Rio Hondo River Trail


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Rio Hondo River Trail Facts

States: California
Counties: Los Angeles
Length: 17.8 miles
Trail end points: Los Angeles River Trail at Imperial Hwy (South Gate) and Live Oak Ave, between Hempstead Ave & Eighth Ave (Arcadia)
Trail surfaces: Asphalt, Concrete
Trail category: Greenway/Non-RT
ID: 6378214

Rio Hondo River Trail Description

The emerging trail system in and around the greater Los Angeles area may surprise visitors. The 17-mile Rio Hondo River Trail has become a key component of this system. While much of it follows the concrete drainage channel for Rio Hondo through urban and suburban sprawl, two sections follow the river on open ground with varied landscapes.

Several neighborhood parks along the way provide opportunities to picnic, play or relax, including Crawford Park in Downey, where a bridge transports trail users over the river, John Anson Ford Park in Bell Gardens, Treasure Island Park in Downey, Veterans Memorial Park in Commerce, Grant Rea Park in Montebello and the trail's northern endpoint at Peck Road Water Conservation Park in Arcadia.

The large Whittier Narrows Recreation Area is perhaps the most scenic element along the trail's route. The popular local destination offers hiking trails, lakes perfect for fishing, and tennis and volleyball courts, among many other amenities. Trail users can also connect to the winding San Gabriel River Trail from the recreation area via a trail spur extending southeast from San Gabriel Boulevard.

Starting from the trail's southern end, where the Rio Hondo (Spanish for “deep river”) meets the Los Angeles River and the Los Angeles River Greenway, which heads south 12 miles to the Port of Long Beach. While there’s an entrance ramp to the Rio Hondo Trail on the east side of the river on Imperial Highway in Lynwood, the trailhead closest to parking is 1.5 miles south in Hollydale Regional Park in South Gate.

As you make your way along the channel, you’re often traveling below the surrounding terrain without noticing whether you’re in residential, commercial, or industrial districts. An advantage is you don’t have to stop for the cross streets that pass overhead. In addition, the trail runs on both sides of the channel in one 3-mile segment, making it more accessible to local residents.

About 4.7 miles along the route, you’ll notice a natural landscape along the corridor in what is called the Rio Hondo Spreading Grounds. This is a 2-mile stretch where water is allowed to leave the concrete channel and percolate into the soil. Heading north, keep a keen eye out for the Montebello Barnyard Zoo on the north side of the trail. It’s not unusual to look up and find an ostrich or a donkey checking out the happenings on the trail.

About 2 miles north of the spreading grounds, you’ll take a switchback up the side of a dam structure and enter the 1,500-acre Whittier Narrows Recreation Area. The scenery changes dramatically from concrete channel to wide-open wetland sanctuary with woodlands typical of river shorelines and lakes. You might see migrating waterfowl in season in the 400-acre Whittier Narrows Natural Area. Crossing San Gabriel Boulevard, you’ll continue north along the natural drainage 3.3 miles before reentering the concrete channel. At 0.3 mile east of the San Gabriel Boulevard crossing, you could take a connector trail 1.2 miles east to the San Gabriel River Trail.

Continuing in the concrete channel, you’ll pass Fletcher Park and notice that an elevated railway accompanies the trail through the city of El Monte. Climbing the dam to a reservoir about a mile past the San Gabriel Valley Airport, take the right fork (a left takes you onto the Santa Anita Wash Bike Path) and continue 0.6 mile to the Peck Road Water Conservation Park, where you’ll find parking, restrooms, drinking water, and shaded picnic tables.

Parking and Trail Access

Parking is available at several of the local parks along the Rio Hondo River Trail's route, including Crawford Park (7000 Dinwiddie Street) and Treasure Island Park (9300 Bluff Road) in Downey, John Anson Ford Park (8000 Park Lane) in Bell Gardens, Veterans Memorial Park (6364 Zindell Avenue) in Commerce, Grant Rea Park (600 N. Rea Drive) in Montebello and Peck Road Water Conservation Park (5401 N. Peck Road) in Arcadia.

Visit the TrailLink map for all options and detailed directions. 

