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JAUNTS : Welcome Addition to Bicycle Path : The 2.3-mile stretch of the 10-foot-wide Arroyo Simi bikeway brings length of trail to 6.1 miles.


Here's some good news for bicyclists in Ventura County's east end: a new addition to the Arroyo Simi Bicycle Path now stretches the urban bikeway 6.1 miles across Simi Valley.

Now you can pedal along the waterway from Madera Road on the west end of the city to Santa Susana Park and the new Metrolink station at Los Angeles Avenue on the east side.

The Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District just opened the new 2.3-mile leg on the east end. With views to the south of rolling green hills, the new extension softens the urban feel of the rest of the route.

If you want to ride the entire Arroyo Simi Bicycle Path, here's what you'll find. (Starting from the west end, park along Easy Street, just east of Madera Road.)

The 10-foot-wide trail takes off with a scenic jolt, rolling through an industrial area, past auto body shops and a lumber yard. It's noisy, not the serene ride you probably had hoped for.

But, ironically, it is through this stretch that you might spot herons or egrets gracing the shallow waters in the channel alongside the bike path.

"In the winter, we also get a wild duck population," said Don Hunt, assistant general manager of the district.

You'll notice the water flowing west in the rock-lined channel, meaning that you are going uphill. It's a gradual climb all the way to the east end. The rise in elevation is 258 feet, according to Hunt.

The industrial area gives way to apartment complexes and homes. At Erringer Road, you can turn south and go into picturesque Rancho Simi Community Park, where water and restrooms are available.

Just after Sycamore Drive, watch for a trail spur that goes out to Los Angeles Avenue. To stay on the route, you'll need to avoid that and make a loop off to the right over a little bridge that keeps you on the Arroyo Simi trail.

Along the way, you'll see groves of newly planted trees--oak, sycamore, citrus, walnut and apricot--all in keeping with the city's heritage, according to Hunt. Eventually, the trees will add some shade. You can't miss an interesting tangle of massive cactus plants along the trail. A few horse properties border the path. An equestrian trail runs along the other side of the channel.

The stretch of new trail begins at Royal Avenue. The old portion of the trail was built over the last seven or eight years with state grants at a cost of $510,000, Hunt said. Grants for the new link came to $460,000.

You'll notice the surroundings are more scenic with the backdrop of rolling hills. For a short distance, you'll have to detour around Darrah Park, but eventually the path will run along the channel.

At Los Angeles Avenue, the bike path continues on the sidewalk on the south side to the Metrolink station. To get to Santa Susana Park, Hunt recommends crossing Los Angeles Avenue at Stearns Street until a better crossing is available.

By the time you reach Los Angeles Avenue, you will have crossed five streets. These are not intersections where you can simply slow down, look both ways and pedal across. At each crossing, riders must get off their bikes and walk them through a narrow sort of turnstile before crossing the street.


* WHAT: Arroyo Simi Bicycle Path.

* WHERE: With a new addition at the east end, the Simi Valley path now extends from Madera Road to Los Angeles Avenue, just west of Stearns Street.

* INFORMATION: Call the Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District, 584-4400.

* FYI: The next addition to the bike path will be a quarter-mile section west of Madera Road.

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