This 7.4 mile path takes you along one of the nicest soft-bottom sections of the river. Sure, there's a concrete bank and yes, it runs at times alongside the traffic on Interstate 5. But the best parts of it take you through a prettier, greener section, and ends near the spot where the city of Los Angeles was founded. The upper part of the route, which passes through the Glendale Narrows, offers unfettered views of the majestic San Gabriel Mountains.
Though traffic in the area is steady, it's rarely congested. For much of the route, the bike path drops below grade, which helps to drown out the interstate. The lower part of the route, beginning near Atwater Village, has a series of islands in the river, with gentle whitewater rapids bubbling between them. Birds and fish are abound here, making it one of the best bird watching locations in Southern California. Herons, egrets, ducks, geese and kingfishers go about their business as hawks and eagles circle above. The area is filled with human wildlife as well, with walkers, joggers, bicyclists, horseback riders, fishermen and artists enjoying the scenery.
There is limited street parking surrounding the Bette Davis Picnic Area on Riverside Drive and Rancho Avenue.
DIRECTIONS TO START
BIKE: The Los Angeles Greenway Trail is a great bike-friendly route to this path.
TRANSIT: Take the Metro Gold Line to Lincoln Heights / Cypress Park Station then walk northwest on W. Avenue 26 toward San Fernando Road.
CAR: Take the 5 Freeway to Western Avenue then turn left on Victory Boulevard. Take the third right toward Riverside Drive then make the right turn onto Riverside.
STARTING POINT PARKING
At the Bette Davis Picnic Area on Riverside Drive and Rancho Avenue
Egret Park is where the trail ends for now. You can also stop at the LA River Gardens Center by peddling across Riverside Drive over the river.
ENDING POINT PARKING
L.A. River Center & Gardens has a bona fide parking lot.
Better Davis Picnic Area
This small picnic ground, just east of the L.A. Equestrian Center, is named after the film star who reportedly lived in one of the large houses along Rancho Avenue across from the park.
North Atwater Park
Located across from Griffith Park on 3900 W. Chevy Chase Drive, just off the Colorado Street exit of Interstate 5, this small park offers volleyball and basketball courts, a baseball diamond, as well as restrooms and a children's play area.
With over 4,210 acres, this is the largest park in L.A. It offers ample parking and numerous bike paths for the L.A. River.
Rio de Los Angeles State Park
On the east side of the river, adjacent to San Fernando Boulevard, this 17-acre park opened in 2007 and offers open space, soccer fields, restrooms, and a natural habitat hiking path. It is currently separated from the river by railroad tracks. In the future, the plan is to connect it to the Taylor Yard and river.
The wrought iron fence around this park is adorned with ornamental Steelhead Trout, once native to the L.A. River. Located on the river at Oros Street, the park features a small outdoor amphitheater.
At the corner of Riverside Drive and Oros Street, this small community park features sculptures of the wildlife that once roamed the river.
Perched between Riverside Drive, the Interstate 5 and the L.A. River, this small park features river access and a variety of native plants.
Located just off Fletcher Drive, this pocket park features the Great Heron Gates, an artistic interpretation of the wildlife of the L.A. River designed by sculptor Brett Goldstone.
River Garden Park
Located at the northern tip of the Los Angeles River Center and Gardens, this small park adds much need green space to the confluence area.
Los Angeles River Center
A mission-style facility located near the confluence of the L.A. River and the Arroyo Seco, the L.A. River Center is the site of the former Lawry's Restaurant Center. Today the Center offers a bicycle staging area with drinking fountain, a repair station and restroom, as well as a visitor center about the River, and a picnic, garden and park area.