The Los Angeles River or L.A. River starts in the San Fernando Valley, Simi Hills, and Santa Susana Mountains and flows from its headwaters in Canoga Park, almost 48 miles to its mouth in Long Beach. Until the opening of the Los Angeles Aqueduct in 1913, the Los Angeles River was the primary source of water in Los Angeles. Calabasas Creek is a seven mile long tributary of the Los Angeles River located in the San Fernando Valley. Aliso Creek is another major tributary of the Los Angeles River. Its headwaters are below Oat Mountain which is the highest peak in the Santa Susana Mountains.
Facts About the Los Angeles River
Los Angeles River Master Plan
The master plan for the Los Angeles River (L.A. River) includes the following goals: (1) to ensure flood control and public safety, (2) to improve the appearance of the river, (3) to promote the river as an economic asset, and (4) to create recreational opportunities along the river.
Los Angeles River Bicycle Path
The Los Angeles River Bicycle Path, also known as the L.A. River Bicycle Path, is a four mile bicycle path in the Greater Los Angeles Area near Griffith Park that parallels the Los Angeles River. Plans by the City of Los Angeles include an expansion of the path to 51 miles.
Lario Trail System
The Lario Trail System consists of 22 miles of biking, hiking, and equestrian trails along the Los Angeles River and the 16.4 mile Rio Hondo tributary. The trail begins near the Whittier Narrows Dam and continues along the Rio Hondo tributary until its confluence with the L.A. River, and runs to the Pacific Ocean at Long Beach. The Lario Trail provides connections to seven parks adjacent to the Los Angeles River and Rio Hondo tributary.
Los Angeles River Greenway
The Los Angeles River Greenway, also referred to as the L.A. River Greenway, refers to the organized effort by many private and government organizations to transform the Los Angeles River into a continuous 51 mile recreational greenway starting at the confluence of the Bell and Calabasas creeks at the western end of the San Fernando Valley to the Pacific Ocean in Long Beach.
Friends of the Los Angeles River
Friends of the Los Angeles River (FOLAR) is a non-profit organization established in 1986 for the purpose of protecting and restoring the natural and historic heritage of the Los Angeles River and its habitat through planning, education, and wise stewardship. The organization is located in Los Angeles.
Friends of the River (FOR)
Friends of the River (FOR), founded in 1973, is a statewide river conservation organization in California. The organization is a nationally recognized authority on the adverse impacts of dams on rivers and ecosystems. FOR is dedicated to preserving and restoring California’s rivers, streams, and their watersheds, including the Los Angeles River, the Santa Clara River, the San Gabriel River, the Rio Hondo, the Ventura River, Calabasas Creek, Calleguas Creek, Aliso Creek, Malibu Creek, Bell Creek, and the Arroyo Seco.
Los Angeles River Watershed
The Los Angeles River (L.A. River) Watershed consists of an 871 square mile area encompassing the San Gabriel Mountains to the north and east, the Santa Susana Mountains to the west, and the Santa Monica Mountains and the coastal plain to the south. There are 22 lakes within the Los Angeles River Watershed.
Southern California Watersheds
A watershed is an area of land that collects water whenever it rains or snows and from irrigation. Through gravity, water channeled into soils, groundwater, creeks, and lakes, drain into larger bodies of water and eventually to the ocean. Due to the large volume of storm water, it cannot be treated before it reaches the ocean. Since we all live in a watershed, we can all help in keeping our area free of harmful chemicals and other waste.
Council for Watershed Health
The Council for Watershed Health, previously known as the Los Angeles & San Gabriel Rivers Watershed Council, was formed in 1996. Its objective is to bring together representatives from all water agencies, government regulatory agencies, citizens, and other responsible, interested parties, in order to help preserve, restore, and enhance the Los Angeles River, the San Gabriel River, and their watersheds. The organization is supported primarily by tax dollars. Council members are from the following: Los Angeles Flood Control District, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County, County of Los Angeles Flood Control District, California Coastal Conservancy, United States Bureau of Reclamation, Rivers and Mountains Conservancy, California Department of Water Resources, and the Annenberg Foundation. The non-profit organization is headquartered in Downtown Los Angeles.
Tributaries of the Los Angeles River
The following tributaries join the Los Angeles River as it flows from Canoga Park in the San Fernando Valley to its mouth in Long Beach:
Bell Creek, also known as Escorpion Creek, is a 10 mile long tributary of the Los Angeles River that originates in the Simi Hills of Ventura County and the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles County.
Small Tributaries of the Los Angeles River
Bull Creek, Encino Creek, Woodley Creek, and Havenhurst Creek are all small tributaries that originate in the western San Fernando Valley and feed the Los Angeles River which flows nearly 48 miles through Los Angeles County to the Pacific Ocean.
Los Angeles River Watershed
The Los Angeles River Watershed covers 871 square miles. The eastern portion spans from the Santa Monica Mountains to the Simi Hills, and in the west, from the Santa Susana Mountains to the San Gabriel Mountains. Forest or open space covers the northern half of the watershed, while the remaining area is urbanized. There are 22 lakes within the Los Angeles River Watershed.
The Glendale Narrows is a seven mile section of the Los Angeles River, adjacent to Griffith Park, Los Feliz, and other sections of Los Angeles, that has an earthen bottom as opposed to concrete. The Glendale Narrows area is very popular with fishermen and birdwatchers. Largemouth Bass, Carp, Tilapia, Catfish, and Crawfish are all found in the river. Birds include American White Pelicans, Mallards, Spotted Sandpipers, Canadian Geese, and many others.
