Tag Archives: San Gabriel River Trail

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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Cycle the Exciting Long Beach, California Waterfront and Beyond

Long Beach is a SoCal star when it comes to bicycle advocacy and infrastructure, Silver-rated by the League of American Bicyclists. As far as easy scenic cycling goes, coastal Class I trails provide a ton of excitement, interesting vistas, and even some good exercise where bikes and peds are given their separate lanes. For more cycling fun connect via bike-friendly surface streets to the Belmont Shore district, the very Italian Naples Island with its canals, and the laid back beach town of Seal Beach, with the option of riding along Pacific Coast Highway to reach the great Huntington Beach trail along the sand. Also available for a good workout are somewhat less scenic river trails up the Los Angeles River (the LARIO trail) from Long Beach and the preferred San Gabriel River Trail from Seal Beach.

The annual Tour of Long Beach event with several levels of rides benefits pediatric cancer and starts along the downtown Long Beach waterfront. Next event: May, 2016. enCYCLEpedia Southern California had its book launch at the finish line festival in 2014.

Trail near Shoreline Village in Long Beach affords fabulous vistas including the Queen Mary.
Trail near Shoreline Village in Long Beach affords fabulous vistas including the Queen Mary.
Bike trail passes the Long Beach Marina.
Bike trail passes the Long Beach Marina.
The 3.2-mile beach trail has a separated pedestrian lane for smoother travel.
The 3.2-mile beach trail has a separated pedestrian lane for smoother travel.
Cycling toward Shoreline Village and its great selection of waterfront restaurants.
Cycling toward Shoreline Village and its great selection of waterfront restaurants.
One of the THUM oil islands, Island Grissom, adjacent to a bike trail.
One of the THUM oil islands, Island Grissom, as seen from a waterfront bike trail.
A trail though Harry Bridges Park leads to the Queen Mary.  Expect lots of trail improvements on the Queen Mary side of the channel in the future, which is accessible from the Shoreline area via a separated bike path along the Queensway Bridge.
A trail though Harry Bridges Park leads to the Queen Mary. A number of additional trails are planned for the Queen Mary side of the channel in the future, which is accessible from the Shoreline area via a separated bike path along the Queensway Bridge.
Trails wind around and up to the lighthouse at Shoreline Aquatic Park. Enjoy great vistas of downtown and the Queen Mary from the top of the knoll.
Trails wind around and up to the lighthouse at Shoreline Aquatic Park. Enjoy great vistas of downtown and the Queen Mary from the top of the knoll.
Busy area along the trail near the Aquarium of the Pacific.
Busy area along the trail near the Aquarium of the Pacific.
The trail passes Golden Shore Reserve and Golden Shore RV Park.
The trail passes Golden Shore Reserve and Golden Shore RV Park.
Naples Island is a delight to explore by bike.
Naples Island is a delight to explore by bike.
Cycle for miles up the Los Angeles River and the LARIO (Los Angeles/Rio Hondo Rivers) path, but scenic value tends to decrease as you leave the coast, and it also passes some areas known for higher crime.
Cycle for miles up the Los Angeles River and the LARIO (Los Angeles/Rio Hondo Rivers) path, but scenic value tends to decrease as you leave the coast, and it also passes some areas known for higher crime.