Rio Hondo

The San Gabriel Valley’s “Other” River

Rio Hondo
Part of the Hondo/San Gabriel/Legg Lake circuit.

Although it links to the San Gabriel River Trail via the Whittier Narrows Recreation Area (see the close-up of Legg Lake and Upper San Gabriel River bikeway), the Rio Hondo is actually a tributary of the LA River (Lario); as you’ll see if you click onto Google’s map, it converges with the mighty Los Angeles near Downey, just south of John Anson Ford Park.

Since there are probably more flood basins along this stretch of river than any other river path, there are more spots where you’re further away from residences and other structures, giving the feeling of being out in the country (tho’ you may not be able to tell what country.)

Thomas Guide pp 597, 637, 676, 705.

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Dry Path
On entering the Whittier Narrows Recreation Area Park, the concrete abruptly ends, although the river continues in a meandering course through lots of jungly overgrowth. At this point, the bike path swerves over into the park, where it cuts through picnic grounds, soccer fields, and greenery.
soccer
At the northern end of the path, near the gravel pits, you’ll come upon the aptly-named Peck Road Water Conservation Park (left). Below that is a long, extremely barren stretch of concrete river.

Straightaway
Water's End

Greenery
This park is one of the best for greenery: it has more tall pines and older growth than many other bike trail parks, since most of the others are built on landfill.
At the 10 Freeway the bike path makes a right turn and follows alongside the freeway, before dipping down under the road and onward to the south.

Traffic whizzing by
View from the bike trail!
Further south, toward the 5 Frwy,
you run into the rust belt.

Viewer’s Comment

  • I’m one-way bike commuting from my home in Monrovia to downtown LA. In the evening I take the MetroLink to El Monte and pedal the rest of the way home. I sometimes take the Rio Hondo bike trail, but the gate at Valley Blvd is locked. I squeeze my way through a gap in the fence and scurry down the
    steep, concrete hill in my cleats. . . .
    The ride North from there is quite nice passing several lakes (former gravel pits). The trail lets out onto the street right behind a small golf course in a quiet neighborhood.

    – Mark
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    13 Comments

    1. Hi, My friend and I are trying to find the best way to bike to work from Pico Rivera to Bell Gardens (Ford Park).

      We found an entrance to the riverbed right at Ford Park, but when we tried to ride back to Pico Rivera, we couldn’t find any exits on the side of the river that we were on until we got to Washington, and that exit dumped us onto Washington in an area that doesn’t have any sidewalk or bike lane or anything.

      The best place for us to get on/off would be on Telegraph or Slauson, but we didn’t see any possible way to get on/off the bike path in those areas. The gates were locked and chained.

      Why are these entrances locked during the day? Who do I contact about getting the best route to work? Please advise.

      Best,
      Linda

      Reply
      • Linda,

        My wife and I recently moved to the area and are thinking the exact same thing! I see that your post is about a year old, so I’m hoping you’ve solved your problem! If so, could you share it with us?! :) We live in a cute little neighborhood just off of Paramount and Telegraph. The nearest access that I’ve found is 2 miles away at the Treasure Island Park near Suva St.

        Thanks so much!!

        -Robert K

        Reply
    2. The map showing the northernmost entrance to the Rio Hondo Bike path is not correct, so I set out from my house (after looking for hours at Google maps and Google Earth. I found it. The entrance is actually further north, on Live Oak av. in Arcadia. (Right next to the Arcadia Golf course at 620 E. Live Oak Av, Arcadia, CA)

      If you go south on this bike path, you go alongside the golf course until it drops down next to the small lake at the Peck Road Water Conservation Park. I believe you can park at this park and get on the bike path here also. It is very pretty and scenic (See photo link below). I then continued south past the El Monte airport and turned around at Valley Bl. There are entrances/exits at Santa Anita (next to Sam’s Club) and also further south at Valley bl./Santa Anita Av. in El Monte.

      I turned around, but ostensibly if you kept going south you’d get to Whittier Narrows and eventually link up to the L.A> River bike trail.

      Anyway, the upper part of the Rio Hondo trail I rode was very uncrowded, and one highlight (Aside from riding next to the small lake) was a bunch of benches right next to the airport runway. I saw about 7 or 8 small planes landing. You are maybe only 100 yards from the landing strip, which is really cool.

