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November 08, 2007

Rolling, Rolling on the Rivers: San Gabriel River Bicycle Trail 1

There is nothing like a 10 minute bike ride at 4am, on a cool Monday morning, to clear the cobwebs!

I had just set out on the 1st of many journeys to report on the joys of bicycling along three of the mightiest rivers in Southern California! (Rolling, Rolling on the Rivers: An Introduction.)

Starting at my first bus stop in Garden Grove, at 430am, and ending at 805am in Azusa, it takes me three busses and a one mile bike ride to get to the starting point of my journey. (Directions and Transit Info will appear at the end of this series.)

A surprising starting point it is, too!

Sga_tr1 At the point where Highway 39 (San Gabriel Canyon Rd.) hangs a right, near the Ranger Station, to begin its journey into the mountains, there is a parking lot on the north side of the road near a new entrance to the bike trail.

Open 7 days a week, from 7am to 10pm, there are 19 spaces, and 2 more for the disabled, but not a porta-potty in sight!

I should say that it is a good idea that a bathroom stop be made a mile south, at Pioneer Park, on Sierra Madre Ave., a block east of San Gabriel Canyon Rd./Azusa Ave. ;-D

The original trail has an official distance of 38 miles, but by starting the odometer at the new trail head, as I did, plus a minor detour, the journey is extended to 40.85 miles. (Start your odometer at the parking lot for the mile to the new trail head if you wish.)

At 840am, after eating an apple, banana, and cliff bar for breakfast, I headed east on the connector a quarter mile, and discovered the 3/4 mile extension of the trail into the entrance to San Gabriel Canyon where a couple of new housing developments have been built on the other side of the river.

Sga_tr2_2

So the old trail head has a companion trail head, no doubt built to entice the nearby residents into leaving their homes and exercising. ;-D

At 9am, on this foggy, cloudy and cool morning, I finally head out and begin to travel south by re-acquainting myself with the easy rollies that make the northern trail so much fun to ride as you pass the rock quarries.

Sga_tr3

I stop, get off the bike, walk into the center of the river and take one last look at the mountains.

That span across the river transports rock from the quarry on west side of the river to facilities on the east side. (From left to right in the photo.)

After 4 miles I pass something new: A parking lot and restrooms at the Santa Fe Equestrian Staging Area, located at what is the northern end of the Whittier Narrows Recreation Area. It has picnic tables and bike racks.

Soon I pass the 1st of several freeways along the route.

Watch out for this first underpass, it's a Doozy! I'd forgotten how the trail winds its way as it travels under the freeway.

Normally one can see for miles, to the south, as you travel this area of the trail, but it stays cloudy for most of the day.

Sga_tr4 After 6 miles I enter the northern end of the recreation area and am surrounded by Mother Nature in all her desert glory.

I have begun to see more cyclists now that it is 930am.

Look around as you ride.

Stop, get off your bike, and explore your surroundings a little, especially in the natural areas.

Man encased these mighty rivers in concrete, not just to try to tame their violent flooding tendencies, but because he was putting down roots in suburbs further and further from the coast.

Did he win the battle completely?

That is a question you will have to decide for yourself as you explore the rivers and in the case of the San Gabriel, well...let's get back on the bike, and travel on.

Sga_tr5 The trail heads left, away from the inner river, where hiking and horse trails hold sway, at the Nature Center (Plenty of parking and picnic tables! Also the last bathrooms you will see on the trail for a while.)

Follow the signs and you can't get lost as the trail goes along a street for a short distance.

After 7 miles I find myself passing a ticket booth as the trail takes you above and around the Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area, in Irwindale. This is a huge property with boating and fishing opportunities, as well as the access to the various hiking, horseback and cycling trails.

Many people forget that years ago this "Little Town that Tried" failed to lure the LA Raiders into remaining in SoCal with the notion of building a stadium in some of the undeveloped portions of this area.

On a clear day you can see the majesty of the San Gabriel Mountains to the north.

