La’s best bike routes: San Gabriel River Trail

Likely the longest bike route in the region, the SAN GABRIEL RIVER TRAIL offers the uniquely Southern Californian experience of riding from the base of the San Gabriel Mountains to the Pacific Ocean in under 40 miles.

We elected to not to ride the entire 40 miles, but instead picked up the trail at Peck Road (near the 605 and 60 split) and rode South through the Whittier Narrows before turning around and riding North to the Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area. All in all it was a really pleasant 12 mile ride.

Most surprising about this trail was the scenery. Sure you’ll never really escape the overhead transmission lines and freeways, but somehow the juxtaposition of those urban landmarks with the natural beauty of the river, trees, and scenic vistas makes for an all in all wonderful experience.

The path is paved and in great condition, just keep an eye out for horses. Yes horses. During our ride on a Friday afternoon, we must’ve come across 10+ horses. Both on the trail and in the river. Really cool!

The North end of the trail also offers some interesting insight into LA’s history, connecting you to one of the most important economic drivers of the regions past; the river. From the 1900s on, the San Gabriel River has served a major role in supplying gravel, sand, and rock for construction around Los Angeles. Schools, roads, freeways, the Coliseum and LA Harbor have all been constructed using aggregate from this area. It was also the reason for the region’s agricultural boom of the early twentieth century. All this, plus the desire to control flood risk with dams and concrete, does have it’s costs though. The river has suffered greatly in it’s ecological integrity and diversity.

For more information on the unique history of this region, check out this KCET article on the San Gabriel River. And for more info on the San Gabriel River Trail visit Enjoy!