Sunnynook River Park
Sunnynook River Park is a beautiful 3.4 acre public park located between the Golden State Freeway to the west, and the Los Angeles River and Los Angeles River Bike Path to the immediate east. The park is in Atwater Village which is a small community in the northwest section of Los Angeles, east of Silver Lake and Griffith Park, and south and west of Glendale. The park is within walking distance to Red Car River Park.
Marsh Park - Los Angeles River
Marsh Park is a three acre park next to the Los Angeles River near the seven mile section of the 51 mile river known as the Glendale Narrows. This area of the river has a natural, soft bottom that encourages plants, fish, birds, and other animals to thrive. Marsh Park offers access to the river, a great view of the Verdugo Hills, a children's play area, and picnic facilities. The park is planted with native marshland and upland plants which encourage birds, fish, other small animals, and butterflies to inhabit the area. It is a beautiful setting located in the central Los Angeles Basin.
Elysian Park is a 600-acre city park in Los Angeles, which includes Chavez Ravine, the location of Dodger Stadium and the Los Angeles Police Academy. It is the second largest park in Los Angeles and the oldest having been founded in 1886. Elysian Park is located directly north of Chinatown, Los Angeles and Downtown Los Angeles. Echo Park is to the west and northwest, Cypress Park is to the northeast, and Lincoln Heights is to the east. At the southeastern section of the park is the Los Angeles River where the Portola expedition camped and gave the river is name in 1769. The Portola Trail Campsite is located at the Meadow Road entrance and has been designated a California Historical Landmark.
Los Angeles Riverside Communities
Communities and cities along the banks of the Los Angeles River include:
Los Angeles River Center and Gardens
The Los Angeles River Center and Gardens serves as a focal point for the renewal of the Los Angeles River, numerous non-profit organizations, community events, private parties, and educational conferences. A visitor center provides information on the history of the Los Angeles River and includes many photographs of early Southern California. The center is located near the confluence of the Los Angeles River and the Arroyo Seco near Downtown Los Angeles. The park area provides picnic tables, benches, fountains, lots of open space, and beautiful gardens. The site was formerly Lawry's California Center and Restaurant.
L.A. River Expeditions
L.A. River Expeditions is a non-profit group of citizens dedicated to the revitalization of the Los Angeles River. The organization has been instrumental in expanding the use of canoes and kayaks on the Los Angeles River as part of the newly established Los Angeles River Recreational Zones.
Los Angeles River Recreation Zones
The Los Angeles River Recreation Zones currently consist of the Elysian Valley River Recreation Zone and the Sepulveda Basin River Recreation Zone. These zones will be expanded in the near future and more recreation zones are expected to be added. The public is permitted to access the Los Angeles River in these zones and to utilize non-motorized boats such as kayaks and canoes. Kayak rentals are available most weekends at Marsh Park located at 2960 Marsh Avenue in Elysian Valley.
Los Angeles River Revitalization Corporation
The Los Angeles River Revitalization Corporation, formed in 2009, is a non-profit corporation that is working toward the goal of creating a 51 mile greenway corridor that will run along a restored Los Angeles River. Their plan is to create more green open space, a more healthy environment, and better recreational facilities.
Save LA River Open Space
Save LA River Open Space is a non-profit all volunteer organization dedicated to preserving the last remaining Los Angeles River frontage in the San Fernando Valley as open Space. The goal is to utilize the land as a river-oriented park and to restore the river to its natural condition where possible.
The River Project
The River Project is a non-profit organization working to protect and restore the ecosystem of the Los Angeles River Watershed in Los Angeles County.
Los Angeles River Water Discharge
While Southern California residents have suffered with drought conditions for more than ten years, according to the City of Los Angeles, the average daily discharge of water from the Los Angeles River into the Pacific Ocean is 207 million gallons of water per day or 143,750 gallons every minute. In one second 2,396 gallons of precious water flow into the ocean never to be used for agriculture, landscape maintenance, or any other purpose.
Brown's Creek, also referred to as Brown's Canyon Wash, is a 10.3 mile long tributary of the Los Angeles River. It is located in the western San Fernando Valley which is in Los Angeles County. The creek originates in the eastern Santa Susana Mountains and runs adjacent to Browns Canyon Road and under the Ronald Reagan 118 Freeway, south to Chatsworth, then Winnetka, and finally to Canoga Park where it joins the Los Angeles River.
Bull Creek is a 9.6 mile tributary of the Los Angeles River in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles. The creek originates at Oat Mountain, in the Santa Susana Mountains, and then runs south through Granada Hills, North Hills, Van Nuys, and Lake Balboa. It joins the Los Angeles River inside the Sepulveda Dam Recreation Area.
Elysian Park, established in 1886, is the second largest park in the City of Los Angeles consisting of more than 600 acres, and the oldest park in the city. It includes Chavez Ravine where Dodger Stadium is located and the Los Angeles Police Academy. Elysian Valley is to the north and northeast, and Chinatown is to the south. The southeastern end of the park is near the Los Angeles River where the Portola expedition camped in 1769. The Portola Trail Campsite is a California Historical Landmark.
Solano Canyon is a canyon within Elysian Park and the name of a small residential community at the southern end of the Elysian Park community. It is north of Los Angeles State Park, Chinatown, and Downtown Los Angeles.
Egret Park is a small community park located adjacent to the Los Angeles River at the downstream end of the Whittier Narrows. It is one of the most beautiful natural stretches along the river. Visitors are highly likely to see a family of Egrets and other wildlife at the edge of the river.
Tongva Indian Villages
Tongva Indian Villages were located in the Los Angeles Basin for thousands of years. These villages were located near and around the ever changing Los Angeles River, San Gabriel River, Santa Ana River, and the coastal areas.
Pacific Realtors has created a historical timeline for those having an interest in the history of Los Angeles and the surrounding areas.