Los Angeles is a stunning landscape where you can cruise from coast to snow capped mountain and back to the desert in less than a day – if you really wanted to. But did you know you don’t have to leave the city of Los Angeles to get a hearty dose of nature into your system? Between Exposition Park, the Getty + Getty Villa, Huntington, Arlington and Descanso Gardens there are rolling acres of unique plants, flowers and trees in echo of habitats around the globe, and the multitudes of parks spread around the city like wildflowers preserve the natural landscape of Los Angeles. Griffith Park is the second largest urban green space in California and the eleventh largest in the United States. And then there’s the LA River.
Back in the day, long before I moved to Southern California – my parents told me an old adage about Los Angeles: LA, it’s where the rivers are paved and the streets aren’t. Now, as a kid this statement made me laugh but for different reasons than it does now, because until I heard that ludicrous statement, it never once occurred to me that Los Angeles had a river that ran through it all. Now, after almost a decade of living here, I can fully attest to the veracity of both sides of this absurd but accurate statement.
Sprawling over 50 miles through the heart of Los Angeles, the LA River begins up in the Santa Susana Mountain Range, which stretches between the San Fernando and Simi Valleys. and flows into Long Beach. Over the last two decades, and in conjunction with the Friends of the LA River, the city has decided to revitalize about 30 miles of the river and both bring back the ecology of the area and promote its biodiversity. With multiple stops for river trail access, local recreation areas and riverfront parks, delicious restaurants as well as nearby metro stations – you could easily make a whole day out of gallivanting down the banks of the river while exploring true hidden gems of the city.
So far, I’ve only gallivanted along the paths in North East LA, but so far – so beautiful. There are several different bike paths that take you along the river in Frogtown, and if you bring good enough shoes you can even make it down to the banks and enjoy a little picnic in the middle of the city, relaxing as the river ripples along – bubbling up to say a little hello; just do yourself a favor and pack some sunscreen because bugs. There were several lush parks to take a pack lunch to, and with amazing sandwich shops like Wax Paper along the route how could you not? I highly recommend the Steve Julian. Now, I personally don’t know how to ride a bike – but the bike path by the LA River makes me damn well wish I did – plus, now that I know the Spoke Bike Cafe is just a hop, skip and a jump down the trail, I just might finally learn…one day ;).
For more about the LA River Trail and all the amenities on the way, head to their website or social media pages: