Route: San Gabriel River Trail (CA)

California, US
35.4 mi

"This multi-use trail runs north-south, stretching from Azusa to Seal Beach. Though the trail travels through an urban environment, adjacent parks and natural features help diversify the landscape. The San Gabriel Mountains in the distance provide a scenic background for the northern portion of the trail, whereas the ocean serves as a destination point to the south. The trail is a popular bicycle route."

The trail is 35+ miles.  Since the northern terminus is about 670 feet higher than the southern, it's likely a southbound run will be fastest.  A detailed "Quick Guide & Map" is here:

GPS Track


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Profile picture for user Christophe Stahl

Thank you adding the route. It looks pretty interesting to me.

I just wanted to add a link to the map I created on where you can download the GPX file. Looking at the link with the PDF file, I made it start on the east side of the river though. I checked the satellite and street view picture, showing the exact start of the bike path. It is also confirmed by the website. The PDF is dated from June 2015, so maybe there was an extension made to the bike path later. This way it looks more "complete". Also is showing 38 miles.

Just for peace of mind, I would park my car for the day on the south end, at 95 1st St, Seal Beach, CA 90740, it looks safer than the dirt spot on the north end.

Looks like a nice project, one way, or even out and back!

hey christophe, thx for all of the info here, and the alltrails. but can u see my question below? seems the routes are a shade different there around the Sante Fe Rez. i just want to make sure the effort isn't dismissed bc of a wrong turn. best!

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Profile picture for user gordonclark

Yo and hello! New to this. Me and a small team are going after this tomorrow morning. 

But looking at route details: Alltrails route is different than the route here above. The original has you exiting the bike path for a dirt trail then re-entering a tad later. But alltrails has you going further east all together (not sure if bike route was then connected and then/now different). 

Can someone confirm? Hate to try and hammer this thing only to find out I missed the route by a hair. Thx and onward/upward!

Looks like you're right: the actual map itself lists that part of the trail as being on that western side, whereas the AllTrails mapping data lists it on the eastern path (as in: the actual dashed lines on the map itself, even when you aren't viewing a specific route). My take would be to spend the extra minute in the moment making what you feel is the most faithful decision possible to what feels like the San Gabriel River Trail based on signage and continuity. If it's a 50/50 coin flip, I vote to go with the western way straight through to stick with the more official .gov map listed and original gpx submitted for the route here, but I say arrive prepared to go with the eastern route if it genuinely feels more appropriate to the spirit in the moment. Just one LA guy's opinion, but that's how I would approach it myself! I can't imagine anyone would be a stickler with no existing attempt to have set a firm precedent, so you can be that person to let us know!

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Profile picture for user Alexander Koops

I just noticed this thread--I ride this trail all the time and have for many years--the map posted here on the fkt site is wrong sorry to say--where the trail goes by santa fe dam is should follow the trail around the east side of santa fe dam... the east side is the standard route!

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Profile picture for user Alexander Koops

I just looked at the files for Gordon Clark and Matt Siegfried... sadly neither of them took the traditional standard route at the beginning. These are not locals to this trail and their route does not really make sense --I don't know if Buzz Burell or the fkt rep for SoCal can do anything about this, but it is sad that a "standard" route from the locals is not used or promoted--this makes any other people trying to do this go on rabbit chase at the beginning that no one should have to go through. the actual trail that starts at the bottom of azusa canyon is fantastic --way better then the crazy route posted here which goes on the west side shenanigans... The time of Gordon Clark is absolutely stellar, and if he had gone on the standard route it would have had a faster start...

I suggest the current version is listed as "alternate" or variant.. .and some one needs to establish the actual real standard route fkt that follows the actual san gabriel trail...

maybe I'll give it an attempt in the spring on the "real" route since it is my home turf...

