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Inland Empire’s Pacific Electric Trail – Claremont to Fontana on Bike Route 66

The Pacific Electric Railroad was once the largest electric railroad system in the world, extending throughout the Los Angeles metro area.  One of the lines ran from San Bernardino to Los Angeles, its bright red cars a fixture on  the landscape that was dominated by orange groves.  Service was discontinued in the 1950’s, and the right of way was more recently converted into the much heralded 19 mile Pacific Electric Trail (PET) through the region.

The PET  begins in downtown Claremont, runs through Montclair,  Upland near its historic downtown core, Rancho Cucamonga, and crosses under I-15 to Fontana, traversing the entire city and ending at the Rialto border for the time being until that city completes its leg.  The character of the trail changes in each city, and passes near places to eat and stay, parks, and historic structures. Expect numerous roadway crossings, but most are signaled, although a few require extra caution .

The trace of the Pacific Electric Trail (PET) .
The trace of the Pacific Electric Trail (PET) .

The experience is best on a clear, crisp day in winter and spring when snow drapes the San Gabriel and San Bernardino Mountains that form the backdrop to the trail.  Scenery ranges from greenbelt between residential and commercial zones to parkland, to more open spaces.   Many local social groups use the trail for their outings, and Metrolink rail stations along the route provide convenient options for one-way rides.

The Cucamonga Challenge is a major 5K, 10k, & cycling event to promote fitness by utilizing the PET. Proceeds from the Challenge are used to construct and improve trail amenities along the PET and to restore the Historic Etiwanda Depot. The 10th annual Challenge is Saturday, May 16, 2015. Visit http://www.petrail.org for info or write info@petrail.org with questions.

The western trail terminus is in Claremont, near the Claremont Colleges, a great recreation resource for students there.
The western trail terminus is in Claremont, near the Claremont Colleges, a great recreation resource for students there.  A  Metrolink station is a few blocks from the trailhead in the leafy downtown district.
Metrolink train at Old Town Upland.
Metrolink train at Old Town Upland.
A typical trail section through Rancho Cucamonga.
A typical trail section through Rancho Cucamonga.
One of the most interesting bike bridges ever, this restored railroad trestle is adorned with Route 66 era design.
One of the most interesting bike bridges ever, this restored railroad trestle in Rancho Cucamonga is adorned with Route 66 era design. It is also one of the main trailheads with facilities.
The historic Etiwanda Depot, undergoing restoration.
The historic Etiwanda Depot in eastern Rancho Cucamonga is undergoing restoration.
Just east of I-15 are some wide open spaces in Fontana.
Just east of I-15 are some wide open spaces in Fontana.
PET cuts through the Fontana Civic Center area with the dramatic backdrop of Mt. San Gorgonio.
The PET cuts through the Fontana Civic Center area with the dramatic backdrop of Mt. San Gorgonio. Another Metrolink station is a few blocks to the south.

Ventura – Cycling and Camping

Ventura is a popular spot for RV campers to stay and enjoy the beaches.  Bike trails along the coast and up to Ojai make the area a scenic cycling paradise. A new trail parallel to Hwy 101 along the coast connects cyclists’ favorite Rincon Parkway to Rincon Beach just south of Carpinteria.

Ventura bike trails along the coast and start of the scenic coastal section of the bike-friendly Amtrak Pacific Surfliner that extends through Vandenberg Air Force Base northwest of Santa Barbara.
Ventura bike trails along the coast and start of the scenic coastal section of the bike-friendly Amtrak Pacific Surfliner that extends through Vandenberg Air Force Base northwest of Santa Barbara.
Ventura promenade trail with kite surfers out in force on a windy day.
Ventura promenade trail with kite surfers out in force on a windy day.

Cycling in Santa Barbara

Short but beautiful trail near the Biltmore.
Short but beautiful Class I trail in Montecito, southeast of Santa Barbara, near the Biltmore.  A combination of Class I and Class II routes take the rider from Santa Barbara to charming Carpinteria.  See page 64 (Ride SB1 – Option 2). Montecito is the land of Oprah Winfrey, and more recently Ellen Degeneres and Portia de Rossi.
Cabrillo Beach Trail, Santa Barbara.  Link to destinations north and south along the coast.  See maps on pages 61 & 65.
Cabrillo Beachway Trail, Santa Barbara. Link to destinations north and south along the coast. See maps on pages 61 & 65.