Whittier Narrows, South El Monte, CA

Whittier Narrows Nature Trails

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Whittier Narrows Nature Trails

  • Location: 1000 Durfee Ave., South El Monte. From Los Angeles, take the 60 Freeway to Peck Rd (exit 11). Turn right on Durfee Ave. The park entrance is on the left in 0.3 mile. From points east, take the 60 Freeway to Peck Rd. Turn left, cross under the freeway and take the first right onto Durfee Ave. The park entrance is on the left in 0.3 mile. From points south, take the 605 Freeway to the Peck Rd. exit (18). Turn right onto Pellissier Place and then right onto Peck Rd. Go 0.8 mile, turn left on Durfee and follow it 0.3 mile the park entrance.
  • Agency: L.A. County Parks & Recreation
  • Distance: 2 miles
  • Elevation gain: Level
  • Suggested time: 1 hour
  • Difficulty rating: G
  • Best season:  Year-round (8am-5pm daily)
  • Dogs: Allowed on leash
  • Cell phone reception: Good
  • Water: Fountain at trail head
  • Restrooms: None
  • Camping/backpacking: None
  • More information: Trip description here; article about the nature center here; Yelp page here
  • Rating: 1

Located near the confluence of the San Gabriel River and Rio Hondo, the Whittier Narrows Nature Area is one of the largest open spaces between east Los Angeles and the Puente Hills. Its wetland habitat supports a diverse plant life, including black walnut trees, willows and sycamores. Birds that frequent the watershed include egrets, herons, California Towhee and hummingbirds. On clear days, the views (albeit through power lines) of the San Gabriel Mountains are impressive. With an extensive network of trails, many different routes are possible; indeed, it’s an enjoyable place to wander around for any amount of time. The double-loop described here travels through the more scenic eastern end of the park.

From the parking area, head south on the Tom Bulmer Trail which connects with Trail 2, one of the park’s main routes, at 0.1 mile. Turn right and follow the wide dirt path southwest. Despite being bordered by a fence on one side, separating the park from the San Gabriel River Bike Trail, the stroll feels pleasantly rural. Half a mile from the beginning, turn right on a single-track trail that passes a viewing platform above the wetlands. A staircase brings you to the opposite side of the wash where you bear left, closing out the loop in a quarter mile.

Back on Trail 2, continue west for a few dozen yards before reaching another junction. Head right on a wider path which soon pulls up alongside Durfee St. You’ll hear traffic, but a row of trees provides a nice visual buffer. You join a paved road which curves left and rejoins Trail 2, 1.3 miles from the start. From this point, you can return to the parking area via Trail 2 and the Tom Bulmer Trail. Trail 2 continues west as well, but that part of the park is less attractive. Litter is abundant, as is noise from the nearby water reclamation plant.

Though it’s more developed, Legg Lake across the street is also part of the Whittier Narrows Recreation Area and is worth a visit. Activities here include more walking trails as well as fishing, radio controlled boating and disc golf. The park is also projected to be a future home for the San Gabriel River Discovery Center.

Photo Gallery (click thumbnails to see the full sized versions)

Whittier Narrows Nature Center, S El Monte, CA
Prickly pear
Whittier Narrows Nature Center, S. El Monte, CA
Live oak
Whittier Narrows Nature Center, S El Monte, CA
Black walnut trees
Whittier Narrows, South El Monte, CA
Diverse wetland botany






Text and photography copyright 2016 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. By reading this, you agree not to hold the author or publisher of the content on this web site responsible for any injuries or inconveniences that may result from hiking on this trail. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.


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