Rio Hondo River Trail Reviews

nice trail

We started off at the San Gabriel river trail at Santa Fe dam park, got onto trail then headed to Whittier Narrows, we cross over to Rosemead blvd and Durfee and entered Rio Hondo trail starting point. There is a restroom at the corner Bosque del Rio bldg if needed. From there we continued on trail cross the 60 Frwy and we stop inside park a little while to watch the Remote RC planes, huge planes those guys are good showing there trick flying fun to see , we then got back on trail, and at Sam’s club we stop for a Hot Dog, they are good and cheap. We then continued all the way to end of trail at Peck Road at a little park, then took peck to Duarte rd and got back on San Gabriel river trail side arm entrance at City of Hope trail next to parking lot, that got into Santa Fe Dam back where we started. It’s a approx 28 miles, yes there are some homeless but where isn’t there in this area,. They are 2way bike lanes nice , lots of water in river in march 2024.

Disappointed in this one.

I always try not to get my excitement up too much when riding in Los Angeles. After all it's a huge city with a lot of dried up rivers. We started at the north end of this trail and road about half of it before turning around. There was one small area of some scenery at the north end but the further south we got the worse it got. Lots of homeless encampments and trash alone the trail which is so sad. The waterway was dried up in October so on one side you have a concrete basin and the other side either homeless cities or industrial buildings. I can now mark this one off my to-do list for sure.

Sharing the trails with equestrians

these trails are awesome and full if wild life and scenery..but also be aware that you share the trails with bike riders and equestrians..please be cautious in blind spots you might be surprised who you come face to face with ...most equestrians are open to having thier horses approached but please ask first ..and be cautious around them ..

Saturday Morning Ride

I took this route a couple Saturdays ago. I started in El Monte which had lots of parking and right onto the path you go. The trail was smooth and fun. You only have to cross the street in Montebello from Whittier Narrows. The trail was debris free all the way to Downey. I would take this ride again and want to continue it to Long Beach.


Fun trail.

Started at Parque Rió Hondo on the corner of San Gabriel and Rosemead. Went north towards El Monte. Rode with my family for about 4 miles and then turned back. Road trail was well maintained. Very little traffic given it was a Friday afternoon. Relatively scenic. There are several off road trails along the way but they are encumbered by homeless encampments so be aware. Try to moderate your speed in the bushy areas as there were several instances of rabbits crossing the road. You don’t want to have an accident in trying to avoid them. Would definitely do this trail again. Enjoy!

Great Road Bike Trail

Nice trail to ride without cars. Go early because you will heat up. Free of debris. I am happy that I changed from my usual ride. Many parks along the way.

LARIO is all clear from Peck Park to Long Beach

20140839: Rode the whole trail from the start of the Rio Hondo Path at Peck Park in El Monte to Long Beach. The trail was in excellent condition along the entire route. Traffic on the path was pretty light in the morning. On the way home around mid afternoon, it was practically empty. We encountered no more than 3 other people the entire length.

The Upper Rio Hondo path ends at San Gabriel Blvd at Bosque del Rio Hondo. There are restrooms and water at Bosque del Rio Hondo. To get to the Lower Rio Hondo path, turn right on San Gabriel, and then left at the first traffic light at E Lincoln Ave. The entrance to the Lower Rio Hondo path is on the left hand side just after you enter Lincoln Ave. There is a crossover bridge from the west bank to the east bank of the Rio Hondo around El Paseo. Then, where the Rio Hondo ends at the LA River, the trail becomes the Los Angeles River Trail, which ends at Long Beach.

I have extensive geotagged photos of the whole length of the trails here:
There are also more photos of the Upper Rio Hondo trail in my Emerald Necklace album:

it's the Rio Hondo Bike Path

A great ride, I take it to Long Beach often. There are two places to get on near the start, either Peck Park or from the Arcadia Golf Course (NE corner of the parking lot). If you do the latter, note that you'll go a bit over a mile than the path makes a crescent to the east followed by a sharp right. Then 7 miles to Whittier and exit on San Gabriel Blvd

nice long trail

I only tried the upper part, but was impressed. It is far and nice. Don't go on a hot day, though. The only scary part is finding a parking spot that is not illegal. There was a sign in a business parking lot that said 'No Parking. Violaters will be cited.' So I parked on the street where there were no signs posted. Then I noticed that all the cars parked on the street had parking tickets. All the cars parked in the business parking lot were fine. So I parked in the private parking lot. I didn't get a ticket, but half the ride I was worrying about it.

I think that the wind blows a certain direction based on the time of day. Plan your ride so you're not going against it both ways.

