February 25 was the rescheduled rain date for the fourth Emerald Necklace Grand Tour (ENGT), the annual bicycle, car, or bus tour to visit the gems on Redlands’ Emerald Necklace. After the rains of the previous weeks, the necklace was truly emerald, and participants enjoyed gorgeous green hillsides under partly cloudy skies as they followed the tour.
For the fourth year in a row, the Grand Tour took “tourists” to many of the 25 Gems on the Emerald Necklace. On this year’s schedule were stops at Beverley Pond and Wetlands in San Timoteo Nature Sanctuary, Gateway Ranch in Live Oak Canyon, Oakmont Park, Overcrest view point, Mill Creek Zanja, Orange Blossom Trail East, Redlands Municipal Airport, The Bluffs (Centennial Park site), and Orange Blossom Trail West. At each stop, tourists learned about the site’s history and future.
Several of the stops were Chew and View sites where tourists enjoyed tastes prepared by Redlands’ own culinary sources.
“Sampling the offerings of Redlands’ culinary experts has been as big a piece of the Grand Tour as visiting the gems,” said event co-planner and Redlands Conservancy President Robert Dawes. Volunteer Jon Harrison chaired the work to sign-up the food vendors.
This year’s tour let people explore the Emerald Necklace on the transportation mode of their choice. Two routes were offered for bicyclists, with one route taking cyclists to all of the sites on a rigorous ride through the canyons and another taking them on a mostly flat route.
Automobile travelers took the long route, traveling at their own speed.
To get the full experience, tourists could also choose to take the luxury bus tour. Bus riders enjoyed mimosas, all the Chew and View sites and provisions, and commentary by the author of Redlands’ Emerald Necklace Plan, Pete Dangermond.
“Because the food vendors are so generous and willing to participate, this event has become a major fund-raiser for our Emerald Necklace projects,” said Dawes. Projects include developing the Redlands Gateway Ranch, managing San Timoteo Nature Sanctuary, presenting the Sunday FunDay Outdoor Education program, offering Trails at 10 hikes, managing the City’s Live Oak Canyon properties, and supporting the Outdoor Ambassadors, as well as continuing to explore property acquisitions.
Reservations for the tour will be available beginning January 11. Car and bicycle tourists will pay $50 per person and riders on the luxury bus will pay $105 per person. Every tourist will receive the highly-collectible ENGT tee-shirt. To make your reservation, just go to the Emerald Necklace Grand Tour Eventbrite page.
As in past years, event headquarters will be at Heritage Park, on Orange Street next to the Barton School House.