Category Archives: scenic bike rides

West Fork National Bikeway – A Fabulous Easy LA Mountain Escape

The 6-mile paved path along the West Fork of the San Gabriel River is a fabulous easy scenic bike ride, giving a great taste of the beautiful mountains without having to drive too far for the privilege.  We recently rode a good portion of the trail on a warm June day, enjoying the sounds of the gurgling stream and the smell of the pines in the air, quite a delightful and easy escape from the LA megalopolis.

The San Gabriel Mountains tower over the heavily populated San Gabriel Valley just east of Los Angeles. Mountain streams from winter snow and rain drain into the San Gabriel River, that empties into the Pacific at the Seal Beach/Long Beach border. The urban San Gabriel River Bike Trail extends from the ocean all the way up to the foothills at Azusa.  From there, the drive into the mountains on Hwy 39 is spectacular, passing San Gabriel and Morris Reservoirs, backed by mountain peaks.

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Morris Reservoir backed by the peaks of the San Gabriels, along Hwy 39.

After passing the junction with East Fork Road (about 7 miles from I-210), continue another 1.5 miles. Pass some parking areas on the right, drive over a bridge, and park in the lot on the left.  A $5 National Forest Adventure Pass (or a National Park/Forest annual pass) is required.  They are sold at liquor or convenience stores in Azusa.  To get to the trail you can either use the footbridge over the river, which has stairs, or ride across the bridge to the trailhead, a locked gate labeled “Cogswell Dam.”  Although the road is closed to the public, some do obtain permits to drive on it, as well as park and utilities employees.  Still, vehicle traffic is very sporadic.

The route is beautiful throughout, but on warm days the first part will be full of folks up from the city splashing around in the pools created by the stream.  Unfortunately some leave graffiti, and trash in this area.  As you continue, however, your solitude continues to increase as you enjoy the sights, sounds, and scents of the mountain forest, next to a lush riparian ecosystem along the stream.

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Blooming yucca and colorful flora along the trail.
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Blissfully riding up the gradual incline through the lush forest.
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Monkey flower and Sugar pine along the trail.
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The trail above the refreshing stream.
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Returning down the trail, with mountain peaks in the background.
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At times like here around Mile 3, the trail is between the stream and very steep canyon walls. Signs warn of falling rocks.

For further information about this gem of a trail, see the website  https://sangabrielmountains.org/the-place/west-fork-national-bikeway/

And help them to preserve the San Gabriel Mountains!

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An LA Urban Oasis – Puddingstone Reservoir Camp ‘n Brunch ‘n Ride

At the east end of Los Angeles County, at the junction of Pomona, San Dimas and La Verne, lies Puddingstone Reservoir, a flood control and groundwater recharge facility that for decades has been a draw for its fishing, boating and swimming.  It is surrounded by Frank Bonelli Regional Park and the huge Raging Waters water park, while the LA Fairgrounds (Fairplex), and Bracket Field small plane airport are adjacent.

East Shore RV Park (some tent sites too) has some 500 sites, although 300 of those are long term. Built in the hills above the lake, many sites have panoramic views of the lake and the San Gabriel Mountains.

At the lower, or “Unit F” Loop, two trailheads lead to our main attraction, a fairly easy bike route around the reservoir, with only a handful of manageable hills. It is a combination of paved lakefront promenades along the north and south sections of Bonelli Park, a scenic novice mountain bike trail, and a long easy scenic cruise across Puddingstone Dam.  It is a 5-mile loop, or 8-9 miles if you opt to cycle on Class I/III roadways around the airport, perhaps stopping at Norms Hanger cafe for breakfast or lunch, a popular thing to do with cycling groups.

Bonelli Park has a lot of trails throughout, and much of it is more challenging mountain bike singletrack.  For those who like to stick to roadways, there are both easy and difficult hilly options around the lake.  East Shore RV Park is expensive, and is full well in advance most weekends.  We take advantage of the 3-for-2 weekday special.

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View of lake and dam from our site at C Loop of East Shore RV Park.
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Path leading from Unit F along east side of lake.
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Path winding along southeast shore of lake.
Scenic mountain bike trails on west side of reservoir.
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Long flat road over Puddingstone Dam.
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Nice promenade along north section of Bonelli Park.
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Closed road next to Bracket Field leads back to Unit F of the campground. Norm’s Hanger is a popular spot to park/stage from, and have an al fresco meal on the patio watching the small planes take off and land.

Fabulous Bicycle Bridges of the West

By Richard Fox, enCYCLEpedia.net

Some of the most interesting and imaginative bridges in the western US and Canada are of the bike/pedestrian variety. Many have become showpieces and even tourist attractions.  It’s a great way for a municipality to both foster recreation opportunities for residents and visitors, and to bolster its reputation as a destination and a forward thinking community.

The prime example is Santiago Calatrava’s Sundial Bridge spanning the Sacramento River in Redding, Northern California.  This cantilever spar cable-stayed bridge actually forms a sundial, and its opaque decking is illuminated at night.  It has become the centerpiece and main attraction of Redding, known to cyclists for its 35 miles of bike trails along the Sacramento River, and has generated millions of dollars of tourist revenue. We witnessed the Bandaloop acrobats perform on the bridge for its 10th anniversary.

