Car-free LA: LA River Trail (Upper Section)

The "Car-free LA" series profiles rideable terrain in and around Los Angeles that separates you from the endless stream on cars. All are rideable by road bikes unless otherwise noted.

Most people in Los Angeles do not even realize that there is river running right through the city. It is most famous for its appearance in film: a prototypical place for car races and chases. The river is not the most beautiful thing in the world with concrete lining and industrial setting, but it is something.

LA River bike path looking northbound at Fletcher
Dr. bridge. Just this year watercraft are now allowed here.
A seven mile trails run along the west side of the river in the Burbank / Glendale area. Seven glorious car-free miles along the west side of the river. You'll share the path with walkers, skaters, homeless people, and the occasional horse, but the path is generally pretty wide open and makes for a nice ride - fast or slow. Much of the river along the path has a "soft bottom," which allows trees and grasses to grow naturally and makes for a much nicer view and provides a habitat to surprisingly diverse population of birds. I mean nicer on a relative scale to the pure concrete section featured in Grease, Fast and the Furious, and countless other films - I am not trying to claim this is Yosemite Valley in the midst of downtown LA, but it is better than nothing.  Great Blue Heron, Snowy Egrets, Black-necked Stilts, Mallards and other birds are usually around in abundance and are easy to spot. I am always surprising to see a growing number of fisherman on the banks of the river, but I really hope that they aren't eating whatever they catch.

From the north end you can easily hook up with Griffith Park and come back over the hill via Mt. Hollywood Drive or other flatter roads, and on the south side Elysian Park offers some traffic-light roads to explore (when there isn't a Dodgers game).


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