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California Citrus State Historic Park

Citrus Interpretive Trail
 
From Gazebo to Gage Canal is 1.25 miles round trip

Park visitors are greeted by a replica of an orange juice stand, located on the corner of Van Buren Blvd. and Dufferin Ave. In the days before interstate highways and reliable auto air conditioners, stands offering fresh squeezed orange juice and lemonade were a common sight and popular with thirsty motorists.

The brightly colored stand is an appropriate welcome to California Citrus State Historic Park, which tells the story of how “Citriculture” influenced the landscape—and culture—of Southern California, as well as how it helped shape public perception of the region.

Navel oranges, Valencia oranges, lemons and grapefruit are grown in the park, which boasts some 186 acres under cultivation by a nonprofit corporation. Check out the park visitor center, which resembles a packing house, and features exhibits that tell the story of California’s citrus industry. Docents sometimes give talks and conduct walks.

Arts and Crafts aficionados will love the Sunkist Center and what’s often referred to as “the park within the park.” Visitors have the opportunity to walk through an old-fashioned park, created in the Craftsman/California bungalow motif of the first two decades of the twentieth century. Landscape architects of the era designed parks to provide gentle paths for strolling, areas (without equipment) for children to play, and plenty of picnic grounds. The idea was to offer park-goers a quiet place to relax and restore their spirits.

The park has an intriguing interpretive path, as well as other trails leading past the citrus groves. A palm lined gravel path leads to groves and past grove memorabilia to a knoll, which offers grand clear-day views of the San Gabriel Mountains and San Bernardino Mountains.

Directions to trailhead: From Highway 91 (the Riverside Freeway), in the Arlington Heights area of Riverside, exit Van Buren and travel 2 miles southeast to Dufferin Avenue. Turn left then make a right into the park and a left into the first parking lot. The interpretive path begins at the gazebo by the Sunkist Center. If available, pick up an interpretive pamphlet at the gazebo.

The hike: The five-stop tour includes a historical overview of the introduction of the orange to Southern California and a visit to the park’s Varietal Collection, which numbers more than 100 kinds of citrus trees, including California’s commercial species and exotics from around the world.

Other gentle lessons along the way help hikers learn about the three essentials for successful citrus production: good soil, suitable climate (different species thrive best in specific microclimates), and water. In rain-challenged Southern California, irrigation is truly the lifeblood of citrus production so it’s fitting that the interpretive path offers a good look at the Gage Canal, a 20 mile waterway that tapped the Santa Ana River in San Bernardino and brought water to the groves now part of the state park. The canal, built by Matthew Gage between 1885 and 1889, is still used by area citrus farmers.

© 2012 The Trailmaster, Inc.
From John McKinney’s
Day Hiker’s Guide to California’s State Parks
Trail descriptions and maps have been reproduced with the permission of the author.  To learn more about The Trailmaster and other related publications please visit their website at www.thetrailmaster.com.