The 10 Best Bike Rides In Los Angeles
MARVIN BRAUDE BIKE TRAIL
One of L.A.’s most beloved features, its iconic shoreline, is graced with its very own paved bike path—the Marvin Braude Bike Trail, aka The Strand. With a northern tip touching Will Rogers State Beach in Pacific Palisades and a southern bottom brushing Torrance County Beach, the 22-mile stretch provides an easy cruise for bicyclists hoping to experience many of L.A.’s beloved beach towns, including Santa Monica, Venice, Marina del Rey, Manhattan, Hermosa and Redondo. Countless spots offer eats and drinks along the way, and when in Venice, we suggest Venice Ale House, located at the Venice Boardwalk and Rose Avenue. Gary Kavanagh of Gary Rides Bikes brings up another pro to this path: “Going pier hopping from the Santa Monica Pier to the Redondo Beach pier has always been a personal favorite since becoming a local to the Westside.” The bikeway tends to attract crowds, so bikers beware, it can become a bit of an obstacle course in some spots (we’ve spotted a Segway or several rolling along the route). Regardless, it serves as an excellent, easy, flat ride along the shimmering Pacific.
BALLONA CREEK BIKE PATH
Connecting Culver City to the coast, the Ballona Creek bicycle path follows the waterway for about seven miles from the above Marvin Braude Bike Trail in Playa del Rey to Syd Kronenthal Park in east Culver. Offering picturesque views of the Ballona Wetlands, the Baldwin Hills and the Santa Monica Mountains (on a good day), the paved path receives nods from many LAist readers as well as Gary Kavanagh of Gary Rides Bikes, who notes, “The Ballona Creek path is a great way between the coast and Culver City, and with the Expo Line phase 1 completed, has become a valuable and separated from traffic bike connection with the Metro Rail system.”
GLENDALE NARROWS / ELYSIAN VALLEY BIKE PATH
Biking along the Los Angeles River is a favorite choice of LAist readers, as well as Ted Rogers of BikingInLA and Carol Feucht of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. And this 7.4-mile stretch beginning in Atwater Village and heading up through the Glendale Narrows provides one of the greenest routes, with views of birds and the San Gabriel Mountains. There are also several parks along the route, including Griffith Park, Oso Park and Rattlesnake Park. Feucht says of the Narrows:
What makes the Glendale Narrows so great is that it is one of the few sections of the L.A. River that has a dirt bottom. Plants and birds (and trash) thrive here, and you can also see some strange sights on occasion, like people biking “on” the river (They’re like Jesus on a bike!), people fishing, teenagers making out, artists painting, and, as you know, that giant rubber ducky. There are also pocket parks and exercise machines for folks to take a break from their rides or walks.
Riders should note that some cyclists complain of air pollution along the bikeway thanks to its proximity to the 5 Freeway. The age-old clash between cyclists and pedestrians has existed along this route as well, but as Rogers says, “A little courtesy on both sides goes a long way.”
GRIFFITH PARK BIKE LOOP
As L.A.’s largest park, Griffith Park brings more than just The Autry, Greek Theater, L.A. Zoo, Travel Town, Griffith Observatory and Griffith Merry-Go-Round to Angelenos, it’s also blessed with a scenic, tree-lined, nine-mile bike loop. And it incorporates the L.A. River Bike Path, too! Cyclists can either start from the northern tip by taking Zoo Drive at Riverside Drive or advance from the south by taking Crystal Springs Drive at Los Feliz Boulevard. The two routes join inside the park, forming the loop. Rental bikes are available inside the park if you’re without your own set of wheels.
METRO ORANGE LINE BIKE PATH
A few LAist readers gave the bikeway along the Metro Orange Line shout-outs, and we can’t forget about our northern neighbors. The bikeway and pedestrian path parallels the four-mile Metro Orange Line Extension from the Canoga Station across the San Fernando Valley up to Chatsworth. It also links up with the Sepulveda Dam Bike Path.
LONG BEACH BIKE PATH
Anyone who’s lived or played in Long Beach has likely pedaled along its placid shoreline, taking in views of affordable beachfront housing and the majestic Queen Mary. Beginning at Shoreline Village, the 17-foot-wide concrete trail bids adieu to the lighthouse and cuts through the sand for about 3.1 miles to Alamitos Bay. Belmont Brewing Company, perched above the path at the start of the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier, serves as the perfect spot to stop and refuel, with beachfront seating to boot.
SANTA CLARITA CLOVERLEAF
This route, as cleverly named by Jon Riddle and Sarah Amelar, authors of Where to Bike Los Angeles, forms the shape of an abstract four-leaf clover in Santa Clarita. The finishing touches were recently added to the route, which consists of 100 percent paved bike paths. With only one or two street crossings, the tree-lined journey hugs the Santa Clara River, running alongside and over the river and its tributaries. Bicyclists can hop onto the path from multiple locations, and nearly a dozen parks can be accessed along the route.
A vintage route with much history, The Donut in Palos Verdes goes back at least 50 years to a time when the loop began at, you guessed it, a donut shop. Jon Riddle and Sarah Amelar, authors of Where to Bike Los Angeles, laud the path as “probably our favorite ride,” noting that it’s not for the average bicyclist. The 28-mile circuit of rolling hills proves strenuous, following Palos Verdes Drive along the Palos Verdes Peninsula from the south to the east and looping back around. Cyclists training for races know this route well, and most of the trip consists of bike lanes. One of the more scenic biking experiences, cyclists, while keeping their eyes on the path, of course, will take in views of the glistening Pacific, Catalina Island, Point Vicente Lighthouse, Point Fermin Lighthouse, Fort MacArthur, architecture and plenty of open spaces.
SUNSET TO THE SEA
Another recommendation from Ted Rogers of BikingInLA, this route is not one you’ll find listed on Yelp, Wikipedia or other local cycling blogs. It’s Rogers’ “all-time favorite ride,” and he was kind enough to share it with us:
Depending on where you start, you can experience virtually all of Los Angeles on a single street, from Chinatown through Elysian Park and Hollywood, along the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, and past the mansions of Beverly Hills and UCLA. West of the 405, it turns into an exhilarating mix of hills and curves leading up to Pacific Palisades, followed by a high-speed descent down to the coast. From there, you can head up PCH through Malibu, or down the coast bike path to Santa Monica and Venice.
It’s not a ride for the faint-hearted, though. The east end features some of L.A.’s crappiest bike lanes, while riders have to contend with heavy traffic in the Hollywood and WeHo sections, and high-speed traffic through Beverly Hills and Westwood. West of the 405, it takes a confident rider to contend with speeding drivers who tend to pass way too close on the many curves. Best time to ride it is early Sunday morning, when traffic is at its lightest.
FAIRFAX TO DOWNTOWN
Another insidery recommendation comes from Damien Newton of Streetsblog Los Angeles, and it sounds like the perfect mixture of city streets and the ‘burbs.
My favorite bike ride used to be the one from where I lived in Fairfax to Downtown Los Angeles. I’d get on 4th Street right where it started outside Park LaBrea and ride it east until I hit midtown. At some point before MacArthur Park I’d cut south and take 7th into Downtown. It was the best of both worlds, quiet residential L.A. and the bustle and excitement of a major street.