As much as I love running, cycling for cross-training provides me a ton of joy. There’s something about the speed on the bike and the power to cover long distances that thrills me. That said, road biking terrifies me.
Attention drivers: Watch for cyclists! Treat them like any other vehicle on the road! They have just as much right to be there as you do!
Given that I do not trust drivers to act like rational people who actually give a hoot about my safety, I seek out dedicated bikeways whenever possible (Santa Ana River Trail (SART) in Orange County, Bear Creek Path in La Quinta, Riverside County Regional Trail, SR-56 Bike Path in Poway, and Whittier Greenway Trail). So when my husband proposed that we hire a babysitter so we could go on a Sunday morning date recently, I convinced him to check out the Rio Hondo Bike Path in Los Angeles County with me.
Rio Hondo trail head: Technically the northernmost trailhead is located off Live Oak Avenue in Arcadia, California, just west of the Live Oak Garden at 4030 East Live Oak Avenue. However, it is much easier to park at the Peck Road Water Conservation Park at 5401 Peck Road in Arcadia, and start at the trailhead there. Don’t blink as you drive along Peck Road between Lower Azusa Road and Live Oak Avenue or you’ll miss the tiny entrance to the park on the west side of the street.
Trail end: The trail ends when it converges with the Los Angeles River Trail in South Gate. At that point you could continue down the L.A. River Trail a/k/a Lario/LaRio/LARio all the way to the Pacific Ocean at Long Beach, or bike up the L.A. River Trail all the way to Los Angeles.
Total distance: approximately 17 miles one way, 34 miles out-and-back. For longer distances you can easily hook up with either the San Gabriel River Trail (see “Tip” below) or go to the end of the Rio Hondo and continue on the L.A. River Trail.
Tip for easiest trail navigation: When the Rio Hondo trail hits the intersection of Rosemead Boulevard (the 19) and San Gabriel Boulevard, do not cross Rosemead. Instead, ride on San Gabriel Boulevard northwest (backtracking a bit) until you turn left on E. Lincoln Ave. The trail continues immediately on the left after you turn onto Lincoln. Note that if you want to hook up to the San Gabriel River Trail, then at the intersection of Rosemead and San Gabriel you can cross both streets and take a small side branch of the Rio Hondo (you will see the trail at the corner of Rosemead and Durfee Ave and it runs along Durfee Avenue for a bit until it continues along Siphon Road). I think that’s the prettiest section of the whole trail. After about a mile you hit the San Gabriel River Trail. At that point, if you change your mind and you want to hook back up to the Rio Hondo you can do so by following a side trail to the Whittier Narrows Dam (I suggest you search on Google Maps for “Whittier Narrows Dam” to see how the various trails branch off in this area to the east of the dam).
Bikeway conditions: The pavement on the trail is in good condition and has been recently redone in a few places. For one small section as you re-enter the trail off Lincoln Ave., the trail is a little rough. My favorite feature of the trail was the chain link fence “tunnel” that protects bikers from getting hit by the remote control airplanes launched from a trailside park.
Restrooms: There are restrooms at the park trailhead. Several parks along the way offer bathrooms and drinking fountains.
Trail safety: This trail is best traveled in pairs or larger groups. I cannot say the trail was unsafe exactly but as a woman I wouldn’t want to ride it alone and even my husband was skeptical, and that was mid-morning on a Sunday.
With an unintended detour at that confusing intersection at Rosemead Boulevard, Mike and I ended up riding for 36 miles in 2 hours 21 minutes. It was chilly and windy and my legs were burned from running 13 miles the day before, but we had a blast!