Don’t go dismissing the Los Angeles River as merely a 51-mile concrete channel. It’s a genuine urban artery that links real neighborhoods, and its riverside bike/ped paths endear it to locals and sojourners alike. One of our favorite stretches runs through the Elysian Valley—a 2-mile journey through an area called Frogtown, where you can walk or bike your way through surprising natural beauty.
Park on Ripple Street just off the Fletcher Drive bridge and check out the views before you start. Spread your wings as you pass through the Great Heron Gates into Rattlesnake Park, heading east. On your left are the first signs of Frogtown graffiti, urban artwork inspired by the amphibians who were once common here. Though the water levels are low, trekking along the river is still a beautiful natural experience amid the dense urban landscape. Aquatic birds such as stilts, cormorants, and great blue herons can be seen posing on rocks or hunting in the shallows surrounded by riparian willows.
Meander along the river under the 2 Freeway and take a quick detour at Marsh Park, a pristine public park with workout machines, ample lawn space, a skate park, and even a frog sculpture. Get back on the paved path and continue to Spoke Bicycle Cafe at nearly the 1-mile mark. This multidimensional shop offers bike rentals, coffee, food, and draft beverages including cider and kombucha. Shortly after, you’ll hit quaint Elysian Valley Gateway Park, a good turnaround spot. This is a wonderful walk. Water you waiting for?
BONUS BEVERAGE: Partway through this stroll, you’ll spot the sign for Frogtown Brewery, a perfect pit stop before or after your walk, or both. The homey space showcases local art and, of course, a diverse and delicious rotating tap selection, of which our favorites are the Hazy River (New England IPA) and their session IPA, Feather It In.
To get to the Great Heron Gates and trailhead, take the CA-2 to Fletcher Dr. The gates will be on your right in 0.3 mile, but turn right just after onto Ripple St. and find street parking there. Alternatively, take the I-5 to Fletcher Dr. and exit north. Dog-friendly on the hike and in the brewery!