 

Also spanning the Sacramento River along its bike trail system is this unique stress-ribbon bridge.  Another stress-ribbon bridge in this region, that we have yet to visit, spans the Rogue River in Grants Pass Oregon.

 

The David Keitzer Lake Hodges Bike & Pedestrian bridge is 990 feet long, the longest stress- ribbon bridge in the world.  Lake Hodges is one of the prime easy-scenic mountain bike areas in San Diego County. These photos show a difference in the area during a wet and dry year.

 

The lovely Wagon Creek Bridge over the Wagon Creek inlet to  Lake Siskiyou near Mt. Shasta City completed a trail system around the entire lake.

 

The best example of incorporating art into a bike/ped bridge is in Tacoma, Washington.  The city’s rising star is reflected in its waterfront reconstruction and commitment to improving bicycling infrastructure. The Chihuly Bridge of Glass is a 500-foot-long bridge linking the Museum of Glass to downtown Tacoma and its cultural corridor. While more practical for peds, bikes are allowed on it as part of a fabulous tour of the Tacoma waterfront.  For those interested in glass art, the walls and ceilings full of glass sculptures and free-standing pieces make this a world class attraction.

 

A railroad trestle is a mainstay along many a rail trail, and the wooden Kinsol Trestle near Lake Cowichan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia was restored beyond its original glory as part of the Cowichan Valley Trail.  At 144 ft high and 617 ft long, it is the one of the largest structures of its type in the world.  Also in BC, the Myra Canyon trestles (not shown) near Kelowna are part of an iconic bike ride along the Kettle Valley Railroad rail trail.

 

The Pacific Electric regional rail trail in SoCal’s Inland Empire parallels historic Route 66, and the designers took full advantage of that fact by refurbishing this former railroad bridge with Route 66 designs. Cities from Claremont to Rialto have joined in to make this 21-mile path a successful regional feature.

 

Another refurbished railroad bridge in Folsom, CA, that connects to the American River regional trail,  evokes the old-west heritage of the town.

 

The Phoenix area is criss-crossed by canals and other aquatic infrastructure, and the municipalities have been generous about constructing bike trails along them.  Shown here are the new Tempe Town Lake Bike and Pedestrian Bridge, and an interesting bridge at the “Scottsdale Waterfront” that spans a canal.  Paved paths along the Scottsdale Greenbelt, Tempe Town Lake and several canals enable fun fabulous off-road cycles in this area.

 

This fabulous bike bridge along the south end of Lake Coeur d’Alene in Idaho is a highlight of the spectacular 72-mile paved Trail of the Coeur d’ Alenes, that follows the former route of the old silver mining trains.

 

This former railway bridge now carries bikes ‘n pipes across the Columbia River as part of the scenic Wenatchee bike trail system that spans both sides of the river.

 

And finally, the construction of the sleek Mike Gotch Memorial Bridge over Rose Creek Inlet in San Diego in 2012 was literally a life saving project, taking hordes of cyclists off of a dangerous road and onto less crowded streets and pathways around Mission Bay.

Tacoma’s Downtown to Defiance Event 2016 – A Video

Once a year in September, Tacoma, Washington closes the eastbound lanes of 7.5 miles of its lovely waterfront to vehicle traffic so that recreation users can have it to themselves. The event is called Downtown to Defiance.  In addition, the adjacent 5-mile scenic loop of Point Defiance Park is closed to vehicle traffic every weekend until 1pm, and weekdays until 10AM.  A pathway connecting the two is under construction, and in the meantime an on-road connection is available.  So all in all on this day you can do a fabulous 25 mile ride with minimal disturbance from cars. This video depicts the September 11, 2016 event, and  since it was cloudy until noon, also shows how the route can look on a sunny day.  Tacoma has lofty plans to complete bike trails along the route that is simulated by this road closure.  Currently to stay away from cars, cyclists need ride on sidewalks for much of the way,

CAMBRIA BIKE ‘N BRUNCH – CENTRAL COAST BEAUTY

By Richard Fox

Cambria is an upscale jewel of a coastal community near the north end of San Luis Obispo County, and is the gateway to San Simeon, home of the fabled Heart Castle.  Its historic downtown is located inland, east of Hwy 1,  a popular destination for shopping and dining.  The spectacular coastline is accessed along Moonstone Beach Drive, a short bike ride from the downtown.  The coastal Fiscalini Ranch Preserve contains some welcome open space and provides a mile-long bike cruise on a fire road, or some hilly singletrack for mountain biking.  A very pleasant ride on trails and low speed limit roads will take you to all of these Cambria highlights.  Those who feel comfortable with rural road riding can amble inland up scenic Santa Rosa Creek Road to the Stolo Winery and Linn’s Fruit Stand, famous for its Olallieberry pies. The perfect way to explore the town nicknamed “Pines by the Sea” is via a two-wheeled cruise, as described in the book “enCYCLEpedia Southern California- The Best Easy Scenic Bike Rides.”