Sga_tr6

Along this stretch I encountered a young Hispanic cyclist taking his second trip along the trail and I gave him a card, encouraging him to share his thoughts on his adventures. At almost the 9 mile mark I head left, at the signed turn off, and down to Arrow Highway, where the trail heads a short distance east to a crosswalk.

Sga_tr7After crossing the street I return to the trail along the river and encounter a work crew putting our tax dollars to work.

They were putting the finishing touches on a decorative stop at this Entrance/Exit, adding benches, and bike racks, along with new paving, thus fixing this stretch of the trail up real nice.

I talked with a couple of the guys in charge and when I told them of this blog, giving one a card, I learned he'd heard of me! ;-D

Now the trail is on the west side of the river and the rollies have returned as I leave Irwindale behind.

A long day of is still ahead of me as I stop many times along the way.

Even if I wasn't doing so for this story I'd find myself stopping anyway.

There is just so much to see and enjoy that, if you have the whole day to ride, there is no excuse not to take it all in slowly. ;-D

***Continue on to - Rolling, Rolling on the Rivers: San Gabriel River Bicycle Trail 2***

November 8, 2007 in Riding Los Angeles County | Permalink

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Comments

Great ride on the river. Thanks for your thoughts re: Ralph the cat, Kiril.
Ira

Posted by: Ira Stone | Nov 9, 2007 4:28:33 AM

A wonderful, illustrated travel guide.

Having read it, I am eager to try this trip myself, including the bus part of it.

I've never tried taking my bike on the bus, but have been contemplating it as the gas prices keep going up.

Can you describe the mechanics of doing that?

I see the racks on the front of the O.C. buses, but am wondering how you go about stashing your bike on there, and what happens if somebody else has already put theirs on.


Also, can you describe your bicycle?

You seem to cover a lot of ground in a day's time, and I'm wondering if my bike, which is a Centurion from the 1980s, would be up to the ride.

Thanks again.

Posted by: Ray | May 27, 2008 9:35:59 PM

Glad U liked it, Ray! ;-D

Combining Bike & Bus is simple.

You have seen the rack, I'm sure.

Most Transit Agencies use racks with 2 slots, though some, such as in Long Beach, CA., have the new ones with 3 slots.

The wheels of most bikes will fit nicely in the rack,, and you can even have a pannier on your bike, and it will fit, though a full pannier might keep a 2nd bike from being carried.

The bike is held in place by a cane shaped pole one end of which clamps over the wheel to hold it securely.

If the racks are all occupied...you are screwed, and will have to wait for the next bus, or get some exercise, depending on your mood, how far you have to travel, and if you have to be there by a certain time. ;-D

Most Agencies make limited exceptions to this problem when busses make their final trip, allowing 1, 2, or even 3 bikes in the bus, based on the number of other passengers on the bus, and available room in the aisle.

If your route is a 24 hour route the chances are excellent that bus makes no exceptions.

As for my bike, it's what they call a Hybrid:

It's one of the early model Specialized Sirrus Sport, and has served me extremely well for years.

I Googled your bike, and it looks nice.

It has sufficient speed and the right type wheels, for commuting, and recreational cycling on pavement.

I don't like those type handlebars, but it's a matter of taste, and comfort, I suppose. ;-D

Bike Commuters, and Recreational Cyclists, use all types of bikes, from $150 Beach Cruisers, to Folding Bikes, to Mountain Bikes, to Racing Bikes that cost a fortune, and anything inbetween. ;-D

In the 90's I was riding a Mountain Bike until I realized that the knobby tires, while great for Mountain Biking, are not the best choice for commuting, and long rides on pavement, because they slow you down.

Posted by: Kiril, The Cycling Dude | May 30, 2008 2:51:52 AM

Your bike has sufficient speed and the right type wheels, for commuting, and recreational cycling on pavement.

I don't like those type handlebars, but it's a matter of taste, and comfort, I suppose. ;-D

Bike Commuters, and Recreational Cyclists, use all types of bikes, from $150 Beach Cruisers, to Folding Bikes, to Mountain Bikes, to Racing Bikes that cost a fortune, and anything inbetween. ;-D

Posted by: UB | Oct 20, 2010 10:21:43 PM

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