Lower San Gabriel River Trail

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From Lakewood to the Ocean

Lower San Gabriel
Has some unique and surprising features . . .

This is the last 10 miles or so of the San Gabriel, from Lakewood to the Pacific, where the river marks the boundary between Long Beach and Seal Beach. It’s easily the prettiest stretch of the entire river trail, not only because the concrete river lining is replaced by rocks and plants as the river nears the ocean, but also because the best parks – large, such as El Dorado, and small, such as Liberty Park – most of them well-maintained and inviting, dot its banks.

This trail has connections: you can branch off to the northeast about six miles from the ocean, and follow the Coyote Creek trail; or, if you don’t mind cutting through a bit of heavy auto traffic, veer westward and pick up the Long Beach Shoreline Trail; or ride down the coast a few miles toward Huntington Beach and pick up Bolsa Chica.

Thomas Guide, pp 766, 796, 826.

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Like all the area river trails, there are long straight sections with few distractions. The best part of the trail, though, are the parks, such as El Dorado and Liberty.

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38 Comments

  1. John Herbert

    Question: How can I get from Leisure World on Seal Beach Blvd to the San Gabriel Trail heading toward PCH? Thanks

    Reply
    • Roberto Henderson

      Head north on seal beach blvd to westmister blvd and get on the trail right at the bridge that goes over it.

      Reply
  2. Suzy Kees

    Hope someone replied to your question, but if not hopefully this will help.
    There is a road, Beverly Manor Dr. that paralles the 405. It is a connector “spur” to the trail.

    Reply
  3. Suzy Kees

    Communted to work today along the lower San Gabrial…it was quite discouraging seeing all the trash floating in the water. It was exceptionaly bad between the PCH bridge and the 7th Street/22 overcrossing. It was high tide….!

    Reply
    • Garth

      The PCH underpass is one of the things that’s supposed to get corrected soon, building it up so it won’t be submerged at the extreme high tide. I frequently see fish jump down there though, and Friday saw a seal.

      Reply
      • ScoobyC5

        I live in harbor City and I’m not a fan of biking on or near the beach. Is there an area for me to bike in that’s not super hilly?

        Reply
  4. Bill Cross

    Coming from Pacific Coast Hwy, where does the bikepath split between the San Gabriel trail and the Coyote Creek trail?

    Reply
  5. jwm

    Bill:
    Right near El Dorado Park. There is a covered bridge that crosses the river. Going south on the San Gabriel, you cross the bridge to get to the last leg of the trail. If you’re going north from Seal Beach, and you want to stay on Coyote creek don’t cross the bridge.

    JWM

    Reply
  6. hugo

    not a well maintained trail lots of trash and broken asphalte makes for a rough ride on the hands. I rode it today and saw 2 bikers with flats, and an obstacle (piece of wood sticking out of the ground) caused me to damage my wheels. The trail is scenic but not really worth it.

    Reply
    • Garth

      hugo, the bad section is the 3/4 mile between the 405 & 22 freeways. Most of the 37-mile length has been repaved (not just slurry-sealed) in recent years, but this one section in Seal Beach still remains neglected. I’ve put tens of thousands of miles on the trail in the last 30+ years, and that part has not changed much.

      Reply
      • Timmy22

        The Cities of Seal Beach and Long Beach are teaming up to fix this section soon. In fact, the entire stretch from the beach to Wardlow Road will be reconstructed. Last I heard from Seal Beach, was that the contract was awarded and construction was expected to begin sometime in the winter, possibly January. So expect some temporary closures and detours.

        Reply
  7. dan

    And the non cyclist are making it almost impssibe to ride.

    Reply
    • Jana G

      What is a non cyclist? Do people run on the trail?

      Reply
    • Garth

      I rode it 37 miles round-trip on Friday and averaged over 20mph although I’m definitely not in my best shape at the moment. Just call ahead “Passing!” and the non-cyclists move over. I used to commute 50 miles a day, 2/3 of it being on this trail.

      Reply
  8. DoomsDave

    Is the trail open all the time or closed from dusk to dawn?

    Reply
    • Garth

      DoomsDave, it’s open all the time. I have ridden it at night many times (with lights of course). The parks along it are generally closed at night.

