San Gabriel River Bike Trail

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The San Gabriel River Trail (also known as SGRT) is a 28-mile bike path along the San Gabriel River through El Dorado Regional Park and onto street bike trails near the Alamitos Bay Marina in Los Angeles County, California, USA. The South end of the SGRT is Seal Beach. From Seal Beach there are opportunities to ride North or South along the coast. The northern segment begins near Whittier Narrows Recreation Area, where riders can continue North into El Monte (via the Rio Hondo), North into Azusa and Duarte (via the San Gabriel River Trail), or South to Long Beach (via the Rio Hondo bicycle path and the Los Angeles River).

The San Gabriel River Trail can be ridden as part of a 61-mile (98 km) loop that is mostly bikeways: North on the SGRT, cross to the Rio Hondo at Whittier Narrows, then South (downstream) to the Los Angeles River, and continuing to Long Beach. In Long Beach, take the Shoreline Pedestrian Bikepath (and surface streets) South/East to the SGRT and head North, returning to the starting point.

Traveling North from Wilderness Park, the path switches from the East side of the river to the West side of the river over the San Gabriel River Parkway Bridge, which is designated as a bike route by the city of Pico Rivera.

From Whittier Narrows, the path follows the River north into South El Monte, Baldwin Park and Irwindale to the Santa Fe Dam. The path crosses the river on Arrow Highway next to the main spillway, then loops back to climb a steep ramp up to the rim of the dam. The path traces the rim of the dam around to the east of the flood basin and park, with access at Azusa Canyon Drive (main entrance to park). The path runs to the end of the dam abutment near the Miller Brewery and turns west to jog back to the river. The path finally ends at State Route 39 where it exits the narrow canyon in the extreme north of Azusa.

Entry points and parking[edit]

Looking North at mile 2.75, taken 14May2012 around 3:30 pm.
  • Angeles National Forest end of trail Entry & Parking at about 1900 N San Gabriel Canyon Road trail has been extended about 1-mile (1.6 km) north to elevation 825 feet (251 m) above MSL
  • Parking lot near the ranger station at the entrance to San Gabriel Canyon (a.k.a. Azusa Canyon).
  • Todd Ave. entrance at Todd and Sierra Madre in Azusa.
  • Pacific Electric Bridge at about 741 Encanto Parkway Parking at Encanto Park, Duarte, about 1/2 mile north of Huntington Drive on the west side of the river basin,
  • Foothill San Gabriel River crossing Entry & Parking just north of Foothill & east of river (also rest rooms). Note, however, that although this area is patrolled by the county sheriff, it is a very isolated location. To avoid any concerns about vehicle vandalism, you may just want to park at Encanto Park across the basin (see above) and take the nice bridge across back to the bicycle path.
  • Santa Fe Dam entry east of face of dam Parking in Dam area.
  • Santa Fe Dam (southern end) on Arrow Hwy, a few hundred feet east of the Arrow Hwy East exit on the San Gabriel River Freeway (I-605). There is a dirt parking area along the north side of the road. The northbound part of the trail climbs a long steep ramp up onto the dam. The southbound portion starts on the other side of the street about 300 feet (91 m) east of the parking area.
  • Intersection of San Gabriel Blvd and Rosemead Blvd in El Monte. This is the southeast corner of the Whittier Narrows Recreation Area and the point where San Gabriel Blvd changes name (going southeast) into Durfee Ave.
  • Santa Fe Springs Park
  • Dunlap Crossing Road in West Whittier (No Parking Lot)
  • El Dorado Park, Long Beach - Enter park on Spring St. between I-605 and the river. Plenty of parking and bathrooms.
  • Intersection of San Gabriel Blvd and Rosemead Blvd in El Monte. This is the southeast corner of the Whittier Narrows Recreation Area and the point where San Gabriel Blvd changes name (going southeast) into Durfee Ave.

Entering from the Whittier Narrows Recreation Area[edit]

San Gabriel Blvd and Rosemead Blvd is a very busy intersection but there is a small public utilities driveway on the south side of Durfee Ave about 300 feet (91 m) east of the intersection where you can briefly pull in to unload passengers (i.e., bike riders). The vehicle gate is closed to cars but there is a small gate for bicycles to enter the path. Travel east (left as you enter the path) and go less than a mile to join the San Gabriel River bicycle path or travel west (right) to enter Whittier Narrows Recreation Area and connect up with the Rio Hondo bike path at the far west end of Whittier Narrows. If you must park your car, from the intersection of San Gabriel Blvd and Rosemead Blvd, travel east on Durfee about 1/2 mile and park in the free recreation area parking lot next to beautiful Legg Lake (The maintenance facility just east of this lot has an address of 555 N. Durfee Ave). To get back to the San Gabriel River bike path, go to the middle of the parking lot (halfway between the two driveway entrance/exits) and carefully cross Rosemead Blvd to a wide, smooth path marked by a green sign indicating the way to a bike path. Follow that path into the brush area and always bear right (there are numerous branches that lead onto off-limits municipal property). Within a quarter-mile you will arrive at the paved San Gabriel River connector road. Turn left and shortly come to the main path and go either left/up/north or right/down/south alongside the river.

