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Photograph: Courtesy Unsplash/Lukas Geck

The best bike trails in L.A.

Pedal your way along the ocean, through a valley or around the city on one of the best bike trails in Los Angeles

Michael Juliano
Written by
Michael Juliano

You’ve tackled all of the best hikes in L.A. and want to cover more ground on wheels instead—but a scenic drive seems just a tad too lazy. So it’s time to hit the city’s best bike trails. The Los Angeles streetscape is slowly but surely becoming more friendly to cyclists, while the rugged wilderness surrounding the city presents endless mountain biking opportunities. But somewhere in the middle, you’ll find paved paths and designated trails that hug the beach and tour L.A.’s best parks. So get your helmet, pack a few snacks and start pedaling along these routes, the best bike trails in Los Angeles.

Ride along one of these bike trails

Marvin Braude Bike Trail (The Strand)

This beloved 22-mile bicycle path traces nearly the entire extent of L.A.’s westward-facing coastline. The path starts at Will Rogers State Beach, passes droolworthy real estate in Santa Monica, Venice and Manhattan Beach and winds its way all the way down to Torrance County Beach—you probably know its South Bay expanse better as “the Strand.”

Though you’ll have to share parts of the path with pedestrians, the large majority is bikes only. Just a heads up that after you pass Venice, the paved path curves into Washington Boulevard to navigate around Marina del Rey; the rest of the route takes you back on the beach all the way down to the Palos Verdes Peninsula.

Check out the full route here.

Ballona Creek Bike Path

This seven-mile path along Ballona Creek starts only blocks away from the Culver City E Line (Expo) stop and extends all the way to the Pacific Ocean. Take a leisurely ride down the entire route, or hook up with the trail at one of a dozen gated entrances along the way. Make sure to check the weather in winter months; the at-river-level route can quickly become flooded and is locked up during heavy rains.

The inland end also meets up with a path of sorts along the E Line that runs between Santa Monica and USC. You’ll largely have to share the road with car traffic and stick to lanes along the edges of the road, though there is a brief section west of Ballona Creek with its own dedicated pathway. 

Check out the full route here.


L.A. River Bikeway

You’ll find a series of disconnected paved paths—some longer than others—along the 51 miles of the L.A. River. Though paths everywhere from Canoga Park to the Port of L.A. are perfectly pleasant, you’ll find the most bike-centric activity along the Glendale Narrows/Elysian Valley Bicycle Path, which cuts through the increasingly cafe and restaurant-filled Frogtown.

This particular section runs uninterrupted from underneath Riverside Drive, just north of Zoo Drive in the northeast corner of Griffith Park, down to Elysian Valley’s Egret Park, just above where the 5 crosses the river; look out for a few other notable entry points in between, like in Atwater Village at both Los Feliz and Glendale Boulevards, as well as all throughout Frogtown.

Check out the full route here.

Chandler Bikeway

Typically tearing up railroad tracks is a sign of the continued dominance of the car, but the Chandler Bikeway was a welcome exception to the rule. These couple of miles of Chandler Boulevard in Burbank, stretching from Mariposa Street to the North Hollywood Metro stop, were first converted into a paved bikeway and sidewalk in 2004. The odd sculpture or piece of street art perk up the surroundings, as does some of the landscaping and views of the Verdugo Mountains.


Arroyo Seco Bike Path

Of all the paved bike paths along concrete river channels—we’re picking up on a pattern here—this one may have some of the most varied vistas. You’ll find a parking lot and the southern entrance along Mosher Avenue, just above Avenue 43; follow the path north and you’ll hug the hillsides of Ernest E. Debs Regional Park, with the grand San Gabriel Mountains visible in the distance.

The dedicated path ends right near where York Boulevard turns into Pasadena Avenue, but if you’re okay with pedaling along some residential streets, you can make your way all the way up to the Rose Bowl, where you’ll find a loop of protected lanes.

Most of the path runs practically level with the usually-just-a-trickle flood control channel, so expect to see access limited when rain is in the forecast.


Griffith Park Loops

It’s easy to forget you’re still in Los Angeles as you trek through the mix of native chaparral and landscaped paths that cover Griffith Park. Where else could you encounter canyons, caves and coyotes in the middle of a city? By far the most efficient way to cover the park’s 4,310 wild acres is by bike. You can stick to the perimeter and the L.A. River Bike Path for a flat ride, take a detour onto Crystal Springs Drive for a bit of an elevation change or really test your stamina with a grueling climb up Mt. Hollywood Drive.

Check out a full map of Griffith Park here (PDF).

Rather kayak the L.A. River instead of biking it?

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