      Reply
  9. Dan Hazard

    rode san gabreil from the ocean up to MM 15. Happy to see that all the suicide tunnels straightened except for 183rd. lets start a call in campaign to LA department of public works to get 183rd fixed! Regarding walkers who hog the path, I use “passsssing on your left/right” as an oncoming warning, much better than the bell ringers in Europe 🙂

    Reply
    • Timmy22

      The 183rd tunnel is scheduled to be repaired in Jan 2012. Thanks, LACDPW!

      Reply
  10. Toni

    Our first time on this part of the bike trail!
    I couldn’t find a place to stop and grab a drink with my son to celebrate, but eventually we found our way over to the marina just west of the end of the trail, and found a new place, “Royal Cup Coffee Shop”. They have only been open for a few weeks.
    They have all kinds of coffee drinks and smoothies (amazing banana smoothie) but they also serve panini and bagels. Plus it is a wine bar too, but it was a little too early in the morning for me.
    I will use this place as a destination on our next bike ride.

    Reply
    • Timmy22

      Next time go east on Marina Drive to Main Street in Seal Beach. Turn right on main toward ocean. Recommend Crema Cafe on Main, or Bogart’s across from the pier.

      Reply
  11. Katrinna

    We just moved to Rossmoor and want to try out this path. Is there a way in without having to travel down Katella past the 605 entrance?

    Reply
    • Timmy22

      From Katella, go north on Oak Street (at police station). Just past Oak Elementary School on the left is a path to the Coyote Creek trail. Go south to catch the SGRT.

      Reply
  12. Chris

    I just completed this yesterday, Sunday. Very nice to ride from the mountains to the ocean! Plus most of the steps this way are downhill! Sure you must climb to the top of the Santa Fe Dam and another short one. But most other climbs are due to underpasses which you get a downhill boost head of the brief climb. I notice the middle section is being repaved and signs warn of a detour. There were parts in the last ten miles where they did not perform proper compaction before asphalt and the cracks and deformation make for a somewhat uncomfortable ride. This section will hopefully be replaced next. I really appreciated the distance markings on the upper and middle sections. The ones that do occasionally appear on the lower section are not accurate. The path is very clear except for two points: 1) just north of the Whittier Dam Narrows, The trail turns west and then you come to an unmarked cross road. To stay on the trail turn south. 2) San Gabriel River Pkwy you need to get from the west side of the river to the east side. I ended up following a group of cyclist that went the wrong way on the bike lane (i.e. against traffic) to simply cross the bridge, about 200 ft(?) to connect back with the trail. Overall it was my first mostly flat ride in SoCal. Very nice, lots of ducks, snow geese, a few prairie dogs, and finally the Ocean. Sweet! Mountains to Ocean! 38 miles not a bad way to spend the afternoon. I ran into a headwind for the last 10 miles and started to run out of energy (poor planning). I finished in just over 3 hours.

    Reply
  13. chromolyp

    On my return trip heading south through Azusa on the San Gabriel river trail, out of nowhere I was overtaken by a group of moto-mini-bikes full throttle. One even attempted to pass on the right. It’s unfortunate that even with the signage prohibiting the use of motor vehicles on the path, its pretty much an unenforceable. I’m sure the SGPD have more important things to worry about.

    Reply
  14. ScottG

    Looks like they are getting ready to repave the path from the beach (Rivers End Restraunt) up to Wardlow. They have been surveying and marking areas for the work. There are signs indicating the work will be done and complete by the end of April 2012. The parking area and adjacent beach area at the beach end has been renovated and is almost complete. Looks very nice.

    Reply
  15. toplesscj

    How safe is this path to commute at night around 8pm? Heading north to the Mid San Gabriel??

    Reply
  16. StevenSki

    Today I rode the path from the Del Amo underpass to Seal Beach Pier. The path is in good shape until you cross Katella Blvd., then it gets chunky for about a half mile. Following that, you have a great path all the way to the Beach.

    Does anybody know a good route to get to San Pedro? Can you cross the bridges?

    Reply
  17. ScoobyC5

    Where is a good place to park my vehicle in order to bike the Lower San Gabriel river trail? An area close to Harbor City. Is there a place to view the Lower San Gabriel trail and the areas where you can start riding?

