A walk in the wild, natural area behind the Whittier Narrows Dam paints a sharp contrast from the stark concrete channel of the lower Rio Hondo. Soak in a panoramic view of the lower flood plains of the Rio Hondo and San Gabriel River, and a close-up look at the riparian wetlands of the Whittier Narrows Recreation Area.
Grant Rea Memorial Park, Rea Drive between Beverly Boulevard and Lincoln Avenue, Montebello, CA.
DIRECTIONS TO START
BIKE: The walk start is easily accessed from the Lario Bike Trail. Take the Lario to the unmarked exit at Grant Rea Memorial Park, directly below the Whittier Narrows Dam.
TRANSIT: Take the Montebello Bus Line 40 or 342 on Beverly Boulevard to the intersection of Beverly and Bradley Avenue. Walk one block east to Rea Drive and then head north into Rea Park.
CAR: Exit the 60 Freeway at San Gabriel Boulevard in Whittier/Rosemead and head southeast on San Gabriel. Turn right on Lincoln Avenue and left on Rea Drive. Look for the small sign denoting the bike path entrance, located near the baseball fields in the north end of the park.
Enter the park at the trailhead for the Lario Bike Trail (look for the small sign that identifies this asphalt road as the Rio Hondo River Bike Trail). As you walk toward the Rio Hondo, on your right is a sunken baseball field. The field is designed to be played on most days of the year, but in a large storm, the field can be flooded. This is the sort of multiple-use flood protection that FoLAR has championed.
Follow the trail up the ramp across the wooden footbridge onto the Lario Bike Trail. The stark concrete bed of the lower Rio Hondo comes into view. Turn left and walk upstream toward the Whittier Narrows Dam. Share the trail with bicyclists, who may be moving fast downhill as they descend the face of the dam. Continue on the bikeway as it ascends the face of the dam.
At the top of the dam, you encounter a 360° view. Behind you, there is the dense floodplain development of Pico Rivera and Montebello and the barren concrete channel of the Rio Hondo. Behind the dam is the relatively wild reserve of the Whittier Narrows Recreation Area.
If it has rained recently, the basin may be flooded or muddy. Continue walking west on the bike path, which runs along the top of the dam. As you pass the small parking lot, check out the US Army Corps of Engineers sign profiling the dam's specifications. Continue upstream on the bikeway as it descends along the west edge of the basin.
At about 1.7 miles, the bikeway ends at Lincoln Avenue. This is the suggested turnaround point, but if you want to keep walking, turn to the right (north). Cross San Gabriel Boulevard and turn right (east). Just before Rosemead Boulevard , enter the Bosque Del Rio Hondo Park.
Whittier Narrows Cafe
8640 Rush Street
Rosemead, CA 91770-3797
1827 Walnut Grove Avenue
Rosemead, CA 91770-3789
San Isidro Mexican Restaurant
2327 Rosemead Boulevard
South El Monte, CA 91733-1529