Bike Rides along the San Gabriel River

05.17.12


River Coaster

Roll up the pant leg: it's Bike Week! We're pedaling the theme forward with three great rides that follow one of SoCal's most precious resources: The San Gabriel River—running 60 miles from mountain to sea. Ready, set, ride!


Legg Lake Bike Ride

Legg Relaxer

There's a really good way to get a leg up on the blazing heat and hectic urban bustle on the eastside of LA. Legg Lake (actually three lakes strung together) is a tranquil oasis tucked into Whittier Narrows Recreation Area and bordering the San Gabriel River. A mellow 5-mile dirt trail circles the park's paddleboat-dotted waters, making for a refreshing roll among plentiful shade thanks to tall walnut trees. Bring your own bike or share the load with friends on the ever-popular surrey—a pedal-powered quadracycle (pictured) that keeps the sun off your back with its bright yellow canopy. The western tiger swallowtail butterfly is common here in spring, recognizable by its yellow and black stripes. Stop to watch radio-controlled boat hobbyists test physics at the designated racecourse. Finish in time to grab a cool spot under a large maple tree and enjoy a fruit mix of fresh jicama, mango, and coconut from a nearby vendor.

TIP: Those seeking a longer leg of path can exit onto Durfee Road (near mile 4) and branch out onto the Rio Hondo River bike path, a paved stretch heading 5.2 miles north to a dead end at Pioneer Park in El Monte. The San Gabriel River tributary is more of a trickle this time of year, but the route is clear of crowds.

Take SR-60 to the Santa Anita Ave. exit and continue for about .3-mile. Turn left into Whittier Narrow Recreation Park. Parking is free in this lot (other lots are $6). Turn right off the main parking entrance to follow the full loop around the lakes. Single surrey rentals are $20 for one hour; double are $30. Dog-friendly!

San Gabriel River Trail Asuza

Dam-Good Roll

Originating at the base of the Angeles National Forest, the San Gabriel River Trail runs almost the entire length of its namesake river. But you don't need to go the whole distance to hit some of its sweet spots. Starting in Asuza, roll among mountains and through expansive open space budding with rare native desert blooms on a 10-mile (round-trip) paved path. Leaving Mt. Baldy behind, you're more likely to spot gnarled cacti than fellow cyclists. Pass a manmade lake surrounded by yellow Abrams live-forever and white-budded yerba santa—a surprising sight in this dry range. Along this part of the trail the river is in good view, gaining momentum as it travels south. Continue alongside the 70-acre Santa Fe Reservoir and its sandy beach before putting on the breaks at the Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area. White sage brings flower power, and the spiky Our Lord's Candle blossoms in every direction. The Santa Fe Nature Center is a quiet place to soak in the sounds of warbling orange bishops and California towhee. The return journey puts the San Gabriel Mountains front and center, including Mount Bliss and Glendora Ridge.

Take I-210 and exit Azusa Ave. (Hwy 39). Follow Hwy. 39 for about 6 miles and turn left into the city of Asuza's public parking area. Take the Gabriel Bike Trail to the north of the parking lot for 180 feet and turn left onto the San Gabriel River Trail instead of following the trail straight. Head south for about 2.5 miles past the I-210 freeway. Turn left to stay on the San Gabriel Bike Trail after 4.5 miles. Continue for .5-mile before ending at the Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area. Return the way you came. Dog-friendly!

Long Beach Shoreline Bike Ride

Go Long

All good journeys eventually come to an end, and the San Gabriel River does it beautifully at Alamitos Bay. Take it in on a 10-mile (round-trip) stretch of the Long Beach shoreline. While this is not the jam-packed Strand, the bikeway is best late in the day when crowds are thinner and the sunset puts on a colorful show. Start at the Golden Shore Marine Biological Reserve Park, which preserves 20 acres of shoreline for birds like the great white heron. Follow the paved bikeway around the world's largest aquarium—Aquarium of the Pacific—leaving the waves behind temporarily to ride the bike-only portion of the path. Cross Shoreline Drive to avoid waterfront vendors in favor of the tranquil Rainbow Harbor Lagoon. Marked by arched rainbow bridges, the lagoon is a traditional Japanese-style design filled with seawater. Cruise past heaving boats docked in the Long Beach Marina before the path opens onto a 3-mile stretch along white sand. The controversial Wilmington Oil Field floats offshore: four "drilling islands" are decorated in palms trees and faux waterfalls to mask the oil wells—not exactly havens of "aloha." Continue past the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier and to the bikeway's end at Alamitos Bay. This is where the San Gabriel River—after touching 37 cities!—reaches its final destination. Return the way you came, rolling as the setting sun bathes the horizon in punchy pinks and purples. The Long goodbye.

BEER BONUS: On the way back, stop at Belmont Brewing Company (25 39th Place) right along the bike path. Grab a strawberry blonde on tap and a seat on the patio to catch the rest of the sunset.

Take I-710 to Long Beach and exit at Downtown Long Beach/Convention Center/Aquarium. Merge onto W. Shoreline Dr. and take the ramp toward Golden Shore Dr. Turn right after .3-mile on Golden Shore. Golden Shore Marine Biological Reserve Park parking lot will be on the right. Meters are free on Sunday. Follow the bikeway left from the parking lot to head toward the beach. Follow the well-marked signs .6-mile past the Aquarium of the Pacific. Cross Shoreline Dr. and continue past the Rainbow Harbor Lagoon. After .6-mile, cross back over the intersection at Shoreline Dr. to reach the Long Beach Marina. Turn left and continue for almost 4 miles until the path ends at 54th St. and Alamitos Bay. Return the way you came. Dog-friendly! 

Good Dharma

The Yoga Journal Conference is ready to jumpstart your healthy summer form: five days of yoga with the world's best instructors is coming to San Diego, July 12–16! Register by June 1 to take advantage of early bird discounted pricing on conference passes, and save an additional $50 off the main conference using promo code SD24. Choose from more than 100 classes led by more than 35 famous teachers from around the world. Ashtanga, Forrest, hatha—whether you're a beginner or master of the no-hands headstand, there's something for everyone. Release the week's stress with Friday night's Rock 'n' Roll Flo—a signature yoga class set to an amazing soundtrack from classic rock to trance. Keep things flowing with your choice of Saturday classes, from exploring the five elements in yoga to a shoulder and arm shape-up to discovering the 8 steps to living your truth. Wander the Yoga Marketplace—filled with eco-stylish apparel and sustainable products—and learn the ways to a healthy, balanced lifestyle from speakers, workshops, and panels. Grab your mat and get ready for some good dharma!

TIP: Say "Om" and save. Weekend Sherpa subscribers can register online and save $50 off the main conference (use promo code: SD24). This offer can be combined with other early bird prices, so register by June 1! 

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