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The Bellflower Bike Trail runs for more than 2 miles on the right-of-way of the old Pacific Electric transit system—also known as the Red Cars—across Bellflower. At its zenith in the 1920s, Pacific Electric was the largest electric railway system in the world, operating over a thousand miles of interurban track in Southern California, including this line between Los Angeles and Santa Ana.
The trail begins at a bridge connection with the popular San Gabriel River Trail at Ruth R. Caruthers Park on the banks of the San Gabriel River. Skirting the edge of the park, the trail ultimately joins the former rail corridor at the southern end of Ripon Avenue and heads northwest to its terminus on Somerset Boulevard, just beyond the Bellflower–Paramount city line.
Most of the trail consists of striped bike lanes and a skinnier pedestrian path separated by a small strip of decomposed granite. The street crossings are at-grade near the corridor, but the required maneuvers are signed well. Along the trail's length, attractive street lights allow for use after dark, while local flora beautifies the corridor.
The Pacific Electric Train Depot on Bellflower Boulevard—restored to its original state in 2008—is a must-see period piece, and restrooms are even available in the baggage shed. Rail remnants along the trail's route provide additional reminders of the area's unique transportation history.
Parking for the Bellflower Bike Trail is available adjacent to the trail (near the restored train depot) in a city lot on Oak Street. Parking is free, but there is a 2-hour limit.
THE BELLFLOWER BIKE TRAIL
Welcome the Bellflower Bike Trail to the SoCal bike trail family. Dedicated in November of 2009, it is the newest rail-trail on the block. It runs on the Bellflower portion of the old Pacific Electric Railroad Right of Way that slashes across Orange and L.A. Counties like a surgical scar for 16 miles. Look for it on Google Earth.
There, down in Santa Ana at West 4th St. x N. Raitt it ends. Follow it across the river, past the golf course and NW thru Garden Grove, then Stanton, Cypress, La Palma, Cerittos, Artesia, Bellflower and Paramount. Across the L.A. River it seems to vanish beneath a freeway.
That’s a lot of unused Right of Way. Make a great trail? TrailBear would be happy if Paramount would take up the project and extend it from Lakewood over to the LA River Bikeway – making a cross connection between the San Gabriel River Trail and the LARIO Trail.
They talk of light rail. We had light rail. There was a time, and now it’s all gone by, when there was a thousand miles of rail crossing SoCal and the Red Cars ran from the Valley to Riverside and beyond. The Roaring ‘20s were the glory days of the system. Then came the car.
Let’s start our ride at the bottom end – down by the river at …
CARUTHERS PARK, 66’, GE: N33.88015 W118.10916
Ruth R. Caruthers Park (nee Flora Vista Park) at 10500 E. Flora Vista St. Bellflower, CA 90706
Caruthers Park makes a nice full-service trailhead for your ride. It’s located on the western side of the San Gabriel River. If you are coming up the SGRT, there is a bridge there leading into the park. The Bellflower Bike Trail starts there at the first sign. On your right is a squiggly trail leading a half mile north to Alondra Blvd. Ignore it. You go left toward the Skate Park, then over the second bridge and down onto the end of Flora Vista St.
Ride up Flora Vista to the corner of the park and turn left onto Ripon Ave. You can use the sidewalks, but these are quiet residential streets. At the end of Ripon, bear left onto the sidewalk and out thru the park fence onto the Right of Way. You are now on the BBT.
It’s rather nice. Notice that the tracks and rail bed have been left intact. The trail runs alongside. There is a center striped bike trail with two five foot lanes, a median strip of decomposed granite, then a four foot walking trail. The whole trail has bell-shaped street lights running along side. Look behind you and see the Right of Way undercross the 91 Freeway and then the river as it heads towards Santa Ana. You and the trail go the other way.
The trail is 2.3 miles long and has on-grade crossings – some of which are convoluted. It will probably get a lot more use as a community walking trail – pram pushers, dog walkers, joggers – than a bike trail. The roadies want lots of miles and grade-separated crossings for speed, so they will be over on the SGRT or the LARIO. If the trail ever connects the two big river trails, look for loop riding. Even now it has gotten half way. Ride up the BBT and take your chances on the streets of Paramount.
TrailBear is 0.41 miles above the park gate, taking his chances on the first crossing at Woodruff Ave. to the…
TRAIL PLAZA, 72’, GE: N33.88195 W118.11765
They have built a trail plaza at the corner of Woodruff and Flora Vista. It has flag poles, a decorative fountain, a water fountain, a bike rack, plaque and other amenities. TB loved the paint job on the traffic light signal box. It has been painted to resemble one of the old Red Cars. Nice touch, that. Cross at the light and head up the trail to the …
BELLFLOWER CLOCK TOWER, 78’, GE: N33.88397 W118.12192
It’s a charming trail-side clock tower. Notice anything a bit odd about it? Look closer. Yes, those are cell phone antennas up there and you can see microwave antennas on the upper deck. All painted matte black. The cell antennas look like chimes or counterweight for the clock. They are getting rather good at cell tower disguise and multipurpose uses. They have come a long way from the faux palm trees.
From the clock tower it’s another 0.2 miles to the jewel of the trail, the …
BELLFLOWER RAILROAD DEPOT, 81’, GE: N33.88562 W118.12481
This is a delightful period piece, complete with all the correct signs. You just want to head over and get a ticket to Burbank. The baggage shed is now a pair of restrooms. Can’t tell you the hours of operation. Can tell you they were closed on that Saturday afternoon when TB when surveying. However, the water fountain was in operation. There is a free city parking lot at the station with a two hour limit, so the Depot would make a nice trailhead.
The traffic on Bellflower Blvd. at the Depot suggests you Be Good and take that jog over to the light on Flora Vista and cross there. TB looked at the traffic, then went for the light. From here it’s 0.46 miles up to Alondra and another convoluted crossing.
This time bear left down the sidewalk to Columbia Way, cross it, then cross Alondra. Head up Columbia to rejoin the trail. This is the last section. From here it’s 0.56 miles to the …
TRAIL END ON LAKEWOOD BLVD., 85’, GE: N33.89453 W118.14255
That’s the end of the trail there at Lakewood. It is also the end of Bellflower. Across Lakewood Blvd. the Right of Way continues 2.31 miles across Paramount to the LA River Bikeway. Let’s hope they build the next section of rail-trail on the old Red Cars track.
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