The LARIO Survey continues: DeForest Park to Hollydale Park

THE LARIO SURVEY - DeForest to Hollydale


Another warm Saturday and the TrailBear is back on the LARIO for another round of facilities survey. The last survey went down the lower Rio Hondo from the dam to Hollydale Park. This survey started in Long Beach at the DeForest Park, then hopscotched up river to Ralph C Dills Park in Paramount and thence to Hollydale Park.

A member of the BikeForums SoCal Discussion said he had trouble finding water on the LARIO. There is water and there are restrooms in at least five locations handy to the trail. Let’s start in Long Beach.

DE FOREST PARK, 11’ Elevation, GE: N33.86788 W118.19182



De Forest is an older park in a well-established neighborhood. explains…

“DeForest Park is the first neighborhood in all of Long Beach to form its own neighborhood association. There is an actual 24-acre park here running alongside the LA Riverbed with a club house, rest rooms, baseball diamonds, basketball, tennis and racquetball courts, sand volleyball court, horse trails, a nature trail and a bike path that can take you to straight to the Aquarium of the Pacific or downtown LA without ever crossing a street. The bike path goes directly along the river under all street-crossings.”

From the mouth of the LA River it’s about seven miles up to DeForest. The best restrooms, with water, are at the upper end of the park, by way of the offices and the tot lot. Not a bad looking park.

At 0700 in the morning there were a few dog walkers about. Very quiet; no bikies unloading; no games underway. The sports action was out at Houghton Park on Atlantic Ave. Got the waypoints and drove up to…

RALPH C. DILLS PARK, PARAMOUNT, 55’, GE: N33.90129 W118.18321

What a shock! Our plan was to get in, get the data and get out. From Google Earth, the park looks like the usual boring grassy lawn strip park. LARIO has security concerns (LA Bikepaths: “Some viewers advise: Don't plan on stopping for flats, water, finding restrooms, etc. and don't go alone.”) Paramount is Not a Good Address and research mentioned that the city had been buying up and condemning derelict homes around the park and adding the land to the park. The way in is through a lesser barrio in the Graffiti Zone. (Not sure who or what CVS is, but it’s probably not the pharmacy chain.)

All these warm fuzzies did not raise expectations too high. We expected gangs to be lounging about, picking teeth with switchblades or doing maintenance on their Uzis.

Wrong! The park is a delight.

Between the last Google Earth pix in 2007 and now, they have torn the park apart and rebuilt it so much better. Gone are the boring grass lawns. Instead there are swales, decomposed granite paths, natural landscaping, night lighting, informational signage and a really good exercise circuit. They have a series of exercise machines which use your obese bod as the weight. Now, that’s resistance training.

There are two interesting tot lots with water. TB likes the one with hollow log slide – kind of bear-like. The park runs down the river from Rosecrans to Somerset. Down at the Somerset end is the only 4* restroom seen on the LARIO from Peck Lake to De Forest Park.

The folks in the park were dog walkers, just plain walkers, LARIO walkers, exercise circuit walkers, families with bikes, etc. Not an Uzi cleaner in sight. It was all quite civil. The parking lot was rather full and one suspects a number were bikies out on the trail.

Instead of survey and run, we used Dills as the Trailhead du Jour for the survey in this area. While the Situational Awareness Radar was set on Yellow, no twitchy returns were received. Assemble the bike and start to explore. First stop – the Rosecrans Bridge for a view of the…

TURTLE MURAL, 95’, GE: N33.90353 W118.18236

There are three murals along the LA River in this area. The turtle mural is just below Rosecrans. For some curious reason, the murals are painted on the bank walls on the trail side of the river. You can ride right past them and never see a thing. In fact, TB finds that he missed the whale mural at Somerset, but he found the sharks at Alondra.

To view them, you need to get out on the bridges or on the far side of the river. With binoculars. Look for whales at Somerset and sharks down at the Home Depot on Alondra. There are miles of bare concrete. What we need are a lot of murals. Lease X yards of bank to known graffiti artists for canvas. Let them throw up something. A lot of this art is fresh, vigorous and excellent.

