A Walk on the Wild Side: The Sights and Sounds and Smells of the Trail to Nowhere

So, the other day I decided to take a trip along the Trail to Nowhere, the second phase of a supposed recreation trail that doesn’t even line up with the disastrous failure known as Phase I.

FFFF has shared lots of images of the proposed trail, yet hasn’t even begun to scratch the surface of the, er, ahem, colorful neighborhood through which it passes. Well, “neighborhood” isn’t quite the right word to use, because except for a couple of Truslow Avenue house backyards it is bordered on both sides by land zoned for industry with all of the sorts of uses, legal and non-permitted, one might expect.

Of course we’ve read all about the ill-designed and ill-conceived Phase I, ballyhooed by City staff as the predecessor that makes Phase II inevitable. Well, plausible, anyway. Phase I is a repository of graffiti, garbage, and occasional residents. The start of this alleged trail is on the old UP bridge over Harbor Boulevard. FFFF readers may remember this site as the nocturnal murder of a gentleman.

Murderer’s Row…
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure…

The complete lack of maintenance on Phase I ought to have been a warning to our City Council. But it hasn’t even been noticed. The pungent smell of human urine permeates the weeds behind the Elephant Packing House. But, so what? It’s trail-ish.

Phase I’s inauspicious beginning. It gets worse.

The view looking westward from Phase I isn’t promising. Here you see that Phase I doesn’t even line up with the proposed Phase II corridor; and the slope of Highland Avenue as it dips down to its railroad underpass makes the cross-slope ADA non-compliant.

The Phase I trail has disappeared.

Crossing Highland (damn, watch out for traffic!), we get to Phase II. FFFF has already shared multiple posts about soils contamination in this location. There are lots of testing wells for carcinogenic Trichlorethylene (TCE), but nobody in City Hall seems to be concerned about moving and exporting, or alternatively, remediating these soils. It certainly isn’t in the project budget submitted in the grant application to the State.

Well, well, well…

The folks who frequent the Trail to Nowhere habitually leave evidence of their presence.

Further west we get a glimpse back eastward of the long, blank backsides of old industrial buildings, a view not likely to cause cries of elation among the brainwashed green grass/blue skies crowd.

Is it safe? Is it clean?

Across Richman Ave in our westward trek is where things really get fun. Razor wire seems to be the decoration of choice among the junkyards in this segment of the Trail to Nowhere.

Small auto/tire use is prevalent along the trail, of course. And more backsides of buildings.

The trees won’t block the view…
You mean there’s more?

As we press onward we see the view of more businesses that we would enjoy if we were recreating on the trail.

Bring on the niños.

There’s a metal coating business along the route, and even an asphalt plant! The odors are unmistakable, and the industrial education value is priceless!

Smell that smell, bike riders.

We would be remiss if, at this point, we didn’t pause to pay our respects to Emmanuel Perez, fate still unknown.


A bit later we come across a long masonry wall on which some talented young urban artists have left their mark for aesthetic posterity.

Sure is colorful…
Garbage in, garbage out. Indeed.

The final four or five hundred yards of our journey run parallel to the Burlington Northern/ Santa Fe main line tracks that run about 50 feet away, and about 3 feet higher than the “walking and bike” trail. I leave it to each reader to judge the propriety of this strip as a positive recreational opportunity. But see below for the “sound” part of the program.

Over there is run and play and enjoy… (Photo by Julie Leopo/Voice of OC)

Now, finally, we arrive at our all-important destination. The back corner of an empty Independence Park parking lot. This is a park you might want to go to if you lived in this part of Fullerton; but really, what soft-headed urban adventurer would choose this route?

You have arrived at your destination.

Finally I offer a sample of the auditory delights awaiting the hopeful recreation enthusiast on the Trail to Nowhere – apart from the sounds of auto repair, metal work, spray painting and tire changing. The BNSF mainline freight trains rumble alongside our trail, and are not shy in expressing their presence. You can barely hear yourself think. These trains are often a mile long.

Now Gentle Friends, my photo essay is over, and my duty to show Fullertonions the ambiance adjacent to the proposed Trail to Nowhere is fulfilled. Most people, when asked, would say an old railroad right-of-way conversion to a rec trail is good, because it is good – in principle. But folks perusing these images would be well-advised to traverse the strip themselves, perhaps with police escort; and, after enjoying the sights and sounds and smells, consider whether or not the Trail to Nowhere should be redeveloped with the area, in a thoughtful broader plan, instead of the way it proposed now; and, whether the State grant money might be better spent elsewhere.

