The first reach of the Zanja Trail and Greenway is almost here! Stretching from Wabash to Lincoln, the trail features a natural surface path with plantings, trees and just the first of several pocket parks. Redlands residents got a preview of the nearly completed first reach at the June 16 Trails at 10 event.
The Mill Creek Zanja was built in 1819. Now, nearly 2 centuries later, it still exists in good form for approximately six miles, it is connected to every stage of local history since that time and it is a major reason for the existence of the City of Redlands. All that demands celebration. The Zanja Trail and Greenway Park will make that celebration possible and perpetual.
The Zanja Trail and Greenway Park Project will establish a 2.2 mile-long natural surface trail along or near the historic Mill Creek Zanja between Ninth Street in Downtown Redlands and Wabash Avenue, the easternmost city boundary of the Zanja. It will include one gateway at the west end, four pocket parks, and amenities such as interpretive signage and exercise nodes along the route as designed.
The project is intended to enhance the City of Redlands’ public trails system by providing east-west connections between schools, University of Redlands, and historic Downtown Redlands; to enhance the natural and scenic values of the park’s footprint corridor; to provide a safe and interesting space for Redlands’ residents and visitors to conduct healthful activities; to attract cultural and heritage tourists to Redlands; and to implement a component of the City’s General Plan Open Space Element. (The City of Redlands 1987 Park and Open Space Plan calls for eight major features, one of which is the creation of “a strip park and related trails following the Zanja from Crafton through the downtown area to the westerly city limits.”)
Redlands Conservancy is the project proponent, and has worked with local, county, regional, state and federal agencies, local and regional organizations, and individual property owners to develop this project proposal.
The intended grand opening for the entire trail and greenway park is 2019, the 200th anniversary of the construction of the Mill Creek Zanja.
One high school, two elementary schools and University of Redlands exist along or near the Mill Creek Zanja within the City of Redlands; a walking trail along the Zanja will link these schools off-road, providing a safe and interesting travel route for students.
Redlands’ residents currently have more than 25 miles of public trails to enjoy, some in rural areas with spectacular views and habitat, some in urban areas close to residential areas. A missing link is a connection – one trail or a series of trails that connect to other trails. Zanja Trail and Greenway Park will connect with the Orange Blossom Trail which is planned to connect with the Santa Ana River Trail. When completed, this trail network will loop continually through north Redlands and into the Crafton Hills.
When completed, this project will have enormous benefits. It will –
- Celebrate Redlands’ heritage and the historic irrigation channel that brought prosperity to this almost-desert land;
- Provide an unparalleled opportunity for Redlanders and visitors to understand the tenacity and inventiveness of Redlands’ pioneers;
- Provide safe, alternative routes to three public schools and between the University of Redlands and the downtown;
- Provide a unique attraction for cultural and heritage tourists throughout Southern California;
- Provide a highly valued incentive to high-quality employers to locate their businesses in Redlands;
- Provide a natural setting for a highly desirable walking and bicycling path;
- Aid in increasing the city’s property values, and
- Provide free family entertainment, exercise and outdoor education opportunities.
Can anyone name another Southern California city that can claim to have a semi-natural stream with water flowing in it right through a big piece of the town? San Luis Obispo has a stream through the middle of town, and that city has capitalized on it, making it a focal point to attract residents and visitors all year long. San Antonio actually made a river to provide unique features to their city. Redlands doesn’t have to make anything – just celebrate the historic Mill Creek Zanja that already exists.