From Rosecrans, it was back down the length of Dills Park to Somerset. The parking there is on-street in the ‘hood, but it has that nice 4* restroom and water. That charted, time to head north to …

HOLLYDALE PARK, 71’, GE: N33.92084 W118.17591

The upper end of Hollydale was checked last Saturday. It had a good rest stop at the equestrian center. The lower end of the park has a bike access gate and a bike rest stop down below. It has water, shade, bike racks, trash and restrooms over by the basketball courts. It’s right next to the parking lot, so you can make this end of Hollydale your full service trailhead. TB still likes the rest stop by the horses better, but there is no parking there.

The trail between Dills and Hollydale features some of those waist high safety walls with vines. The vines were in flower and the air was perfumed. The trail surface along here is 5*. There is a pair of striped 5’ bike lanes and one 4’ ped lane outboard. Nary a crack to be seen.

The impression from Peck Lake to Dills and below (about 17 miles) is that the LARIO is the better ride. The pavement surface is excellent. You can only wish this paving contractor did the San Gabriel River Trail. The pavement is wider – two bike lanes and a ped lane. The river is wider. The grade is gradual. It could be a rail trail. Security has not been an issue in three visits to various portions of the trail. It was not an issue in Paramount – and that was flagged as a caution zone. It has all been quite mellow.

From Hollydale, it was back down the trail, past Dills to Alondra Blvd. and the …

HOME DEPOT TRAILHEAD, 65’, GE: N33.88772 W118.18694

This is handy – a full service Home Depot trailhead right alongside the trail at Alondra Blvd. Plenty of parking and just a few yards off the trail. You can buy some plywood or nails and take a ride. Ride on. Another 1.25 miles will take you back to De Forest Park.

As for the TrailBear, he is heading to the van. Going to pack it up and head over to Bellflower to survey a new (Fall 2009) rail trail – the Bellflower Bike Trail. It runs from the SGRT at Carruthers Park up to the border with Paramount at Lakewood Blvd. Paramount is said to be interested in extending it to the LA River. Now, that would be nice. A Class 1 cross-trail connector for loop rides. You can see the old Red Cars right of way running like a surgical scar for twenty miles from the LA River over to the Santa Ana River.


Trail Surface = 5/5*. Excellent condition, wide and smooth. Vine covered walls are a plus.
Scenery = 3-4/5*. It’s the Los Angeles River. You can only expect so much. However, the space grows on you. Think: Margaret Bourke-White and Ft. Peck Dam. It’s that look.


Facilities = 2-5/5* Dills Park blows all the others away, but there are restrooms and water in two locations at Hollydale, at Dills, at Home Depot and at De Forest. You do have choices.

Ride on!

Putting the icons on the map.

TrailBear surveys the Lower Rio Hondo Bikeway


GRANT REA PARK – TRAIL ACCESS, 195’, GE: N34.01508 W118.09242

It’s a warm, sunny Saturday and the TrailBear is back to do a facilities survey on the lower portion of the Rio Hondo Bikeway – which is part of the LARIO (LA RIVER/RIO HONDO) Trail. His survey of the Upper Rio Hondo has already been added to the LARIO map.

The Trailhead du Jour is Grant Rea Park, Montebello, just below the Rio Hondo gates on the Whittier Narrows Dam. The dam has gates on both the San Gabriel River and the Rio Hondo. Wiki explains how they can shunt water this way and that.

Grant Rea is a baseball park and full service trailhead. We got an early start and were there at 0730, with a pick of the parking. By noon they were parking out on the street on both sides. As we arrived, some roadies were coming in from their rides and packing it up. It promised to be a day in the 80s. It was. In summer, best be on the trail very early.

Pedal up Rea Drive to the signed access point shown on the title above. (Cut and paste coordinates into Google Earth to see where these facilities are located. The access point is a bit less than normal. The road is gated and locked. That’s normal. There is no bike/ped gate. Not normal. Just scamper around that tree and back on the road.

It underpasses Beverly Blvd. and ends in a fence. Go around the end of the fence (as noted, not your usual access motif) to get on the access trail from the intersection to the Rio Hondo. You could have played in traffic and just crossed Beverly to this point – but where is the fun in that? The access trail runs over the horse trail on a bridge and there you are on the Rio Hondo.

Turn left and you ride up to the Whittier Narrows Dam and the upper Rio Hondo Trail. Turn right and you can ride to the ocean. TrailBear heads down stream.

First impression of the lower RH: This is a nice trail. Final impression after 20 miles: This is a nice trail. It's 9.8 miles down to the Hollydale Rest Area on the LA River Bikeway, just below the Rio Hondo Confluence.