Combining bus and rail travel with bicycle travel (via Whittier Narrows Recreation Area)[edit]

If you want to leave the car at home, you can also reach Rosemead/Durfee intersection easily on public transit operated by the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) which offers an all-day pass (good for any bus or rail line). During non-rush hours you may take your bicycle on the Green Line light rail to the Lakewood Blvd station, get on the MTA Bus Route 266 and travel north (towards Pasadena) for about 20 minutes. Alternatively, you can start at the north end of that same Route 266, at the Sierra Madre Villa Gold Line station in Pasadena, and travel south for about 25 minutes along Rosemead Blvd (NOTE: Rosemead Blvd and Lakewood Blvd are the same street, State Route 19). Most MTA buses have a rack that holds two bicycles at the front of the bus (See Reference 2 below for more information). Note that the south end of the Gold Line originates in the regional rail hub of Los Angeles Union Station, which is also the terminus for the Metro Red Line (LACMTA) subway and the various commuter rail lines operated by Amtrak and Metrolink.

To plan a nice trip downhill into the Whittier Narrows Area, start near the north (uphill) end of the trail on the Duarte-Azusa border (see Entry Points section) and travel south. The only reliable public transportation for this is Foothill Transit Bus Route 187 (a separate bus line and extra fare from MTA) which is a 25 minute ride east from the MTA Sierra Madre Villa Gold Line train station. From the entry point near Encanto Parkway and Huntington Drive it is a comfortable 12-mile (19 km) downhill ride (up and over the Santa Fe Dam) to the Rio Hondo bicycle path and Lario connector trail just south of State Route 60 (Pomona Valley Freeway). This connector trail takes you back (west) to Whittier Narrows Recreation Area. You can then catch MTA Route 266 back to the Sierra Madre Villa Gold Line Station. If you have the energy, however, you may prefer to continue through the Whittier Narrows Recreation Area, go about 4 miles (6.4 km) north (slightly uphill) on the Rio Hondo Bicycle Path up to the El Monte Bus Station (LACMTA station), from where you can connect to many MTA and Foothill transit bus routes, including MTA Route 287 which will take you back to the Sierra Madre Villa Gold Line station. If your point of origin is really closer to Union Station there are many bus routes that will take you there, such as Foothill Transit Silver Streak (express bus) and Route 481 as well as MTA Bus Routes 70, 76, 370, 376, and 490.

Trail highlights[edit]

  • Just south of the San Bernardino Freeway (I-10), nearly under the Southern Pacific (Metrolink commuter rail) train bridge, is what appears to be a genuine rodeo area. On any given weekend, there will be dozens of pickup trucks parked there and various rodeo sports in full play. The closest street address might be the 3300 block of North Gilman Road but the rodeo action is only visible to outsiders from the bike path and the train.
  • Just north of the Pomona Valley Freeway (SR-60) is the confluence of the San Jose Creek and the San Gabriel River. This is one of the prettiest areas of trail with sandy riverbanks, not too much traffic noise, and large accumulations of still and running water, especially after a rainstorm.

Maintenance[edit]

Maintained by Los Angeles County Department of Public Works Road Maintenance Division, swept on a scheduled basis. South of Wardlow the City of Long Beach CA is responsible for all maintenance. Also between the 405 freeway and the 22 freeway is the responsibility of Seal Beach as that section of the trail is arguably in Orange county and their city. There are maintenance agreements between the County and the two Cities. Heavy restoration began in Seal Beach late September, continuing up the path, and is scheduled to continue until December.

Future plans[edit]

According to LA DWP, Public Works currently has two projects underway to improve the condition of the bike path between Wilderness Park and Whittier Narrows.

The San Gabriel River Bike Path Rehabilitation project involves re-paving, striping the pavement, and updating the gates on the section of path from the Whittier Narrows Dam to Florence Avenue. Design is complete for this project, construction is expected to begin at the end of May 2006 (ref. missing).

The Commuter Bikeway Signage project involves the placement of signs and pavement markings along the river bike paths including the San Gabriel River path. This project is currently in the design phase, which will include an evaluation of signage at San Gabriel River Parkway to inform bicyclists that the bike path switches from one side of the river to the other at this location.

The City of Whittier plans to open the Greenway Bike Trail in February 2008. [Ref. 1] There is talk of this trail extending into Orange County and, eventually, connecting the San Gabriel River Trail to the Santa Ana River Trail.

References[edit]

City of Whittier Project Summary [1]

Information on using public transit with the MTA [2]

External links[edit]