This is the first trail review I’ve done that started with a detailed discussion of where to park and save money. Yes, the TrailBear is cheap – and threadbear. Yes, you’re not in Irvine, CA anymore, where you just had to find a city park for a trail head and go from there.
This is the Long Beach waterfront, an area filled with a convention center, the Queen Mary across the river, assorted tourist attractions, expensive “cutsie village” shopping, restaurants and many ways for a family of three to have fun and empty the wallet. Where you park will establish your “trailhead” for the ride. The smart move is to break out Google Earth and do a close fly-over of the roads and parking lots. Print out some photo maps. A smarter move probably is to head right to the far trail end at Belmont Shores and find parking there. "Far from the madding crowd" always works for us.
PARKING ALONG THE TRAIL…
You are at the end of Shoreline Village Drive. Ahead is the marina. To your right is the Shoreline Village pay parking lot. To your left is a really expensive parking lot. Turn right and drive out along the marina breakwater. There is parking all along the Shoreline Marina drive and around the marina. Most of it is for the tenants (tags on mirrors). Look for the signs. I have no idea how fast they will tow or ticket you.
On New Year's Day there was very little parking at the marina and lots in the various beach lots. In season, take that to the 4th power. There is a small amount of public parking (meters) scattered the length of the breakwater drive - $1/hour. You might find one open. Take it. $1/hour is the going rate in the city lots up and down the ride. In summer, you are probably out of luck finding anything.
No joy? Go back to Shoreline Drive, turn right and head toward the row of apartment towers on the bluff. Just at the base, on the right is a beach access parking lot ($1/hr.) with trail access and an eclectic demographic of denizens. Fair warning on the fauna there.
Next option – up the bluff and right on Ocean Blvd. Cruise past the apartment towers to Cherry St. and turn left at Bixby Park. You might find free parking there. The next street leads down the bluff to a nice beachfront parking lot ($1/hr.). Further down Ocean Blvd. is the Bluff Park with free curbside parking and great views. You hike the bike down the bike ramp on the stairs down to the beach. Having done that, I would next use the sidewalk to reach Junipero Ave. and take the road down to the beach lot.
No parking joy? Kids whining? Head further SE. There is a lot at the Belmont Pier and another monster beach lot further along at E. Ocean Blvd. x Bennett Ave. with free curbside parking on the street and $ parking in the lot. There are smaller lots at La Verne Pl. and 54th Pl. – at the other end of the trail. You should find something. The smart move might be to figure that all the tourists are at the marina end, so you can find space at the other end of the trail. Bring lots of quarters.
It was a delight. This is a great beach ride. I like it a lot better than the 8 miles along Huntington Beach from Newport to Sunset Beach. Lot more to look at.
This trail has views in every direction and miles of sand beach. The bikeway has two five foot lanes for the bikes and one lane on the side for foot traffic. However, expect to find bikes and people and dogs all over all the lanes. There is water and restrooms there. You will find plenty of them all along the ride.
No worry about that on any SoCal beach ride. However, they are built to a rather open view design inside with half height partitions and such. Privacy? Curious notion, that. The Wife rates them no better than a "being generous" *** on the Irvine Flushie Scale (***** being an Irvine park flushie, and the rest being downmarket from there. She regards Irvine flushies as the Gold Standard for parks.
0.00 miles/ 20’ elevation.
I started out at the tip of the breakwater, opposite Island Grissom. Saddle up and start riding up the trail, along the mouth of the LA River. The LARIO Trail starts over yonder and goes up the LA River. It has cautionary reviews, i.e, “Don’t stop for flats, water or finding a restroom.” One rider reviewed it and said that next time he would do it in a group of not less than ten riders – which sounds like a combat patrol. One should be wary of ambushes in the undercrossings. (TrailBear does not plan to survey it.) You could ride inland until the pricking of your thumbs indicate time to come about and make for home.
You have reached the base of the breakwater. Shoreline Village is ahead. It’s a fun place to explore – as are the attractions along the Rainbow Harbor just beyond it. The LARIO Trail starts there. You turn right and ride along the base of the marina, heading toward the beach. Opposite direction.
You’ve reached the beach. It’s a great expanse of sand on both sides of the trail with views unfolding every mile. Ahead is Belmont Pier. Great apartment towers line the bluff, then they grade down to smaller units.
Base of the Belmont Pier. There is water out on the pier. Stop and pedal inland a bit. Check out the artful bike racks which the city has installed. Those blue pipe things that look like Kokopelli on a bike are bike racks. So is that great fish a bit further up the mall. What a neat idea.
End of the trail at the water fountain at East Ocean Blvd x 54th Place in Belmont Shore. Across the street is an aquatic park and the island community of Naples beyond. If you ride down East Ocean to the end, you will find another park at the tip of the peninsula with views to the mouth of the San Gabriel River beyond. The SGRT starts over there at a little beach park on the Seal Beach side of the channel. You can ride it to the mountains in Azuza.
"Filling in the blank spots on the map."