The lower Rio Hondo has 5/5* blacktop and a wide surface. There are a pair of 5’ bike lanes and paved shoulder that run 2-3’ on both side. Room to pass. This is not the San Gabriel River Trail with a cross-trail crack every 10-20’ and many cracks running down the trail (most open – thunka, thunka, thunka for miles). There was hardly a crack to be seen or felt from the dam to the LA River and beyond. (The Upper Rio Hondo offers SGRT style cracks for those enjoy the thunkas.) After a mile, TB locked out his front and rear suspension and transformed the Gutterbunny ’10 into a hardtail.

Give it a 5/5* on trail surface and a 4/5* on scenery. Not too shabby for an LA County concrete river trail. Wide open vistas. Mostly it runs alongside neighborhoods, turning industrial as it nears the LA river. Facilities … 3/5*.

The trail is an inclined plane. You slowly drop or gain altitude vs. ascending each weir dam (SGRT). There was not a lot of roadie traffic. Probably over on the San Gabriel. Roadies, joggers, casual bikers, family outings and occasional dog walkers were seen. By and large there was plenty of room to ride.

BLUFF RD. WAYSIDE, 179’, GE: N34.00148 W118.10284

1.28 miles below Grant Rea Park is the Bluff Rd. Wayside. It has a large overhead cover, bike rack, water fountain (not working), picnic tables and trash. This is a very nice facility. One of the best the TrailBear has seen – and he surveys in six Western states. The only thing comparable is found along the lake section of the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes in Idaho (one table, overhead cover, vault toilet, no water, great view). From the wayside a trail leads uphill, over the horse trail and into the ‘hood on the bluff above.

From Beverly Blvd. down to Treasure Island Park below the I-5, you have spreading ground ponds to the west of the trail. There is a road on the far side, which means that you can ride the trail or ride the road. The cross connections at the ends of the ponds are usually gated closed, so stick to the trail unless you know the area – or don’t mind back tracking. There was bike and foot traffic on the eastern side of the Rio Hondo. It may be possible to ride up one side and down the other. Have to try it and see.

In the Bluff Rd. Wayside area you also have stables – and chickens. Lots and lots of chickens. Just listen to all that crowing and squawking.

THE RIO HONDO SPREADING GROUNDS, 161’, GE: N33.99273 W118.10572

After you leave the Bluff Rd. Wayside, the next attraction is 0.7 miles down trail – the Rio Hondo Spreading Grounds in Pico Rivera. Take the bridge into the grounds and take a look. They had done a great job with the facilities. There are benches along the trails and groups of picnic shelters at intervals. The big group is the first one you reach. Today there was water in a number of the ponds, slowly sinking into the ground to recharge the aquifer below.

Head down stream from the Grounds and cross under I-5. On the right is the Veteran’s Memorial Park in Commerce. TB hoped it would make a nice trailhead. Google Earth showed what looked like access. No such luck. He took the trail across the spreading ground and rode under the park.

The Welcome Mat was out. The outer fence was cyclone wire with barbed wire topping and a garnish of razor wire. The inner fence featured six strands of barbed wire atop cyclone wire. No access. No signs, but he wondered if the area between had mines. Things were a bit better further down.

TREASURE ISLAND PARK, 119’, GE: N33.96782 W118.13087

A long strip park - Treasure Island Park – is 0.7 miles below Veterans Park. This is a ‘hood park and has one water fountain midway plus assorted picnic shelters. No restrooms. Parking is at the south end. They need a bike gate and wayside by way of the water fountain. One nice feature in this section is the waist high wall on the river side of the trail. They have planted vines every 20’ and they are spreading up and down the wall. In the coming years this will be a delight. Another 1.3 miles will bring you to…

JOHN ANSON FORD PARK, 106’, GE: N33.95847 W118.15074

John Anson Ford Park in Bell Gardens is a large sports park which serves as the start of the annual Tour de Sewer Ride. It can also be your full service trailhead for the lower Rio Hondo. It is about 1.5 miles from the end of the trail below the confluence. There are restrooms, water, a pond, picnic shelters, walks and game fields.

