It’s big. It’s bright orange. And now, it’s here, the Taylor Yard Bridge, allowing people to walk or bike across the Los Angeles River from the communities of Cypress Park and Elysian Valley (a.k.a. Frogtown). A much-hyped, decades-long project that took $27.2 million to develop, the bridge is meant to, as L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti put it, “give Angelenos another way to enjoy our historic waterway.”
But does it? On a recent Sunday, my husband and I decided to go on a bike ride and check it out.
We headed to the section of the river known as the Glendale Narrows, with its two-lane bike path stretching from Cypress Park to Griffith Park. We started our eight-mile round-trip ride at the south end of the path, parking in the lot at the Los Angeles River Center & Gardens and biking a block or two to the bridge at Riverside, which leads onto the path. It’s also easily accessible from many parks directly along the route, from Oso Park and Egret Park on the south to Griffith Park and Lewis MacAdams Riverfront Park north of the bridge.
While the view from the path, wedged between Interstate 5 and the river, isn’t always picturesque, it is quintessentially L.A. Riotous bursts of fuchsia bougainvillea cascade next to razor-wire fences and colorful graffiti on one side of the path, while views of rushing water, rocks, Sycamore trees and waving native grasses line the bottom of the paved riverbed on the other.
We passed mallards, a honking gaggle of Canadian geese and a woman casting her fishing line off the cement banks of the river as we pedaled toward the west side of the bridge. Then it came into view, its bright orange box trusses designed to evoke the land’s railyard past and punctuate the view in the same way that the big fin (or maybe finger) of the neighboring Atwater Bridge makes its own statement.
For all the fanfare, the Taylor Yard Bridge was remarkably uncrowded as we rode over the 400-foot span, with only a handful of cyclists and dog walkers passing by us.
Parking our bikes on one of two viewing platforms extending over either side of the river, we took in the view of the Santa Monica mountains, the Hollywood sign in the distance and a Snowy Egret picking his way among the rocks below. It was a fantastic vantage point — and a great place to catch a sip of water on the ride — but unfortunately, the bridge didn’t open up any new routes on our ride.
As soon as we crossed the bridge we were met with a “Bike Path End” sign at the mounds of gravel marking the future site of the Taylor Yard G2 River Park, which the city hopes to have completed in 2028. For now, it really is a bridge to nowhere for cyclists hoping to catch up with another bike path or destination, although it is a welcome linkage for pedestrians and bikers in the immediate communities. Once over the bridge, you hit San Fernando Road with its warehouses and traffic, as well as Rio De Los Angeles State Park a block away if you want to pack a picnic lunch, but for us that’s where the trail ran cold.
So we crossed back over the bridge and headed north on the bike path by Frogtown toward Griffith Park. Development has heated up on this stretch in the last several years with new high-rise apartments underway and trendy eateries opening both on and off the path. We decided to grab a bite before biking back to our car.
As we headed north on the trail, we hit La Colombe Coffee shop first with its colorful patio and bougainvillea spilling onto the bike path and cyclists sipping coffee on the banks of the river. Next to that and a block over we found the Just What I Kneaded vegan café and bakery on Blake Street where we considered stopping for a sandwich. But we pressed on, stopping in at the Spoke Bicycle Café which advertises free air for bike tires, as well as sandwiches and bowls on its large-shaded patio.
Enjoy the Taylor Yard Bridge under the stars
The Elysian Valley Arts Collective is hosting a free community event to celebrate the opening of the Taylor Yard Bridge. There will musical and artistic performances, free food for the first 200 people and an invitation to stroll or ride your bike along the path. Organizers encourage attendees to “bring the light” by carrying, wearing or decorating your bike with a light.
Just down the path, a sandwich board marked the stop for the Frogtown Brewery, which hosts weekend food trucks. We also passed Rattlesnake Park with its mosaic-tiled serpent climber where our kids used to play, before making our way to our final destination, Mexican restaurant Salazar. Located a block from the path by Fletcher Road, it serves up tacos and prickly pear margaritas on a crowded, colorful patio.
After quaffing our drinks and deciding against the long wait for a table, we turned around and pedaled back to Cypress Park for the ride home. While the bridge that brought us out might not have brought us to much of a ride on the other side, we were glad it reconnected us with one of our favorite old routes, this time with more entertaining places to linger.