The Summer of ‘Seven has brought the crowds again. The colorful mass of umbrellas and beach towels swells along the sand to new numbers this year, even as the beach itself seems to recede. The streets are slower too. Traffic often crawls, as fresh shoppers take to the village byways testing the capacity of downtown parking. Escapes aren’t easy, as freeways fill up too. One of the most desirable summer destinations in the world has become the 60 - mile radius of coastline that surrounds our little Spanish Village. It is enough to test the patience of the calmest among us.
In winter a short walk on a deserted beach might settle an irritated soul, but in times like these we must take to the hills.
San Clemente’s ridgeline trail system still offers a rare chance to breathe free above the huddled masses. Though originally designed for horses, (which are outlawed now) the ridgeline trails were a part San Clemente’s recreation plan right from the beginning. Seventeen miles of trails were incorporated into the original drawings. They ran along the beaches and rose to our highest peaks, encircling the village with panoramic hill and valley views. Many of which have remained relatively unchanged since the padres first trod the El Camino Real.
Our coastal city is fortunate to be bordered on two sides by protected wildlands, but we villagers rarely rise high enough to glimpse them with the proper perspective. From the top of the Rancho San Clemente Trail, for instance, if you gaze to the south, the spectacular view spans past the San Onofre Power Plant to San Diego’s beaches. Turn to the west and you see across village rooftops to the Dana Point headlands. Look north and you’ll find the stalwart peaks of the Saddleback Mountain, and to the east the Donna O’Neill Land Conservancy.
Our trail system is currently made up of four parts, and plans are underway to connect the trails and tie them into a regional trail system. Some of the entrances are tricky to find, and many of the initial grades are a little steep, but the views, the air, the very openness of it, always rewards the effort. We’ve published some photos on pages 6 and 7 and maps on page 10. The City’s website san-clemente.org has detailed maps of all the entrances … look under the Recreation heading for Trails.
We talk a lot about open space, but so few of us have seen or enjoyed what little of it we have left. Walk up and see what all the shoutin’s about. Take some deep breaths with you, take some water, and take in the views that will remind you how beautiful our location really is.
Our town is justifiably proud of its trails, just like our beaches, parks and all other recreation areas. Enjoying them, at least within the rules, is a right and a privilege. It is also a responsibility. One that calls each of us individually, to protect and keep them clean. It’s not enough anymore to pick up your own trash. Containing the discarded wrappers of our life necessities seems to overwhelm too many of us. So, the rest have to do a little extra. You don’t have to clean the entire beach, you don’t have to walk the trail with a trash bag, just pick up that one cup that’s sitting alone on the ground on your way to the trash can. The simple act of throwing away one more thing than we brought in could turn the residue of the largest crowds into the cleanest environments. We need to up the anté, let’s take down the sign that says “pick your own trash” and show people that it’s OK to pick up somebody else’s. It’s more effective than complaining, and a small price to pay for maintaining the wonder of our valuable resources.
Catch the Mayor’s Message on the City’s Clean Ocean Program
Don R. Kindred