The soccer fields were covered in small players. A soccer dad sounds the same exhorting in Spanish as one does in English. Three bike bums were scattered about, taking their ease upon the grass, bikes by their sides. A half mile below the bike gate to Ford Park, you reach the …

BIKE BRIDGE AT CRAWFORD PARK, 97’, GE: N33.95246 W118.15732

Here you cross the channel to the eastern side to align with the LA River Bikeway below the confluence. Little Crawford Park is right below the other end of the bridge. It was rather a bust. Restrooms locked. No water seen. Give it a pass. Head down the channel 1.7 miles to the …

CONFLUENCE, 92’, GE: N33.93200 W118.17475

Here the channel of the Rio Hondo runs into the LA River channel. The LA channel is certainly wider and has a center channel running water. The Rio Hondo Bikeway runs a bit further. Where it stops – take a guess.

Probably where the first sign for the LA River Bikeway appears below the confluence. On the back is a Rio Hondo sign. TrailBear would have stenciled something on the trail. There are mileage markers every 0.25 miles up the trail – Rio Hondo Bikeway 0.25, etc. Try: Rio Hondo Bikeway 0.0/ LA River Bikeway 12.5. The LA sign is informative: Next access – Hollydale Park ½ mile; Rosecrans Ave. Access 2 mi., etc. It’s 12.25 miles to the ocean.
Since it’s only a half mile to Hollydale, TrailBear rides on.

HOLLYDALE REST AREA, 74’, GE: N33.92525 W118.17540

This rest area is set in the equestrian area at the upper end of Hollydale Park –. The boys were working their horses in the fenced area by the rest area. It’s a nice stop: water, restrooms, shade, picnic tables and even a row of palms. The nearest parking lot is 0.22 miles south. You can use this park as a trail head. Additional restrooms and water are at the lower end along with several access points.

The LA River Bikeway running south from here to the sea looked inviting – broad, good pavement and adventures around the corner. Perhaps too much adventure. notes: “Some viewers advise: Don't plan on stopping for flats, water, finding restrooms, etc. and don't go alone.”

But, but. These surveys are all about putting the restrooms, the water fountains, the trail heads, the access points and other features on the map so you can plan your ride better. TrailBear usually rides alone.

He has seen nothing from the confluence to the Peck Rd. Water Conservation Park on the Rio Hondo that would suggest riding into danger. It has all been quite civil. The Rio Hondo has been a great ride. Of course, night time will not find him here. (Bear has a few brains.)

One thing not seen on any of these trails – a cop on a bike. If they are patrolled, it would appear to be on alternate leap years. On the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes you saw maintenance crews riding the trail every day. The Route of the Hiawatha had trail rangers on bikes going up and down and held a sunset sweep to close the trail – just in case someone was stuck out there.

What are the problem areas? When asked, a chap from the Long Beach City bike operation tactfully pointed out in PC Speak that what happens on the trail reflects the adjacent neighborhoods. Now try to get a list of neighborhoods with bad reflections. Just try.

The next survey will start down in Long Beach and head up river until TrailBear feels that he best not be where he is. Then it will be: About face and move out smartly. Stay tuned.

Ride on!
Putting the icons on the map.




On a warm, sunny Saturday, the TrailBear met up with the informative and elegant Alice (from Bikeforum) to survey the Whittier Narrows sector and sort out what connects to what. Alice, mounted on a classic French road bike, has lived in the sector for years, ridden all the trails and knows the rides and the history. What better guide could a TrailBear have as he sorted out the LARIO, the Upper Rio Hondo Bikeway, the SGRT and their cross connections, all of which come together in the Whittier Narrows?

LEGG LAKE PARK, 210’ GE: N34.03749 W118.06359

Legg Lake was the trailhead for the ride. Should it be Legg Lakes? There are three of them. This is a park in the Whittier Narrows Dam County Recreational Area. There are three lakes, many paths and facilities and a five mile round-the-lakes bike trail. It’s a nice place and a handy full service trailhead for the Whittier Narrows sector as the LARIO is to the west and the San Gabriel River Trail is to the east, and both close aboard.

It’s a fee park. It’s a free park. We can’t figure it out. You can tell the free lots – they are filled. You can tell the pay lots – they are empty – save for a few of the not too bright and the ticket takers. We parked in a free lot just off Rosemead Blvd. at the base of the north lake. Water and restroom there, and throughout the park. This is not Irvine, however. Dear Wife said the loo should be downchecked from 2* to 1* after a day of use.