      PUBLIC PHOTOS

      Reply
    3. I rode this path today…From Peck Road Water
      about conservation Park to the “Y” with the LA rio…about 55km
      Its pretty cool from Peck Road Park until whittier Narrows DAm, all concrete jungle from there on. The little section south of San Gabriel Blvd to Whittier Narrows dam is pretty cool, but too short. Between the Park and wooded area is concrete jungle as well. It goes right by the airport, which I though was kind of annoying…it was July 4th, so there were lots of planes taking off with advertising banners.
      The surface is nice and smooth overall…just crossing San Gabriel Blvd you go through a short unpaved patch, and you cross the street. I have a road bike, but fortunately no damage to my tires. You can ride on the street that little bit, but I prefer to stay away from cars as much as possible.
      I’m still getting started in bicycling, but I am pretty sure I will shortly be able to ride from Peck Road Park to Long Beach.
      If you are looking for a fun way to burn calories, and avoid boredom, you should check out all of the LA bike paths.

      Reply
      • Hi I am trying to figure out how to ride from El Monte to Pico Rivera off of Washington. I don’t know what trail to take after I cross Rosemead and San Gabriel Blvd. towards the other trails. Would you happen to know?

        Reply
    4. I am planning a ride to Alta Loma, Ca., and I live in Wilmington. I want to take Anaheiem St., all the way to the Los Angeles River bike path and bicycle all the way to past Imperial Hwy., where the path splits, so I want to take the Rio Hondo bike path all the way to Arrow highway, but I think it doesn’t go that far, I think it goes as far as Valley Blvd, where I’ll travel to the San Gabriel River b. p., and get off on Arrow Highway. After visiting places and going to a club, want to return through the same route, and I wonder, I noticed on another site, a stretch of the Rio Hondo b. p. riddle with graffitti and a comment about the b. p. going through some housing projects by Pico Rivera, my question is, would it be dangerous traveling late at night 2, 3 in the morning,
      through this Rio Hondo bike path to the Los Angeles river bike path?, has there been any reports of any type of criminal activity by the path?. About 3 months ago, the body of a man was found by the Los Angeles river, by where the b.p. ends, Bandini Blvd., City of Commerce, right by that area, there are some projects where teenagers and gangbangers like to hang around, by the first underpass after Bandini towards Long Beach, I have had some few close calls with some of this groups of young thugs who, as soon as they see me approaching, they want to block my way and knock me down my bicycle. I wonder how safe is the Rio Hondo bike path, day and night, thank you for your help.

      Reply
    5. Hi I am trying to figure out how to ride from El Monte to Pico Rivera off of Washington. I don’t know what trail to take after I cross Rosemead and San Gabriel Blvd. towards the other trails. Would you happen to know?

      Reply
      • The trail continues right at the corner of Lincoln Ave and San Gabriel Blvd. Once you get in that trail, you can take it to Washington. As you approach Washington Blvd, make a left and go over the bridge. You can then get off on Washington.

        Reply
    6. There is no mention of the air quality along the Rio Hondo. I usually find it much better than the San Gabriel River, which runs parallel to the nearby 605. One usually doesn’t encounter Hispanics with baseball bats stealing bikes under the Rio Hondo bridges as they have done for many years along the San Gabriel either making it a safer and more pleasant excursion.

      Reply
      • LMAO. I’ve ridden the San Gabriel River Trail for years and have never witnessed any hispanics with baseball bats stealing bikes. What an ignorant, racist comment. The morons on the internet are taking over, I swear.

        Reply
      • Stop living in fear Clay and just ride! The Lord forgives you and so do I.

        Reply
    7. I agree with Adam. I’ve ridden it for years. No trouble at all. Racism is foul. Bikes are beautiful. I’m riding Peck Rd. Water Park –> Long Beach Shoreline Park round-trip with a friend this coming Wednesday.

      Who’s in?

      Meet 8:30, Ride 9:00.

      The only way to squash racism is to live well right in it’s face!

      Reply
    8. I’d like to know of any loops I can do regarding the trails near me. I get on the SGRT at Florence Ave in Downey, and either ride to Seal Beach and back (South), or to the very North end of the SGRT in Azuza and back. But these routes are getting boring to me.

      Every once in a while going North on the SGRT when I approach the “4 corners” that’s right past the pico rivera golf course, I’ll bust a left and take the upper Rio Hondo trail to Peck Park and back.

      Those are basically the only 3 routes I take, and they are getting boring and repetitive. Are there any loops I can do?

      I’ve never ridden the rest of the Rio Hondo trail, only the “upper” part to Peck Park. I dont even know how to get on it. And I haven’t ridden the LA river either but I need some sort of loop because I want to avoid traffic.

      Reply

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