It's beginning to look a bit like Big Sur as Cambria is the gateway to the fabled Hwy 1 along spectacular coastline. Here is the boardwalk along Moonstone Drive, great for a stroll but not a bike ride.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Big Sur since Cambria is the gateway to the spectacular Hwy 1 coastline.  Pictured is the boardwalk along Moonstone Beach Drive, great for a stroll but bikes must ride on the adjacent low-speed roadway.
Find free parking and restrooms at Leffingwell State Park at the north end of Moonstone Beach Drive, a good starting point for your ride.
Find free parking and restrooms at Leffingwell State Beach at the north end of Moonstone Beach Drive, an option for your ride start.
The hardpacked fine gravel fire road provides a very scenic 2 mile round trip ride across the coastal Fiscalini Ranch Preserve.
The hardpacked fine gravel fire road provides a very scenic 2 mile round trip ride across the coastal Fiscalini Ranch Preserve.  A hike-only path closer to the sea allows better views of the sea otters foraging in the kelp beds.
Beautiful coastal vistas from the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve. A hike-only path closer to the sea provides glimpses of those darling sea otters foraging in the kelp.
Beautiful coastal vistas from a neighborhood park en route to the  Fiscalini Ranch Preserve.
Singletrack MTB trails in Fiscalini Ranch Preserve lead to a grove of rare Monterey pines.
Singletrack MTB trails in Fiscalini Ranch Preserve lead to a grove of rare Monterey pines.
Downtown is split into the west village, and the East Village, where you'll find historic Linn's restaurant.
Downtown is split into West Village, and East Village, where you’ll find historic Linn’s restaurant, among others.
Choose from many restaurants in town. This interesting Danish breakfast is at the Creekside Garden Cafe, popular with cyclsts.
Choose from many restaurants in town. This interesting Danish breakfast is at the Creekside Garden Cafe, popular with cyclists.
Lovely Stolo Winery, open for tastings, is 1.5 miles up scenic Santa Rosa Creek Road.
Lovely Stolo Winery, open for tastings, is 1.5 miles up scenic Santa Rosa Creek Road.
Linn's Farm Stand sells fresh pies and fruit-related gifts.
Linn’s Farm Stand, 5 miles up Santa Rosa Creek Road,  sells fresh pies and fruit-related gifts.
Linn's is famous for their olallieberry pie.
Linn’s famous olallieberry pie.
October is a great time to visit Cambria, when most businesses and organizations create a scarecrow that represents themselves.
October is a great time to visit Cambria, when most businesses and organizations create a scarecrow to represent themselves in lighthearted satire.
Here is a humorous entry for Cambria's dog park.
Here is a humorous scarecrow at Cambria’s dog park.

 

 

Video: A Ride Along the Beautiful Foothills Rail Trail near Tacoma, WA

By Richard Fox

The Foothills Rail Trail is one of our favorites, located southeast of Seattle between Tacoma and Mt. Rainier, and here’s a short video with soundtrack depicting a ride on it on a beautiful late spring day.  There’s great Mt Rainier views, rivers, mountains, forests, ag land, a cute town midway, Orting for lunch, good paving, and it’s busy but not crowded. It’s 15 miles long now between Puyallup and South Prairie,  but someday will double in length and reach from the mountains all the way to Puget Sound at Tacoma.  As described in last year’s post “The It Can Happen Tomorrow Ride” (http://wp.me/p4pOXg-8a), the trail lies in the shadow of an “episodically active” volcano.

 

Cape Disappointment State Park, WA Camp ‘n Ride

Video Diary, by Richard Fox

Cape Disappointment State Park is a gem, situated at the southwest corner of Washington State near Long Beach, where the Columbia River empties into the Pacific Ocean. A jetty built in 1917 to aid in shipping navigation resulted in the formation of most of the land comprising the lowlands of the park, including the campgrounds and the beautiful sandy ocean beach. Dramatic Cape Disappointment and North Head lighthouses stand sentinel over the entrance to the Columbia and the region known as “The Graveyard of the Pacific” because of the over 2,000 shipwrecks that have occurred in this area.

This very popular park near the resort area of Long Beach contains a large campground for RV’s with hookups or tents. We explored the park by bike, riding along the firm sands of the beach, then up past “Waikiki Beach” and several installations of the Confluence Project, which features structures replicating those used by Native Americans. The return ride is through the idyllic park road for a total of about 5.5 very scenic and flat miles.

Following is a video of our experience from May 2016.

Those wanting more of a challenge can ride on the hilly roadways to the two lighthouses.

Nearby is the 8.5 mile Discovery bike/hike Trail, that runs mostly behind sand dunes and through forest between Ilwaco and Long Beach, skirting the State Park but not connecting to the park’s flat coastal section.  We will be exploring that trail on our next visit to the area.  In the meantime, here is a nice description of it:  http://outdoorsnw.com/2012/escapes-long-beach-wash/