Riding bikes safely around these parts can be challenging thanks to the crazy traffic, potholes and dense population big-city neighborhoods like ours tend to offer. The good news is there are plenty of super fun bike trails in Los Angeles that are both stimulating and safe. So when your trike-loving tots need more than sidewalks and driveways to feel free-wheeling, check out one of these paths perfect for lil’ pedal pushers and get moving!
The Marvin Braude Bike Trail (a.k.a. “The Strand”)
When it comes to bike paths in LA, there’s none more famous or picturesque than the one that runs along the West Coast. Stretching 27 miles from Torrance to Will Rogers State Beach, this long and winding road offers a well-maintained expanse of flat surface to ride that is perfect for new bikers. With snack stands and public restrooms along the way, there are plenty of opportunities to take breaks if little legs need a rest. And with the shimmering Pacific by your side, why not give the kiddos a little beach sand playtime before jumping back on the bikes and heading home!
Insider Tip: Skip the heavily congested areas around Venice and the Santa Monica Pier and start your ride either north of the Pier towards Will Rogers or South in Playa del Rey towards Manhattan Beach.
Lake Hollywood Reservoir
Lights, camera, cruise! Tucked into the Hollywood Hills (besides 3 million dollar homes) is the serene Hollywood Reservoir surrounded by a 3.5 mile walking and biking loop. With gorgeous views and a wide-open, flat paved path, this is the perfect place to enjoy a relaxing and easy bike ride. Be sure to take a quick break at the Mulholland Dam as this is the ideal spot to snag a family selfie with the iconic Hollywood sign looming in the background!
Insider Tip: The best place to start your ride is from the North Gate off of Lake Hollywood Drive (where there is also lots of free parking!). Weekends tend to be more crowded with pedestrian traffic, so a weekday ride is a great time for beginner bikers to have the path all to themselves!
Ballona Creek Trail
While the LA River path is popular with lots of riders, it tends to be pretty populated and a bit more challenging for beginner bicyclists. For something similar that’s much more easy-going, head over to the Ballona Creek Trail in Culver City. Running seven miles from the east side of Culver City to Playa del Rey, this mellow-yet-scenic route runs right along the Ballona wetlands and Marina del Rey, which is certain to delight the boat lovers in your family!
Insider Tip: Seven miles can be a bit long so shorten the ride by starting at the Sawtelle Avenue or Centinela entrance (where it’s also easier to find parking!). Cruise to Fisherman’s Village in the Marina, park the bikes and stop for nachos at El Torito to fuel up for the return trip.
For a super simple ride, perfect for beginning bikers, check out the 3/4 mile loop at Lacy Park in San Marino. The refurbished wide, paved path that makes a loop around the center of the park is an ideal place to practice brand new bicycle skills. With soft grass along both sides of the path, there’s always a safe place to stop (or great for cushioning those learning falls). After you ride, you’ll definitely want to take some time to explore the rose garden and the playground. If you’re not a San Marino resident, entrance to the park is $5 on weekends. Kids 4 and under are free.
Insider Tip: Bikes are not permitted on the outer loop (walking path) of Lacy Park and even bikes on the inner loop are not permitted to zoom around at top speeds. That’s why this park is ideal for training wheel warriors!
Griffith Park Bike Loop
Most people know all about the wonders LA’s largest park has to offer such as the L.A. Zoo, The Autry Museum, Griffith Observatory and so much more. What might not be as well known, however, is the tree-dappled scenic 9-mile bike loop that truly puts the “friendly” in “family-friendly riding.” Start your cycling adventure at the park’s ranger station and stay on the paved path making sure to take frequent breaks at the occasional playground or park bench. This is certainly a spot you and your tiny pedalers could spend all day exploring on two wheels!
Insider Tip: If you need an extra set of wheels, you can rent a bike of any size at Spokes ‘N Stuff Bike Rentals located at the ranger station in Griffith Park. Cash only on weekdays.
Lake Balboa Bike Path
Calling all nature lovers! Covering 80 acres, the Sepulveda Basin Recreation Area is a great spot to explore the outdoors right in the heart of the San Fernando Valley. In addition to playgrounds and parks, it also features the beautiful Lake Balboa. The path around the lake is fairly flat, offering an easy trek for novice riders, but it’s by no means boring. There’s tons to look at, especially in the spring when the cherry blossom trees are in bloom. After your ride, relax by the lake, where your little explorers will love watching the ducks and swans swimming around.
Insider Tip: Avoid the larger bike path that runs nine miles around the entire basin and take the shorter, off-street loop around Lake Balboa. Begin on the path from the East side of the lake and head past the Japanese Garden. Need a rest? Stop at the bathrooms and playground along Woodley Avenue before continuing your cruise.
Chandler Bike Path
Converted from railroad tracks in 2004, this two-way concrete path runs through Burbank, starting near Victory Blvd., into the artsy section of North Hollywood, ending at Vineland Ave. It's not a loop, but it's fairly straight and almost completely flat making the ride easy-breezy for beginners. (It's about 3 miles each way.) There are lights at major intersections and stop signs along the way, which keeps the cars cruising parallel to the path from going to fast. Kids can check out the Burbank's tiny homes on Chandler Ave., which give way to art murals in NoHo.
Insider tip: Post bike ride, head a block south at Hollywood Way to Burbank's Magnolia Ave. where you can refuel at popular Cuban restaurant Porto's Bakery and Cafe.
By: Jenifer Scott
featured image: istock