    Reply
  18. Steve

    The new paving on the bikeway is AWESOME!!! Coyote Creek bikeway is in dire need of new paving…

    Reply
  19. M. H. Pathfinder

    The lower San Gabriel River Trail and and a good portion of the Coyote Creek Trail have been repaved and new lanes painted, making for a clean, joyous and comfortable ride. I make a wide loop on my routine 30-mile ride I make three times per week. It begins from my home in Cypress, to the Beverly Manor access road alongside the 405 FWY, to the Coyote Creek Trail. I take this trail south to the Rivers End Cafe with a newly refurbished parking area and wind-surfers park, where the creek meets the Pacific Ocean at Seal Beach. I then turn around and head north up the Creek Trail to the San Gabriel River bridge and take the lower San Gabriel River trail alongside El Dorado Park, through Long Beach, Lakewood and to Cerritos, where I exit at Liberty Park at 195th St. 195th St east takes me a couple of miles to Bloomfield Park, where I get back onto the Coyote Creek Trail heading south, and exit at Cerritos Avenue in Los Alamitos, and head home to Cypress. It’s a very comfortable, and very flat 30-mile ride, with little-to-no automobile traffic. Thanks to the cities and counties who invested in a much-needed refurbishing of the San Gabriel River and Coyote Creek bicycle paths, and the parking and wind surfers area at the Rivers End Cafe in Seal Beach. It’s now one of the very best places to ride in southern California.

    Reply
  20. Mac

    I rode the SGRT from about the 14 mile mark at Firestone Blvd. (just south of 5/605 interchange there is a Target with lots of parking) to the beach and back on 5/12/12.

    The path is in excellent shape. An easy ride for just about anybody (but the lack of guard rails and stepp drop-offs might be an issue for unsteady riders/children.) Winds were steady and we hit them both ways (afternoon start) so those can be a challenge, but the ride was still relatively easy and there are plenty of parks to stop at along the way if you’re looking to slow your pace down or break up your ride.

    It’s really an amazing trail. I would recommend it to anyone who can manage flat ground on a bike.

    As far as safety, I would have no concerns during the day. At night, some spots are fairly isolated so if you’re by yourself you’d be a pretty easy target if some knucklehead wanted to steal your bike- I wouldn’t recommend doing that for most. But if you’re with somebody- or you’re just hurrying home at sunset- you should be just fine. The surrounding neighborhoods aren’t “bad” by any reasonable definition. With the type of basic awareness you should have in any “urban” environment, the trail should be perfectly safe.

    Reply
  21. Niq

    I am new to bike riding so I didn’t want to overdo it and I had my 10 yo with me so we started the path in Bellflower on Artesia Blvd and rode it until getting off at South St.

    It was about 530 so it was starting to cool off but there weren’t that many people out there so it was perfect timing. It was clean and safe and my daughter got a kick out of seeing all the horses!

    One day I would like to work up to riding the whole trail but for now I will be pleased with my 2 miles! lol

    Reply
  22. Krieg

    We ride the path all the way from Seal Beach to the mountains, currently it has some construction around Lakewood, and a few mile further north around Cerritos they are repairing an underpass. When this is finished in the next few weeks it will again be possible to ride from the beach to the mountains, 39 miles. We use it on a regular basis, best in the morning until mid afternoon, the crazy’s start to show up in the late afternoon avoid from dusk through the evening.

    Reply
  23. Jonathan

    I just wanted to remind people to check out the green sea turtles at the warm water turbine outlets of D.W.P.’s power plant. I love checking these magnificent creatures out!

    Reply
  24. Liz

    We’ve ridden this trail a couple of times now, entering around Del Amo Blvd. We’ve tried entering through Rynerson Park, going south, on the east side of the river, and the trail was closed. There was a sign saying that repairs would be done in Dec ’12. Obviously, that hasn’t happened. So we went north instead and couldn’t get past 183rd St. because it was also closed. So the next time we went out we took the west side of the river and could not get farther south than Carson St. We’re new to biking and have read a lot about how the lower part of the trail is really nice, but we can’t seem to get very far. Does anyone have any suggestions for detours?

    Reply
    • Liz

      Update – the east side of the river trail has been repaved and now it goes under Carson St. We have been able to ride all the way down to the beach and it’s been a nice ride!

      Reply
  25. Jeff

    The river is FILTHY and FULL OF TRASH which all flows out to OUR BEACHES!!! PLEASE DON’T LITTER and PLEASE let’s do something to CLEAN THE RIVER!!!

    Reply
  26. Jaime

    Rode this trail on Saturday, it looks like they have really cleaned-up the trail. We traveled at 16 MPH and called out ahead of time for joggers, other cyclists and walkers, all of which complied with our call. It was a great day enjoying the LA vistas. Happy and Safe Riding!

    Reply

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