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.

Nearest current weather: (Click for Forecast)
Click for Whittier, Pico Rivera, etc. Forecast

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.
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.

Water's End

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


  1. Linda

    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.


    • Robert Kugler


      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

  2. Mark

    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.


  3. Chuy Rodriguez

    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.

    • Vicky

      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?

  4. Dante Esquivel

    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.

  5. Vicky

    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?

    • Manny

      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.

  6. Clay

    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.

    • Adam

      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.

    • hardcorebiker

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

  7. Matt

    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!

  8. Chony

    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.

  9. lincomatic

    August 2014: I rode the entire Rio Hondo trail from end to end, and it was in excellent condition for the entire length. I accessed the Upper Rio Hondo trail from Live Oak Avenue in Arcadia. A short path there, called Santa Anita Wash, takes you to the start of the Upper Rio Hondo trail at Peck Park. Enter though the gates marked Emerald Necklace.

    The Upper Rio Hondo ends at San Gabriel Blvd, near Bosque del Rio Hondo. To get to the Lower Rio Hondo Trail, you have to turn right onto San Gabriel Blvd towards Lincoln Ave. Turn left on Lincoln Ave, and the entrance to the Lower Rio Hondo is immediately to the left. The lower section is pretty desolate, but clean all the way to the end, where it merges into the Los Angeles River Trail.

    Another option is to follow the Emerald Necklace.. instead of turning right on San Gabriel, head left towards Rosemead Blvd. Cross the intersection diagonally, and continue on the bike path on the opposite side of San Gabriel Blvd (called Durfee Ave on this end) to head to the San Gabriel River Trail going North.

    I have lots of geotagged photos with descriptions.

    Upper Rio Hondo is in my Emerald Necklace album:
    Lower Rio Hondo all the way to Long Beach is in my LARIO album:

    I have extensive geotagged photos with descriptions.
    Upper Rio Hondo is mostly in my Emerald Necklace

    • Scott

      Nice – thanks for sharing, @lincomatic

  10. Sofia

    A couple of days ago, I over heard that their is a Petting Zoo going north down the river…, I have tried to check the route, and have not been succesful… I just wanted to know if this is correct and if so is there an exit that I can take to get there?

  11. Rahman Ingram

    This site sucks. What’s the point of having this site kd there aren’t any intersections given or addresses to start from.

    • Scott

      Yeah, well, I live in Oregon now, and can barely maintain the site anymore… Are you volunteering to help?

      • Bo

        Hey Scott, I would be interested in helping keeping the information current. this is a good resource, but I can see its showing a bit of age in that things like the LA river bike trail is not onboard yet.

        • Scott

          Wow, cool, thank you – I’m sorry for the relay and I’ll reach out to you via email, ASAP!

  12. Tony

    does any one knows if the rio Hondo bike trail is open after the brush fire at the Whittier narrows last week?

    • R. Russell

      Yes, the trail is open through the fire damage. Sad to see, but I hope it grows back after the rain.

  13. Bob

    As of 16-Apr-2016, just before user comments start there is this undated statement:

    “Viewer’s Comment … 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 … — Mark”

    Is Rio Hondo access from Valley Blvd still locked off? Google street view seems to show a paved access path to the Rio Honda at that intersection. Thanks for the help. I am hoping to take Metrolink to El Monte to start a ride to Seal Beach.

    • Bob

      If access from Valley View Blvd is still locked off, can I count on access from Santa Anita Ave, next to a fire station, being open? That may even be a better access point for my group. Thanks again.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.