Features: The West Fork National Scenic Bikeway offers a unique bicycling and walking experience in the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument in southern California. It follows a paved utility access road from the trailhead on Highway 39 to a point downstream of Cogswell Dam. The entire trail parallels more than eight miles of the lower West Fork San Gabriel River.
The paved road the Bikeway follows is gated and automobile use is limited to utility and Forest Service staff, and handicapped visitors and volunteer stewards who have permits to drive the road. The Bikeway is a favorite destination for families who wade and picnic along the banks of the West Fork, anglers who stalk the stream’s wild trout, and bicyclists who enjoy a rare, relatively flat, and paved bike route in the National Forest backcountry.
The first few miles of the Bikeway are heavily used by the public, particularly on summer weekends. But the further up the paved trail you go, the more likely that you will be enjoying this beautiful streamside trail in relative solitude. There are three handicapped-accessible fishing points along the Bikeway and the Glenn Campground (located about seven miles upstream of the trailhead) provides camping for the handicapped, as well as hikers and bicyclists seeking an overnight experience. During the rainy season, the West Fork’s small tributary streams tumble over beautiful waterfalls along the edge of the Bikeway. Recreational access and use of the Bikeway is available nearly year-round.
The primary feature of the Bikeway is the beautiful West Fork San Gabriel River and the rugged canyon it has carved through the San Gabriel Mountains. The Forest Service determined the West Fork upstream and downstream of Cogswell Dam and Reservoir to be eligible for National Wild & Scenic River protection. In addition to its outstanding and unique recreational opportunities and incredible scenery, the West Fork provides habitat for rare native fishes, including the endangered Santa Ana sucker and is one of the few catch and release Wild Trout Streams available to the millions of people who live in the Los Angeles metropolitan area.
The north slope of the West Fork Canyon is already protected as part of the existing San Gabriel Wilderness. CalWild and its allies have proposed adding much of the south slope of the canyon to the Wilderness as well. The West Fork Canyon and the Bikeway were part of the establishment of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument by President Obama in 2014.
Directions: From Interstate 210 in the City of Azusa, take the Highway 39/Azusa Avenue exit and head north. Beyond downtown Azusa, Highway 39 passes the Forest Service’s San Gabriel Entrance Station and enters the National Monument. Continue on Highway 39 (a.k.a. San Gabriel Canyon Road) past San Gabriel and Morris Reservoirs. About 7 miles from I-210, continue past a right turn that leads over a bridge to the East Fork Road. Continue straight on Highway 39 another 1.5 miles, past the OHV area, to where the road crosses the West Fork. There are parking areas just before and just beyond the bridge. The West Fork National Bikeway Trailhead starts on the south side of the bridge and heads up the West Fork. You will need to purchase a $5 Adventure Pass to park at the gated West Fork Trailhead. You can purchase it at the San Gabriel Entrance Station, which is located on your right just as you leave the City of Azusa and enter the Monument.
Caution: Weather and road conditions can change in an instant. Always check with the managing agency before embarking on a trip. Always hike with a friend and carry a cell phone for emergencies. Bring plenty of drinking water, food, and clothing for changing weather conditions. Let someone know where you are going and when you intend to be back. Remember, California’s wild places are beautiful but they can also be dangerous to the unprepared and unwary. The California Wilderness Coalition assumes no liability if you intend to visit any of the wild places featured in our materials.