ACCESS POINT ON DURFEE, 217’, GE: N34.03053 W118.05623

The first question was: Is there safe bike access from Legg Lake(s) to the San Gabriel River Trail? Yes, there is. From the southern parking lot, between two maintenance yards, you will see a sidewalk leading to Durfee Ave. Across the street is a locked drive gate with open ped gate on the right side and a stack of trail signs. Scamper across Durfee, fling yourself through the ped gate and mount up. This road will take you down to the Four Corners Junction – where the trails meet at Whittier Narrows Dam.

THE FOUR CORNERS JUNCTION, 210’, GE: N34.02351 W118.05465

Just above the Whittier Narrows Dam is the Four Corners Junction where the San Gabriel River Trail, the Upper Rio Hondo Trail and the access trail from Legg Lake come together. From here you can ride up the SGRT for miles and miles to the mountains. You can ride down the SGRT for more miles to the sea. You can head up the Upper Rio Hondo. You have choices. We headed up the Upper Rio Hondo.


It would be easier if the LA River Trail ran to the Rio Hondo confluence and the Rio Hondo Trail ran up it. Tidy, logical and easy to understand, but no. Which is why we have the LARIO Trail (LA River/Rio Hondo) and the Upper Rio Hondo Trail. LA County Department of Public Works notes that the LARIO is 28 miles long and starts north of the Whittier Narrows Dam.

The Friends of the Los Angeles River’s official guide book, “Down by the Los Angeles River,” notes that the Upper Rio Hondo Trail begins at the Peck Rd. Water Conservation Park in Arcadia and continues 5.2 miles down to end at Rush St., at the top of the Narrows, where the LARIO Trail begins.

Having done the trail, TB notes that you really can’t tell. Same cracked asphalt on both sides. Besides, if that is the case, why is there an Upper Rio Hondo Trail sign way down at Four Corners? It should be LARIO. Inconsistent signage, that’s what. This is confusion and a point of interest to geographers.

For the bikies, just think of it all as LARIO, from sea to Peck Road Park on the west side of the Narrows and SGRT, from sea to canyon mouth, on the east side of the Narrows. Which is why this review is on the LARIO page. (The other reason is that no one has posted a review or a photo on this page, and TB was feeling sorry for the poor LARIO.) Truth be known, the LARIO/URH from the Narrows to Peck Rd. is a rather nice ride. TB will be back to check out the ride from Narrows to LA River.

We headed up Siphon Rd./Upper Rio Hondo Trail to the junction of Rosemead and San Gabriel. Across Rosemead is a section of the LARIO heading south to the sea on one side of San Gabriel. On the other side it heads up to Peck Rd. Park. The only trailhead in this sector is a failed one: Bosque del Rio Hondo Park at 34.029412° -118.068235°. It’s a charming little park at the corner of the intersection with three problems: $5 fee, no water working, restrooms locked. For this I should pay $5.00?! (TB is parked in a free lot at Legg Lake.)


A bit of sidewalk work and the trail dives into the greenery. Alice pointed out that Back in the Day – before the cars made it possible to drive to the ocean – this was it - riverside beach recreation. There is a nice wayside with tables and trash. No water fountain seen. This part of the trail is quite green and pleasant. Meadows filled with spring flowers, groves of trees and garlands of trash way high up from the last decent flood thru here. Nice riding.

LOMA AVE. TRAILHEAD, 208’, GE: 34.043544° -118.068393°

From the meadows we passed alongside the shotgun range, ducked under the Pomona Freeway and hit the junction of the LARIO and the side trail to Loma Ave. trailhead. This area is devoted to flying model airplanes. There is even a small runway. You can find parking, restrooms and water at Loma Ave. Free? No idea. The trail here has an overhead cover to provide some protection from the model aircraft.

The LARIO ends and the Upper Rio Hondo begins north of here at Rush St. The greenery of the Whittier Narrows Rec Area gives way to the traditional SoCal river – a concrete channel. However, the views to the mountains are wide open and it’s a pleasant ride up “river”.

LASHBROOK PARK, 241’, GE: N34.06591 W118.06348

There are some new pocket parks being developed along the Rio Hondo and SGRT as part of the Emerald Necklace program. Lashbrook is one. At the upper end is a water fountain, wayside, tot lot and one of those decorative gates we seen in this area. Some on-street parking for access. Good looking wayside.