41 Replies to “A Walk on the Wild Side: The Sights and Sounds and Smells of the Trail to Nowhere”

  1. That’s a pretty comprehensive condemnation of the ill-conceived mess, from start to finish – literally.

    Only an idiot could see success here. It would be Phase 1 all over again.

    1. But! How many trees were planted in phase I? Yay. We won! Okay, many have bn cut down, several tagged trunks, courtesy of my FTT homies. I’d like do a post on trees/ Ph I

  2. Just wow. You get the feeling that the people who planned this and the people who support it have never actually traversed this wasteland. There is zero hope for this being anything other than a massive boondoggle. Or maybe I should say Zahra hope.

    No one in City Hall seems afraid this will be pinned on them. And they’re probably right.

  3. Thank you for the pictures. They really help illustrate the shitty area this thing was supposed to pass through. And it really doesn’t go anywhere and is ugly as Hell getting there.

    No one ever thought this through.

  4. Basically this trail just goes through a rather dilapidated industrial area for half a mile. Who would want to use that?

  5. Looks exactly like what you’d expect an abandoned rail right of way to look like. Maybe a little nicer.

    It would make a nice Class 1 trail.

  6. I would like to think that something positive could happen here .THE Hillcrest PARK “DISPOSABLE” STAIRS TO NOWHERE surprising has become quite a hit with exercise enthusiast. There are some exercise gyms close to this trail that may use it. Would like to see the house get a face lift which would help benefit this area .every bit helps. Im just afraid this town .another Fox theater . Tomorrow at 3 should be an interesting discussion.

  7. Hooger would sing the virtues of a class 1 bike trail through the Brea landfill. “It’s an upgrade of this strip” he would say. “This asset will improve the whole dump!” “Build it and they will come!”

  8. But what about the shelter it will provide for the “homeless”? Does the trash enclosure at UP Park count for Fullertons RENA numbers? It should since a white male presently claims it as his abode and has a lock on it.

      1. How about we get rid of the cop and firewhiner unions instead? That way we might have some money to fix our streets.

    1. It would be a real shame for you boohoos when the State finds out about the deliberate fraud on the application.

  9. Word on the street is that your boy Dunlap pussied out because people were being mean to him week after week.

    Man, get a spine.

      1. Really? Hmm. You may need to reflect on that.

        That’s the profile in courage we came to expect with staunch Republicans Jones and Bankhead.

    1. Mean to him = the public lobbying for what it wanted resulting in a total reversal? This is how democracy is supposed to work.

      Meanwhile I was told week after week here that I lost, to cry more, that this was a dead issue.

      Guess not.

  10. Jeez, that’s worse than I thought. The council did try to nix it, but our pal AZ played the race and poverty cards, so that was it.

    Trees ain’t gonna cut it here. They will need a sealed walled tube for people to walk through without kids running into freight trains or stepping on needles.

    1. Race card?

      Common sense broke out and the city decided NOT to pass up the chance to bring our tax dollars back to Fullerton and implement a long standing part of the 2012 Bicycle Master Plan. Why even have plans if you’re not going to implement them when the opportunity arises to do it affordably?

      It’s not clear to me how they got off track in the first place. But in the end, the decision to nix the trail was simply indefensible and would have become an election issue, given that the grant could not be repurposed for any projects they had ready to go.

      So they course corrected.

      1. The games not over, Hoogerbooger. The State of California is fucked up thanks to drones like you. But will the Department of Natural Resources pay for a grant based on missing information and outright lies. We shall see.

        1. Anything could happen. It seems over to me. I wouldn’t call anything I’ve seen reported about the application an “outright lie.” There are errors but nothing likely to put the project at risk.

          1. 105,000 users a year? A deliberate omission of TCE contamination?

            Errors? That’s the new term for Alice Loya’s lies?

            1. There’s another aspect previously posted. The construction costs in the application are wildly underestimated. I have no idea who put that together, but something tells me it was cooked up to meet the grant/local share formula.

              They show drinking fountains 1/4 mile from a water line, but the unit cost was just pulled out of Dodge.

              1. And as you pointed out, inflation makes the estimate even more dated. Then there’s the problem dealing with all the monitoring wells – not in the budget at all – a fact withheld from the State in the application. This thing is so fucked up – even if they could find somebody who wanted to use it.

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