Running the Santa Ana River Trail

Running the Santa Ana River Trail

I found the Santa Ana River Trail when I was looking for somewhere safe to run near Disneyland. I was staying in the Disneyland hotel and asked myself: where can I run near Disney?

While yes, I could run on the treadmill there or the streets, I didn’t necessarily feel like either. I hate starting and stopping at stoplights. I almost ran on the treadmill, which would have been fine, but I discovered the  Santa Ana River Trail is only 3.5 miles from Disneyland. So with a relatively long run, you would be able to get there, log a few miles and run back to Disneyland. The closest section of the Santa Ana River Trail to Disney is near Angels stadium. Of course, I don’t precisely advise doing a long run and then going to Disneyland. The day I ran there was the day I did not go to Disneyland. If you did both, you might as well be an ultra runner.

Running the Santa Ana River Trail

Anyway, about the Santa Ana River Trail:

It’s a 12-foot wide path that follows the Santa Ana River. In Orange County, much of it is cement-lined with no water, but you can find water in both Riverside and San Bernardino counties. My view in Orange County had no water, but it could also be because of California’s drought and us not having much water anyway.

When you use the Santa Ana River Trail in Anaheim, you’ll get to run near the A of the Angels Stadium. Then it goes near the National Hockey League’s Anaheim Ducks. So if you are a Los Angeles Sports fan, you’ll appreciate this section.

The Santa Ana River Trail is about 50 miles long, but there is a large break in between that makes it nearly impossible to go from end to end. I only ran on 5 miles near the Disneyland hotel. According to the Santa Ana River Trail trail information, there are a few hillier stretches towards Huntington Beach. The section I ran had over 100 feet of elevation change which is 5 miles is not flat.

Running the Santa Ana River Trail

There is also a gap between the Hidden Valley Wildlife Area east of Norco. So you’ll need a separate mode of transportation after Hidden Valley. It’s not just an “easy” few miles between the segments. The eventual plan for the Santa Ana River Trail is a solid 110 miles to Big Bear Lake. If you’ve ever been near Big Bear, you know that it will become a fairly hilly and challenging section.

My experience on the Santa Ana River Trail:

As I mentioned, I was looking for a place to run near the Disneyland hotel. I stumbled upon the best option of the Santa Ana River Trail. I decided to run the 3 miles there and run another five on the Santa Ana River Trail. Getting to the Santa Ana River Trail from Disneyland is easy.

Running the Santa Ana River Trail

You’ll take Disney Way and connect onto S Anaheim Way. From there, you’ll follow it and turn right on East Orangewood Ave. You’ll eventually see the Angel Stadium and connect right there. From the Disneyland Resort area to the Santa Ana River Trail is about 3 miles. You always have a sidewalk, and it’s runnable, but you do contend with crossing several roads and stoplights. At no point did I feel unsafe, but I did get annoyed with the amount of roads to cross. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to city running. That’s a personal problem as I no longer have to deal with that in the desert.

Running the Santa Ana River Trail

My experience on the trail was wonderful. It was the type of running I enjoyed; you didn’t have to stop for cars or weave around many people. In fact, it was fairly quiet the entire time!

I saw plenty of bikers, walkers, and other runners. However, it wasn’t “too busy” that you felt like you were weaving around people. One thing to keep in mind is it’s not entirely flat, and you will find yourself running up and down when you go underneath roads. It reminds me a lot of my recent run in Wilkes-Barr, PA.


If you are looking for an easy path near the Disneyland Hotel or even Angels Stadium to run or work out on, you’ll appreciate the Santa Ana Trail. While it is fully paved, there are sections where you can find paths located near dirt. If you are looking to do the entire trail from end to end, that isn’t an option but most of us don’t need that much. I’m looking forward to exploring more sections of the trail and logging more miles when I’m around Los Angeles. It’s nice to have an area to run or bike that you aren’t contending with traffic!

You can find a full map of the Santa Ana River Trail here.

You can see all trail runs and hikes here.

Questions for you:

Have you ever been to Disneyland?

What is your favorite running path? 


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