The trails described here are less than a mile long, so if you are into trails as exercise, you can skip this web-page. Sally’s Trail however, is the start of the longest walk in Fullerton; 5.5 miles; 11 miles if out-and-back. And it involves only about a mile on sidewalk. More on that at the bottom.
Sally’s Trail (out and back .8 miles total)
The official name is Sally Pekarek Recreational Trail. (She was city liaison for the Fullerton Recreation Riders back in the 1960s.) The trail starts on Malvern on the north west corner of Gilbert and Malvern. Parking is more convenient than it looks. Park on the south side of Albertson’s. Walk behind the store to an opening in the fence. (It is as if they knew we will need access.) Cross Gilbert right there and continue another 30 feet or so. The start of the path is very inviting, quite wide and well-manicured. There is one very disconcerting thing about this trail. Once you enter, there is only one other way out and it is not at the end. (It is half way along where it meets a path to Emery Park.) The path is tree lined and very cool in the morning sun, but that’s all it has going for it. There’s no view and even the trees peter out as you near the end. It ends in a concrete block wall. To that block wall and back is .8 mile. At several points along the way you will see manhole covers with the word Edison. That and the sudden end is clear evidence this was not intended to be for the pleasure of walking a trail.
Walk to the Park (out and back 1 mile)
Emery Park is associated with Sally’s Trail because they are connected by a wash. You can’t miss that connection if you start from the trail. (It’s harder to see going from the park to the trail.) From the start of the trail on Malvern, in about a block and a half of walking, the trail opens up into a flat area that may someday be watered and mowed with a picnic table perhaps. Right now it is just this really neat flat area that has steep sides almost all the way around. The surface is carefully cut down to bare dirt 50 feet across. (It just begs something be done with it.)
Sally’s trail continues uphill north another 600 feet but there’s not much of a reason to go there. (It is actually just access to an underground power line which Edison tricked the city into maintaining for them.) From the widened part of the trail to the left is the way to Emery Park. Cross Sunny Ridge and enter a wide wash. It’s another 780 feet, about (a block), to the park. The walk up to the park is easier further on. The wash is very deep and extremely wide but that’s just the natural way the land was at the time the developer put in homes. It is not that wide just to take runoff from the park. From the south most end of the park, back to the beginning of the trail on Malvern is 1.0 miles. There’s a shortcut back that turns this walk into a .9 mi. loop.
Emery Park Loop (.9 mile) The large wash that you were walking in to go the park continues south through a tunnel that goes under a street. The tunnel is meant for walking and leads to a meandering sidewalk between condominiums. It is obviously for the folks that live there to give them access to the park. Walking south, you will see immaculately groomed lawn and beautiful homes, but the eucalyptus that have grown up there steals the show. The trail empties out into a parking lot on Sunny Ridge just a few hundred feet from Malvern where you entered Sally’s Trail.
Emery Park as a Starting Point
This park is a bit big for a neighborhood park, but it has the standard issue of playground equipment and meandering sidewalks but no drinking water or restrooms. It’s 1,500 feet long, not quite two blocks, to walk its full length. (It is convenient to park on the street next to the park on Sunny Ridge. Sunny Ridge is the street going north from Malvern just west of where Sally’s Trail begins.) Enter the park and walk north. Continue the walk on a the trail becomes a parallel sidewalk to the sidewalk next to Sunny Ridge. There’s absolutely nothing there in the way of a goal, but worse the trail is like being in jail. A steel fence locks you in for several blocks. You are trapped yet they allow you to see out. Take the sidewalk instead. There is something to appreciate though. The Sunny Ridge Drive itself. It is worth remembering the name of this road if you like Fullerton trails because at the north end is access to several very important walking trails. Sunny Ridge, where it ends at Rosecrans is a parking place for three trails described in the web-pages; Clark Park, Hawks Pointe, Rosecrans and Castlewood.
