From its headwaters high atop Mount San Antonio to its debouchment with the Pacific Ocean at Seal Beach, the San Gabriel River is one of the L.A. basin's most cherished and vital waterways. During its 60 mile trajectory the San Gabriel River flows through more than 19 cities, largely within concrete encased flood channels. The Azusa Canyon portion of the river has become a favorite destination for millions of Southern Californians, while the West, East and North Forks of the river drain the largest watershed in the mountain, and provide millions of residents with clean drinking water.
Recreational opportunities abound in the San Gabriel Mountains near the top of the river. The East Fork of the river provides a gateway to hiking within the Sheep Mountain wilderness, and in recent years many hikers have even taken to bungee jumping at the end of the 7-mile long hike to the Bridge to Nowhere. The West Fork offers a National Scenic Bike trail and access to a catch and release trout stream.
Currently, there are efforts underway to designate large portions of the river and the San Gabriel Mountains as a National Recreation Zone. The Emerald Necklace Project envisions connecting more than 1,500 acres of parks and open spaces along an interconnected greenway around the Rio Hondo, San Gabriel, and lower Los Angeles rivers.
What is your San Gabriel River story? What are the places in the area that are important to you? What are the activities you like to do at and around the river? What are your memories related to the river?
Kerry Chicoine says:
"A few years ago a friend and I -- on a lark -- decided to go fly fishing on the San Gabriel River just north of Azusa. Most of us fly fishermen usually went much higher in the range to more remote creeks, so we didn't have much hope for this lower stretch so close to the city.
Turns out we discovered an amazing resource -- wild trout, possibly of steelhead origin. We kept a solitary fish (out of many caught and released) and sent a fin clipping to a friend who worked for the Department of Fish and Game. They, too, surmised we might have "discovered" a remnant steelhead population.
The crux of the story is this river -- here above Azuza, graffiti-strewn and crawling with party people all summer long -- is indeed wild and capable of hosting what appears to be a thriving ecosystem. Some of the fish we caught there were in the 18-inch range, which is spectacularly huge compared to most fish in the smaller watersheds of the San Gabriels."
Wesley Reutimann says:
"The San Gabriel River provides a wonderful backdrop to some of the most scenic and safe bicycling in Los Angeles County. A separated bike path traverses almost its entirety from the dams of San Gabriel Canyon to Seal/Long Beach. As a young teen, just completing the ride from El Monte to the beach was a challenge and adventure in of itself. Twenty years later the path provides a welcome respite to our congested, and too often dangerous, city streets. It also provides access to the head of the canyon and Highway 39, the gateway to famously challenging climbs to the high points of the rivers watershed, such as the roads to Cogswell Dam, Crystal Lake, and Glendora Ridge Road. Rides along these roads are among my, and friends of mine, most cherished memories."
Bill Meredith says:
"That was my relaxation. To fish the west fork of the San Gabriel River. I did not have to walk far from the bridge and parking lot. I would finish work early, go home get my fishing gear, go to the river and be home with some nice trout for dinner. Thank you for telling the wonderful story of a great little river."
Dennis Pruitt says:
"When I was a teenager back in the late '70s we used to go cliff diving at a spot just up the road from the Canyon Inn. It was a real thrill because you couldn't see the river from the top of "CZ" rock, you had to run a few steps and leap out and away from the rock, only to see the water once you were airborn. It was better than any thrill ride at any amusement park."
"When I was a nine year old Girl Scout we camped in tents by the San Gabriel River. We swam in beautiful clear water and it was icy cold in June. Snakes swam with us but we learned they weren't poisonous because of the rhyme: red and yellow, kill a fellow, red and black, your friend Jack."
What's your San Gabriel River Story? Tell us in the comments below.