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SGV Hikes and Bikes: Santa Fe Dam

Take to the elevated bikeway for a view of the Valley, or get away from it all in a pedal boat.

11:34 AM PST on January 4, 2024

A fisherman waits for a bite at the Santa Fe Dam reservoir in Irwindale. Credit: Chris Greenspon/SBLA

Streetsblog's 2024 San Gabriel Valley coverage begins with another edition of SGV Hikes and Bikes, from Irwindale’s Santa Fe Dam Recreational Area.

Admittedly, this isn’t an out of the way trail. It’s a Los Angeles County park, built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the late 1970’s (the dam itself was built in the 1940’s). But if you’ve never been, it’s worth checking out.

Fishers relax on the dock at the Santa Fe Dam reservoir in Irwindale. Credit: Chris Greenspon/SBLA
A fisherman floats in the middle of the Santa Fe Dam reservoir in Irwindale. Credit: Chris Greenspon/SBLA

Travelers on Arrow Highway are familiar with the rock wall around the perimeter, with its bike/walk paths on top. Behind that severe, fortress-like exterior is a 70-acre reservoir where you can fish, boat, and even swim (in the summer). Around the pond, there are 836 acres of rocky trails to explore, open to pedestrians, dogs, and horses.

A walking path at the Santa Fe Dam Recreational Area in Irwindale. Credit: Chris Greenspon/SBLA
A playground at the Santa Fe Dam Recreational Area in Irwindale. Credit: Chris Greenspon/SBLA

The paths are flanked by native plants, cacti, and trees, and they offer a very peaceful view of the San Gabriel Mountains. Besides that, there’s a nature center, model rocket pad, playgrounds & exercise equipment, and pedal boat rentals. It all definitely feels a world away from the warehouses and freeways immediately outside of the dam. 

A cyclist rides along the elevated bike/walk path at the Santa Fe Dam Recreational Area in Irwindale. Credit: Chris Greenspon/SBLA
One of Irwindale's many industrial facilities, visible from the bike/walk path at the Santa Fe Dam Recreational Area. Credit: Chris Greenspon/SBLA

There you have it: a place that SGV locals from Baldwin Park, Irwindale, Azusa and Monrovia have been visiting for half a century. Enjoy it on a cool winter’s morning.

By bike, take the San Gabriel River Trail, a 35-mile bike path from Long Beach to Azusa.

There are a few ways to get there by transit. Foothill Transit Line 492 (Arrow Highway) takes riders to the front entrance. Foothill's 185 (Irwindale Avenue) bus also accesses the site; from Irwindale Ave. riders can walk/bike to the front entrance, or use a bike/walk entry at the south end of Peckham Road, just south of First Street.

It's also possible to access taking the A (Gold) Line to Duarte Station. Bike or walk through the entrance gate on Duarte Road, across the street (to the south) from the station. The initial ~1500 feet of the bikeway is unpaved (bikeable packed decomposed granite - DG), after that it's asphalt. To get to the Recreation Area, take the bike path under the 605, along the top of the dam (for about two miles - great views), then hook left into the park. (It's a bit more traffic-y, but cyclists can also ride about a mile from the A Line Irwindale Station to the Peckham entrance.)

If you find yourself driving there on a weekend or holiday, bring $12 cash for parking. 

A lock-up shed for boats at the Santa Fe Dam reservoir in Irwindale. Credit: Chris Greenspon/SBLA
The rock wall around the perimeter of the Santa Fe Dam in Irwindale. Credit: Chris Greenspon/SBLA

Santa Fe Dam Recreational Area

15501 Arrow Hwy, Irwindale, CA 91706

Nov 1 to Feb 28, 6am – 6pm

Mar 1 to Oct 31, 6am – 8pm

(626) 334-1065

Streetsblog’s San Gabriel Valley coverage is supported by Foothill Transit, offering car-free travel throughout the San Gabriel Valley with connections to the Gold Line Stations across the Foothills and Commuter Express lines traveling into the heart of downtown L.A. To plan your trip, visit Foothill Transit. “Foothill Transit. Going Good Places.”Sign-up for our SGV Connect Newsletter, coming to your inbox on Fridays!

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