Spring (or is this one long perpetual summer?) is back and adventure options for those on two wheels are endless! After travelling to a few other places, we wanted to get back on our local tourism tip!
This bicycle tour features destinations in between the Red Line North Hollywood Station (in NoHo) and the Griffith Park Sunday Drum Circle. Yes, a drum circle! This 8.5 mile-long bike ride travels along different bike facilities (bike paths, lanes, and routes) and features a variety of LA neighborhood attractions from shops & entertainment in NoHo to nature & culture in Griffith Park.
Come along for the ride! To prepare, you need: a bike, a bike lock, some kind of map or smart phone, water, snacks, and don’t forget your sun protection, because it can get HOT!
For those carrying bicycles on public transit into NoHo, there are a few options: (1) Metro Red Line Subway travels from Central LA into North Hollywood, (2) Metro Orange Line BRT connects across the San Fernando Valley into North Hollywood, and (3) locals bus routes are available from different areas of Los Angeles into North Hollywood’s Transit Center, located adjacent to the Metro Red Line Station. Bicycle are allowed on Metro Rail cars anytime, but make sure to use the car doors with a bicycle sign and hold your bike at all times. Metro Buses come with a front bike rack capable of holding (2) bikes, with the exception of the Metro Orange Line BRT, which can carry up to three!
Imagine it is Sunday morning, you just arrived in NoHo to meet a friend, sleepy and starving… Well luckily the NOHO Arts District is located right next to the Metro Station! You can walk your bike south along Lankershim, or east along Magnolia, to find all sorts of coffee shops to satiate that morning tummy grumble. There is plenty of convenient bike parking in the district, both in the forms of U-racks and a bicycle corral (on Lankershim Blvd., just in front of the Laemmle movie theater). Once you’re parked, sit down and enjoy a good morning coffee and breakfast. My personal favorites are Eat and Republic of Pie. You can also enjoy a bang for your buck filling breakfast at North Hollywood Diner.
Before leaving Noho, make sure you swing by the new People St. NoHo Plaza. Sit at a cafe table and enjoy your last sip of coffee surrounded by polka dots, palm trees, planters, and musical tunes coming the dance studio next door!
Grab your bike and head back towards the Red Line station. Once you get to Chandler Blvd., make a turn and ride Eastbound along the Chandler bike lane. The next major intersection is Vineland Ave., where the Chandler Blvd. Bike Path begins. The Chandler Bike Path is a vibrant landscape, busy with benches, trees and murals, as well as people walking, riding bicycles, and picnicking along the grassy shoulders of the route. This neighborhood is calm and safe. The side streets are quiet, and by default good bicycle friendly streets that serve as alternative bike routes. You will stay on the Chandler path until Keystone St., where it ends, just over 2 miles long. Make a right onto Keystone and head east for another 1.5 miles until you run into Riverside Dr. Make a left onto Riverside Dr. and ride on its bike lanes until you hit Victory Blvd., just over 1.5 miles away. You will notice a number of equestrian centers along Riverside Dr. and might even need to share the bike lane with a horse! Since motorized traffic is largely absent from these on-street bikeways, the overall experience on this route is relaxed and leisurely.
Before turning right onto Riverside Dr. at Victory Blvd., consider a quick jaunt to Justin Ave., where you can grab a quick snack at Pecos Bill’s BBQ! Peco Bill’s is a valley institution popular for its Oklahoma-style BBQ sandwiches and pork ribs. Mmmmmm.
Once you’re fueled up, proceed with caution for the last 0.3 mile segment of Riverside Dr. between Victory Blvd. and Zoo Dr. This part of the route is highly trafficked by motor-vehicles accessing the 134 Freeway’s on and off ramps, and since there are no bikeway markings until you get to Zoo Drive, you will share road space with fast-moving car traffic!
If you’re thinking: “Mixing with car traffic? No way, no how! I prefer something else…” you can take an alternative route along the LA River Bike Path instead of following my route. There are access points to the River Path at Los Feliz Blvd., Sunynook Dr., Glendale Blvd., Fletcher Dr., and Riverside Dr.
If you decide to follow my route, just continue riding over the bridge, all the way to the end of Riverside Dr. and turn left onto the Zoo Dr.’s bike lanes.
The next 2.2 miles of bike riding are quite pleasant. The landscape turns green with extensive lawns, trees, and hills at your side. Families picnic at tables along the road and I often see bike clubs snacking and resting at these rest areas. Griffith Park is one of the most beautiful urban parks in Los Angeles and is full of people barbecuing, playing games, and relaxing.
Half way into the 2.2 miles, you can find the LA Zoo and the Autry Museum. Personally, I love the Autry Museum, an institution dedicated to bringing together the stories of all peoples of the American West. The Autry features convenient bike parking, rotating exhibitions, a great museum shop, and popular cafe.
We’re down to the last stretch of this bike tour. Our final destination is Griffith Park’s Sunday Drum Circle. Cruise back to Zoo Dr. and pick up riding where you left off. Soon after leaving the museum, you’ll notice that Zoo Dr. turns into Crystal Springs Dr. Continue ahead for another mile until you reach the first sign directing guests towards the merry-go-round. Make a quick right turn onto Fire Rd., and the drum circle will be located on your left. People from all walks of life gather under large trees to play traditional African and Cuban drums such as congas, tom-tom drums, timbales, small percussion, cow bells, shakers and cabasas from noon until sundown every Sunday.
It’s best to embark on this 8.5 mile bike tour around mid-morning to enjoy every bit without rushing. To find your way back, follow the the same route in the opposite direction, or remember if you’re tired, you don’t have to bike both ways… Take your bike on transit! The Metro Bus 96 comes every hour on Sundays between 7am and 7pm approximately, with a stop located at Crystal Springs Dr. and Fire Rd., just steps away from the drum circle. The LA River Bike Path is also near you, a great option for those heading back towards Northeast LA (but make sure to ride safely when crossing the 5 freeway overpass).
I hope you try my bike tour and share your experience in the comment section below.
See you on the road!
Jose Tchopourian is a Student Professional Worker in the LADOT Bicycle Program.