A lakeside hike at Whittier Narrows Recreation Area

This is a very pleasant urban oasis in the midst of what is, for many Angelenos, a freeway flyover zone in South El Monte. This section of Whittier Narrows Recreation Area features several lakes, abundant waterfowl, picnic tables, public restrooms and well-tended walking and jogging trails.

Just off Parking Lot D, the paved path curves along the water with the lake on your left. Rental paddle boats float in a cluster on the water, while waterfowl roam the area. (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times)

1. Start at Parking Lot D, off Santa Anita Avenue, and head north in the county park, following the paved path with the lake on your left. Feel free to gaze at the swans and rental paddle boats.


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2. Follow the path around the northern edge of the lake until you reach restroom building No. 9. Here, bend left, walking between two lakes. If you hear the sound of gunfire, don’t be alarmed: There is a skeet-shooting facility just outside the park.

Past this narrow bridge are more public restrooms and a play area. (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times)

3. Cross a narrow bridge, then bear around to the right and follow the path until you are again walking between two lakes. Pass a play area and public restroom.


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4. Turn left at this intersection, and walk toward the water. If you hear the sound of high-pitched motors, don’t be alarmed: There is a dock for remote-controlled boats on the lake just ahead. Walk past this, and curve around the southern part of the water.

The shoreline will lead to a dock that juts out over the water. Varieties of egrets and heron often skim the lake and can be seen best from that location. (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times)

5. Stop at a bird-watching dock that juts over the water. If you’re patient, you’ll see many varieties of heron skimming the water or fishing in the shallows.

Continuing along the walk, you will find this bridge over a small waterfall. (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times)

6. Continue around the eastern edge of the park, staying close to the lake, until you find a bridge over a small waterfall. From here, wind your way back to the left, between the lakes, for a long walk back, or take a short cut to the right to the parking lot.

Fleming is the author of “Secret Stairs: A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of Los Angeles” and “Secret Stairs East Bay: A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of Berkeley and Oakland.”


The stats

Distance: 3 miles
1 hour
Difficulty: 2 on a scale of 1 to 5
Details: Ample free parking. Dogs on a leash are OK. Wheelchair accessible.

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