The Necklace is a series of river-side parks on the Rio Hondo and SGRT from Whittier Narrows to Peck Rd. They hope to do a cross trail between Peck Rd. Park and the SGRT to make a loop. That will be nice. It’s about a 19 mile loop ride, and scenic. Check it out:

FLETCHER PARK, 255’, GE: N34.07108 W118.04781

Fletcher Park, by the 10 Freeway and the El Monte Bus Station, was rather a bust. There is parking, there is water, there are locked restrooms. This may be due to the “diverse demographic” one finds floating about a bus station. Pioneer Park is a bit further on. Try there.

Further up the trail, where Valley Blvd. crosses the river, there is a new El Monte wayside park, plaza with benches and veteran’s memorial. Nice spot. Next scenic attraction is the El Monte Airport with small aircraft coming in over the trail. Round the corner at the airport and ahead is a dam. Can it be? Yes it is!


It’s the end of the trail. From the sea way down in Long Beach Harbor, up the LA River, up the Rio Hondo Channel, through the Narrows and onto the Upper Rio Hondo Trail to Peck Lake (former gravel pit). It’s a large lake and a nice park. Usual water, restrooms, parking lot with shade, picnic tables, BBQs, trail to other side of lake, etc.

For Alice and the TrailBear, it’s just half the ride. Now, how to get back to the SGRT and down to Legg Lake again? Consult TB’s map collection. If we go cross-lots on these neighborhood streets and work down to Lower Azuza Rd., we will hit an access point on the SGRT. Says so on the LA County Bike Map.

Step one – dash across N. Peck Rd. Enter the Rio Hondo Parkway – which is not. Nice, quiet ‘hood streets with low traffic and interesting homes. Thence to Cogswell and down toward Lower Azuza. The smart move would have been to cut over on Roseglen, cutting off some of Lower Azuza, a busy arterial with no bike lanes.

Sidewalk ahead, dive onto it. Bridge ahead and there is the SGRT access. Hard right and we are back on Class 1 trail, descending a series of the weir dams on the San Gabriel.

THIENES AVE. TRAILHEAD, 238’, GE: N34.03894 W118.02828

At the end of Thienes Ave. is one of the newer bits of the Emerald Necklace – the Thienes Ave. trailhead. Here is some on-street parking, a decorative gate, a water fountain, a sheltered bench, info signs and horses. The area just up river is a horse sector, with stables and such. The equestrian center is down in the river bed by the dam and there is horse traffic up and down. Mostly on their own horse trail, but they share the underpasses. Whoops!

TB vows to mount the MagicShine light next time – all the better to see the horse apples in that dark freeway underpass. Plus, the light has a strobe feature that may cause grand mal seizures but it sure attracts attention. See bear, avoid same. Heading out around dawn he often sees a bikie coming his way. You can see that bikie three blocks off with his strobing headlight. Also has a strobe taillight. Gotta get one of those.

From Thienes Ave. we are back in the Narrows. Here comes the Nature Center – no horses or bikes. Here comes the Four Corners Junction. We head to the top of the dam to see the sights. Photos in all directions. Then back down to the corners and up the trail to Legg Lake and the van. Done. Except the survey paperwork. That is done by 22:55 that night.


The loop ride was about 19 miles. We poked into corners here and there, so your mileage will vary. It was an enjoyable ride. Do it again? Sure will. The LARIO Trail has a bad rap, but the Upper Rio Hondo is a good ride. The loop makes it better. Next time it will be down the Rio Hondo to see how that section of trail stacks up.

The best trail heads were at the ends – Legg Lake and Peck Park. The Thienes Ave. trailhead over on the SGRT was a welcome sight. From there the next water up is at the base of the Santa Fe Dam, about 6 miles up.


SCENERY – 4* URBAN. Liked the greenery in the Narrows. Liked the wide open vistas of the mountains on the Upper Rio Hondo. Good ride.
TRAILBED – 3*. They must have bought a 2” asphalt job on these trails. Cross cracks about every 10’ for miles. Some filled. Many not. Thumpa…thumpa…thumpa. Seems to be the norm in LA County. Better trail surfaces in Irvine and the OC.
FACILITIES-2* to 5*. The local park restrooms will never make a 5* on the Irvine Scale. The new waysides are well done 5* projects. Love those decorative gates.

Ride on!
Putting the icons on the map.

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