 entry fee you can park on Rosecrans next to the main entrance. Driving east on Rosecrans from Beach, you can park on the south side of the road between the two entrances to the park. But the places where there’s an absence of “no parking” fills up pretty fast. In which case, drive on (east) a block or so to park on Sunny Ridge. You then walk west on the sidewalk of Rosecrans to the smaller of the two entrances to the park. For walkers this (east end of the park) is the best place to enter. It leads directly to a well groomed dirt trail going up to a stunning view of the park. The west side of this hill is surprisingly steep, but the trails are professionally cut into the side so they go along the face at an angle. There are several branchings of the trail and as a rule-of-thumb, choosing the one away from the center of the park is the longer path. It makes a 1.2 mile loop if after reaching the main gate you then walk east on the concrete sidewalks to the ball diamonds. From there, find your way to the “dirt stairs” just below the north east corner of the park. This loop can be made a little longer, if after reaching the main entrance you stick to the outside most area of the park and walk alongside the Rosecrans sidewalk. It’s very narrow on the park side of the fence. This is an indication that it isn’t maintained except by the foot falls of those who venture along this longest perimeter.
___ An interesting feature of the south and west portions of the trail is that they are at the crest of a very long berm. It is fun because it give something of a commanding view for such a long walk; very unusual. The berm is probably left over dirt from making the lake or the leveling of the playing fields. The berm also blocks the sight of houses from anywhere inside the park. This is a common and very effective architectural trick especially if the sides of the berm can be watered so it can be green with trees and shrubs. Disneyland used this trick from the very beginning in 1958.
County Parks, if they are sufficiently large, charge cars to enter, but not walkers. (Five dollars on the weekend, three dollars; weekdays.) It makes sense, since people in cars usually use more of the facilities than walkers. After that everything in the park is free to use, unless you want to have a company picnic which reserves a bunch of tables ($100) or even the amphitheater for a bit more money. There’s play equipment, as well as picnic tables . . . bathrooms of course, and a small lake that is stocked with fish you can catch and release. (Fishing license required, even though you don’t take the fish away.) There’s even a structure which looks like play equipment which is well built enough for kids, but obscure enough that when you ask your friends what the mystery objects are, they will be very amused when you tell them it is art. Here’s a list of their facilities: http://www.ocparks.com/parks/ralph/amenities The most important structure is a museum on the east side, which isn’t worth seeing on its own, but is worth seeing when it host events there. “Animals, Then and Now,” for example. The museum has a role even if isn’t open. It demonstrates how important the cliffs across the street are as the source of some fairly notable fossils. http://www.ocparks.com/parks/ralph/interpretive
More on Parking
All parks that charge to get in, can’t keep people from walking in, so there’s something of a tradition, that walking is encouraged. They even go to some trouble to allow free parking on the side of the road at both Craig and here at Clark. (The “No Parking” signs along Rosecrans have been removed for a few hundred feet next to the main entrance. It was mentioned above to park on Sunny Ridge (east on Rosecrans) if along Rosecrans next to the entrance is full. But Sunny Ridge is actually the better place to park if you are driving west on Rosecrans. There’s a small entrance that is less than a block from Sunny Ridge. Going in with your car is worth $5 to take advantage of the facilities of a park. There’s picnic tables and sports venues which require stuff to be brought in. It is also convenient for a family with small kids to drive in rather than walk along the street before going in.
___There is also a walk-through entrance on the south (middle) side of the park which is a cul-de-sac of Hillcrest Road. It is very convenient entrance for the neighborhood, but very hard to get to if you don’t live there. Along Rosecrans or the Sunny Ridge Drive parking places are much more convenient for most users of the park.
There are gates for walkers but they are never closed. But since this park has staff, they would like even hikers to be observant of hours they are open. In the summer, 7:00 AM to 9:00 PM. To be sure click here–> http://www.ocparks.com/parks/ralph.
Google Maps of County Trails
Sometime in 2018, county staff on foot, will be collecting imagery of Orange County trails using the Google Street View Trekker, a wearable backpack with a camera system on top. The Trekker automatically gathers images as it goes. Later the imagery will be stitched together to create the 360-degree panoramas you will be able to see on Google Earth. Here’s a 31 second video of that the Trekker does–> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ae5MzPKAQ4
Click on the pictures to see them as full screen.
Suggestion for Other Parks Departments
This is a county park but there’s a lesson to learn about making dirt trails that go up hill. In the east corner next to Rosecrans there’s a very well built stairs made of dirt reinforced by wood. It seems to hold up over time, and no ruts. But they made an ergonomic mistake that is well worth noting. The spacing of the steps is exactly wrong. Instead of each step being placed where each foot takes a step up, here, unless you are either a giant or a little kid you end up making two steps at the same level, then one step up. Then again two steps along, one step up. That one step up each time is done with the same leg. That is painful in short order. When carving the path into the side of the hill if you cannot make ordinary stair spacing, make it random.