SOME OF THE MOST INTERESTING GLIMPSES into hidden Los Angeles can be found along the tributaries that form the larger Los Angeles River watershed. This bike path unveils a sequence of varying landscapes -- patches of wetland wilderness, surprisingly barren vistas, the greenery of modest suburban neighborhoods and inner city vegetable gardens, and the grit of industrial smoke stacks. It's all found amid the easy curves and straight-aways that wind their way through the undulating hills. Whether you're looking for an easy family bike outing, or a heart-pounding workout, you'll find it here.
At nearly 12 miles, this is the longest trail in the LA River bike system. It skirts the wonderful Bosque del Rio Hondo Park, and passes smaller parks that dot this route all the way to the confluence with the L.A. River at Imperial Highway. Any park along the way can be used as a turnaround point. Bosque del Rio Park and the Legg Lake area offer family-friendly parkland, perfect to prepare for the ride, or to unwind with a picnic when you return.
Start by heading through part of the open space that is the floodplain of the Whittier Narrows Recreation Area. Watch for horses crossing the path.
Continue and you'll reach the trapezoidal concrete banks of the Rio Hondo aqueduct. Choose the western bank of the main channel, where the path runs past the homes and green spaces of Montebello.
There are multiple access points for riders choosing to enter the bike path from Montebello, beginning with Grant Rea Park. The park boasts a sunken baseball diamond, the Barnyard Zoo, and a plaque identifying the natural features and wildlife, such as Western toads, Pacific tree frogs and salamanders that are found along the lower Rio Hondo. If you have time, take a side trip to the 'Spreading Grounds,' opened in 2004, which replenishes the local aquifer. This is a 1.8-mile spur to a picnic area that is accessible only by bicycle.
Back on the main LaRio bike path, the route becomes residential as it runs past Bell Gardens and John Anson Ford Park. The small private gardens and grape vines that line the path through Bell Gardens give way to a more muscular, (though not unpleasant) industrial stretch. Just downstream from John Anson Ford Park, cross the bike/pedestrian bridge and continue. The landscape here is open and the ride is generally flat. In the two miles it takes to reach the L.A. River confluence, you'll cruise beneath soaring freeway overpasses, and pass urban farms where produce grows beneath power lines.
The 710 Freeway swings closer from the west at this point. Here, the L.A. River links with one of its main tributaries, the geological merger of the ages, now sealed in concrete. The route now heads south for the final 12.3-mile run to the Pacific.
Rush Street and Loma Avenue
TRANSIT: Take the 70 bus toward El Monte. Exit at Garvey/Lee.
CAR: Head east on Interstate 10. Exit at Rosemead Boulevard. Turn right, and head south for 1.4 miles. Turn right on East Rush Street.
There is off-street parking at Rush Street at the corner of Loma Avenue or paid parking at the Whittier Narrows Recreational Area.
You can ride as far as you body will take you. A good turn around point is where the path hits the main L.A. River channel.
Upper Rio Hondo Bike Path
If you head north on the bike path from the starting point, you will head toward Legg Lake, another scenic ride.
South County Bike Path
If you make it to the L.A. River channel, the path heads north to Los Angeles or south to Long Beach.
Rio Hondo Park
Across the river from the bike path is this little park in Pico Rivera.
Reggie Rodriguez Park
This little park features a nice baseball field.
Montebello, CA 90640
Treasure Island Park
Nice little park with a lot of grills and trees on the Rio Hondo bike path.
Small park just south of the Rio Hondo.
Whittier Narrows Recreational Area
Located in the City of El Monte, this 1,492 acre facility fronts the Rio Hondo tributary and is one of L.A. County's largest and most popular recreational areas. It features a range of activities, including BMX biking, riding along equestrian trails, rifle ranges, and fishing in Legg Lake.
Bosque Del Rio Hondo
A 5-acre park located at 9300 San Gabriel Boulevard in South El Monte, this site lies within the Whittier Narrows Recreation Area. It offers year-round trail access to one of the remaining natural stream beds of the Rio Hondo, as well as to seasonal creeks. Visitors will find picnic areas, access to bike paths and equestrian trails, parking facilities, and restroom facilities. The park design visually integrates the natural riverfront with the adjacent land and provides a riverfront setting for those who want to simply walk or relax near the river. There is plenty of paid parking as well as safe, free spots on neighboring Rush and Lorna Streets.
Grant Rea Park
The park features a sunken baseball diamond and the Barnyard Zoo. Plaques in the park identify the natural features and wildlife, like Western toads, Pacific tree frogs and salamanders, found along the lower Rio Hondo.
John Anson Ford Park
This park, located at 8000 Bell Park Lane in Bell Gardens, has a golf course, playground, restrooms, baseball and soccer fields, basketball courts and a swimming pool. Across the river are the open spaces of the Rio Hondo Country Club.
In the Grant Rea Park, there is a nice zoo that kids especially adore.
600 Rea Drive
Montebello, CA 90640-2761
The Barndyard Zoo, the site of the founding of the Mission San Gabriel (San Gabriel Boulevard and Lincoln Avenue), and the confluence of the Rio Hondo and LA River channels are worth a look.