A Very Long Journey (5.5 miles one way)
It was mentioned almost as a subtitle to skip Sally’s Trail if you want exercise. But this trail can be the start of the longest dirt trail in Fullerton. Park in Amerige Heights Center. Walk behind Albertsons, cross Gilbert and enter Sally’s Trail. All you need from there is to click on the map at the right. Or if you want to preview it in words…
After 1,500 feet (about a block and a half) you go to the left, cross a street and into a wash that goes along the south side of Emery Park. Climb up to the park and pass through it north. For meeting friends, a better place to park might be next to Emery Park itself. It is on Sunny Ridge just half a mile north of Malvern. After passing through the park take the Sunny Ridge sidewalk for about a mile north to Rosecrans. (Except for this one mile, the entire walk is on dirt trail.) Walk west about a block to pick up the Castlewood Trail next to the fire station and then go for more than a mile with the best view of Coyote Hills there is. (For more on this part see the web-page Castlewood Trail then do a search; keyword Sunny Ridge.) After leaving that trail walk east on the sidewalk of Castlewood Drive where you will see a large sign for the Nora Kuttner Trail. This goes all the way to Euclid. You walk north along Euclid and cross at the signal on Laguna Road. Right there it’s easy to see how to enter Laguna Lake Park. After walking the length of that park and then the lake itself you will come to Cooke’s Corner which Juanita Cooke Trail passes through. You can go south to the court house or go north to make your journey in the same direction you started. You can cross Imperial and go clear into Los Angeles along side the Union Pacific rail line. This would be wonderful if didn’t have to share that path with the occasional diesel locomotive. That’s because north of Imperial, the track is no longer abandoned. Or you can stop at Imperial right next to Walmart. That’s 11 miles out-and-back. But. . . Instead of the “-and-back” part you can meet a friend there for lunch. Walking past the front of Walmart there’s Wendy’s and around the corner a Cuban Restaurant that offers a meal that tastes familiar but seems exotic. For those who remember the days before cell phones, meeting a friend who drove was burdened by the need for precise timing. That meant the walkers had to adjust their pace to keep on schedule. It also meant no side trips or time spent taking pictures or chatting with folks going the other way.
Click on a picture to see it full screen . . .
Suggestions For Parks and Recreation
The park architect clearly had in mind for cars to be parked alongside Emery Park. The road widens right there. All of Fullerton parks that are next to streets allow parking there. The park is above the sidewalk but gradually gets lower toward the end where the Emery Park sign is located. It is only gradually down as you get closer so there’s something of a dilemma faced by those that park further up, as to how far to walk toward the shallow end before scampering up the dirt bank. (It is easy to see that kids scamper up the steep bank in many places.) The trees need the dirt around them so the steep rise must remain steep where the trees are. Where there is a space between the trees, I think it would be well worth spending a couple hours with a hoe and make a number of paths down at an angle at various places.
The trail that leads north from Emery Park along Sunny Ridge is something of a mistake. It could be that the neighbors find it to be an embarrassment. Like Sally’s Trail it isn’t used by anyone because it goes along the sidewalks but the sidewalks don’t trap you in. There is only the ends where you can escape. You are trapped behind a well-built fence that only a teenager could climb over and only a little child could crawl under. There is a sidewalk that is much more accessible that is parallel to the trail. If there’s any complaints about this, use that as an excuse to remove this mistake. Get rid of the metal fence for the entire length and devote the full width to bark. That will bring more attention to the trees.
The railing would be expensive to remove. Something easy to remove is a trail head sign in the middle of a decomposed granite sidewalk that is only 184 feet long? 33°53’16.3″N 117°58’15.6″W. Like all information signs. It says nothing. But that’s OK if just its presence says there’s a park or a trail begins here. But there’s nothing here.
Except for the wide flat area (where you go left to Emery Park) Sally’s trail has strong fences on either side the whole distance. That’s scary. There’s two or three places where the fence can be opened to alleys. That would help with the claustrophobia. Right near the beginning is an opening into somebody’s back door. Even if they don’t mind, few would use it thinking that it would be an invasion of privacy. Opening it up at various other places as entrances to the trail would give purpose to an otherwise useless trail. That purpose would be to gather neighbors to use the trail to get to Emery Park.