The Los Angeles River

Discussion in 'California' started by NileGuide, Feb 26, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. The Los Angeles River flows with water and contradiction. This waterway is the reason that Los Angeles was settled in the first place, yet it is now hidden beneath so many overpasses and bridges. Unlike most rivers, the L.A. river is now a man-made river, as most all of its year round flow is the outflow from water treatment plants upstream (which is supplemented by the water entering from storm drains). And of course this river is largely contained in that huge famous concrete gulch, built to control flooding. Another irony for this waterway is the importance of trash: plastic bags and other human debris serve a crucial role by capturing silt. Without this detritus with its nooks and crannies all the organic matter would be swept straight downstream through the concrete ditch, leaving the river sterile and absent of animal and plant life. Collected below are some photos from the section of the L.A. river bike path near where Fletcher Drive and Ripple Street (90039) meet :
    When I took these pictures in the evening, I found that the bike path and the river-side spaces were being well-used by a diverse community. The people out-and-about near the waterway ranged from well-heeled neighbors walking their dogs, to teenagers hanging out after school, to a wide range of bicyclists, and finally a transient element that is attracted to these less-controlled urban spaces.
    The L.A. River Bike Path is a segmented affair, with two main sections as list below:
    O> The longest section runs from the ocean in Long Beach to Atlantic Boulevard (S. Atlantic Blvd & District Blvd 90058), just south of downtown. This northern entrance is in an industrial neighborhood, making for some pretty intense bike riding complete with tractor trailers. The bike path itself is great, very flat so it is easy to make pretty good time. All the sea birds and the little ranches alongside the river with grazing horses make for good scenery.
    There is no bike path through the railway yards and downtown.
    O>The second segment of the Los Angeles River Bike Path starts on the other side of downtown, just north of where the 5 freeway crosses both the 110 freeway and the river. The path is on the west side of the river (although there are some isolated intervals of somewhat ride-able pavement on the east side as well). The bike path runs for 8 miles north to near the intersection of Riverside Drive and Zoo Drive, 90027. Parts of this second segment of the path are really choice, although there is a stretch along the 5 freeway that is less than ideal. The pictures above are from a portion of this section, where I did encounter a refreshingly large number of people walking and enjoying the river.
    That it is for the actual L.A. River Path itself.
    O>You can ride along the Orange Line Bike Path in the San Fernando Valley to access the river father upstream (the trailhead of this bike path is at the northern end of the Red Line). This Orange Line Bike Path is very flat and also makes for easy riding. Near its the western end the Orange Line path nears the river and meets with another rather short bike path beside the Los Angeles River in the Sepulveda Dam Recreation Area.
    Here are some relevant links: links page (This site also has a great L.A. bike routes guide, which seems to be down at the time of writing).
    Links page on
    Los Angeles Bike Path map (right clicking to download is probably the easiest way to view this). One note of explanation is needed to understand this map: Class I bike paths have no car access at all. Class 2 bike paths are a clearly marked bike lane next to the lane of traffic. Class 3 bike paths are just a wide enough street with car traffic (no marking on the street itself although you will see an occasional signs saying “bike route”).
    River tour with a lot of info and photos.
    Water reclamation plants that provide the year-round water flow in the the river.
    Short history of the Los Angeles River.
    [Photos courtesy of Noah Albert]

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