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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

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

By Michael Juliano
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When you’ve exhausted the best hikes in L.A. but a scenic drive seems too lazy, 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, Los Angeles, California
Photograph: Shutterstock

Marvin Braude Bike Trail

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.

Ballona Creek Bike Path
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Steve Boland

Ballona Creek Bike Path

This seven-mile path along Ballona Creek starts only blocks away from the Culver City Expo Line 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 route can quickly become flooded and is locked up during heavy rains.

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Spoke Bicycle Café
Photograph: Rozette Rago

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. It runs from Victory Boulevard and Riverside Drive to Elysian Valley’s Egret Park, with various notably entry points like Lewis MacAdams Riverfront Park and Rattlesnake Park.

Chandler Bikeway
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Wikimedia/Junkyardsparkle

Chandler Bikeway

Typically tearing up railroad tracks is a sign of the continued dominance of the car, but the Chandler Bikeway as 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, but the real draw is the path’s view of the Verdugo Mountains.

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Shoreline Pedestrian Bike Path
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Ray_LAC

Shoreline Pedestrian Bike Path

This paved path starts at Long Beach’s Shoreline Village and cuts through the city’s stretch of sandy beachfront, past the Long Beach Museum of Art, Belmont Brewing and Rosie’s Dog Beach. The dedicated path eventually ends near Bay Shore Avenue, but follow that street north and you’ll find yourself at the entrance to the scenic Naples canals.

Arroyo Seco Bike Path
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Wikimedia/Cromagnom

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 entrance along Mosher Avenue; 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 at Marmion Way, 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.

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Griffith Park
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

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.

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

LA River
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Everything you need to know about public access to the L.A. River

Things to do

Summer in Los Angeles isn’t complete without a trip to the Pacific, a drink on a rooftop bar and… kayaking the L.A. River? It may not be as pristine as the best beach in L.A., but the river is increasingly becoming a worthwhile outdoor destination. Before you head out on the L.A. River, though, here are a few important things you need to know.

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