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Profile picture for user Alexander Koops

for any one doing this in the future. please take the standard route which follows the east side of santa fe dam.

also, should be fine parking in azusa and running to seal beach..that would be my plan...

wind will be coming out of azusa canyon in the morning--start early with the wind at your back and run downhill...

parking at 100 N Old San Gabriel Canyon Rd, Azusa, CA 91702 -- Azusa Wilderness Park

OR at  Azusa Trail Rest Area 8500-8524 San Gabriel Canyon Rd, Azusa, CA 91702

this should be the actual start:'43.6%22N+117%C2%B053'51.4%22W/@34.1621091,-117.8981702,215m/data=!3m2!1e3!4b1!4m6!3m5!1s0x0:0x67753611e4c11195!7e2!8m2!3d34.1621083!4d-117.8976235

check out google maps earth view and you can see the trail clearly...

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Profile picture for user Alexander Koops

The detailed "Quick Guide & Map" here follows the "non-standard" route, so I can see now why this would be why the fkt is using the route --follow the la county guide. in conclusion. the LA county guide takes you on a bit of dirt and less used portion for the first part of this fkt---that is totally cool--I can see that it works--but the other version on the east side is all paved and smooth--so that is cool too--something for everyone....

I think it would make sense to have one of these two possibilities listed as a variant and allow people to explore both---if you want some dirt take the LA county guide... if you want a smooth fast "road marathon style" effort, take the standard san gabriel valley bike path.

Hey man, glad to see the comments!

It is definitely a confusing route in terms of conflicting information online. Ultimately when in doubt, I think it's fair to say the in-person signs should be followed as closely as reasonably possible, unless it isn't possible to do so. It's tough to find a more "official" marker than a literal physical marker saying "this is the trail here" with an arrow pointing forward on the unpaved hiking trail, haha, so that was my guide personally. I can't speak for Gordon's experience

As far as not being local to the trail, you're totally right in the sense that literally -100%- of all hundreds of people spotted through the 35.5 miles of official trail were seen ON the bike path itself, from where I was on the trail section. It is actually a sick kind of torture watching people speed by on the nice paved section while I was sliding around in some of those sandy dirt piles, getting loose gravel in my shoes, hah! If you propose a pure 100% paved FKT category, that would certainly be a much more fun time out there for folks.  

It's extra confusing because of the similarly named "San Gabriel River Trail" vs. "San Gabriel River Bike Trail" which are 1. sometimes very clearly separate things, with the official SBRT actually branching out 1000+ ft away from the bike path and eventually merging back in 2. sometimes just barely separate things, with the SBRT essentially just being an unpaved shoulder to the SBRBT, and of course 3. actually becoming the exact same thing during the final miles, when signs move from a distinct hiking trail to on the actual paved path itself. 

If you check my route, that is as closely as I could follow the proper hiking trail along the official marked signage, only entering the bike path when it was officially designated as the way forward or using its shoulder during brief impassable sections from a physical barricade (thus becoming the de facto SGRT, just on the wrong side of the fence). I will totally admit I have no idea of the history of the trail before the day I first stepped onto it, but as far as "west side shenanigans" you mention, that IS the actual officially designated trail, as of the date posted! Go that way following the trail and you'll see all the official markers designating it. If you're saying that all the locals look over at the trail and say "Nahhh we'll stick with the fast way" I can totally buy that as standard protocol, as that completely matches up with what I observed. However, if we are purely talking what's "real" or "not real", I would hesitate to follow anything else as more official than the ridiculously detailed markings of GPS coordinates posted under the trail name and logo with mileage markers all along the trail side of the trail (and not the bike path - until it then joins with the bike path, haha)

Sorry to ramble a bit, but I just wanted to make sure I expressed my experience properly for all others who may come months/years later to see what the situation is with this route before they take a stab at it. I definitely encourage everyone to get out there and smash these current times hard! Maybe one of you lunatics can even propose an out & back to get all the sweet uphill vert that we miss toward the beach :)

Matt, thanks for the explanations--that all makes good sense and I 100% support you on your decisions. I encourage everyone to see the options and decide for themselves which route they want to do and remember to not "just do it for the FKT" but also choose a style and route that they will enjoy. I would encourage the FKT gurus who are in charge to consider multiple variants on this route to accommodate those who want to do "road run" variations following the trail from the east side of the river from the mouth of azusa canyon and going on the east side of santa fe dam. All the best to all of you attempting this!