Arroyo Seco - Trail Running

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The Arroyo Seco Trail is an awesome inner city running trail that is easy to do long distances if you want to get some miles under your feet without seeing too many other people.

Written by

Noah Goldberg-Jaffe


0.1 miles

From 6 to more than 12 miles roundtrip, depending on how many of the three segments you want to do.

Destination Distance From Downtown

6.5 miles


3 of 5 diamonds

Time To Complete

1 hours

Varies, depending on how far you want to go.


All Seasons

Dog Friendly


Fees Permits




The Arroyo Seco holds an important piece in Los Angles’ illustrious history. Any layman can know about the basic history of the city. Yes, the aerospace industry and of course Hollywood have brought incredible fame and fortune to  the city, but without a way to divert enough water to keep the city’s residents alive, this oasis would be nothing more than another swath of dry arid desert in Southern Caifornia. The Arroyo Seco is one of the few rivers that survived from the time of the first LA settlers in the mid nineteenth century. It may not look like it did then, but at least this small vestige of what LA could have looked like before settling, still remains.

What Makes It Great

The trail in mind is an awesome inner city running trail that is easy to do long distances if you want to get some miles under your feet without seeing too many other people. The section described in this piece is the entire Arroyo Seco Loop, from Highland Park (Lower Arroyo Park) to the Devils Gate at the 210 Freeway, about a ten-mile run. This section is broken into three sections: the lower arroyo, the rose bowl and the Brookside Golf Course Section. The beauty of this trail is that you can do any segment, it is all nice, and there are lots of connections to roads where you can leave a car or get picked up by a friend if you do not want to do a loop.

The first section will bring you along the exposed Arroyo Seco River, which is, like many other rivers in LA, completely cemented over. If you go during the dry season, you will see the all too glaring measurement of the lack of water on the side of the riverbank. The trail goes up both the east and west side of the river so don’t work which side you are on, they are essentially the same. 

After about 3 miles, the trail will shoot you out into the Rose Bowl area (see entry on Rose Bowl Road Running), the second section of the run. This is the only trail section of the trail where you will encounter a lot of people, this is also the only place you can get lost, so be careful. The dirt running path will briefly put you up onto the N Arroyo Boulevard sidewalk. This is ok. Continue north (take a left) a follow signs to the Rose Bowl. You will meet up with dirt path again as you run up the west side of the historic Rose Bowl. You’ll probably be sharing this section with bikers runners and walker and walkers who come here to exercise. No matter, you’ll be in the trees in no time!

The third and final section of this run (before you turn around), is the nicest. Once you leave the Rose Bowl, you will shoot into a beautifully treed section that is both more technical and more aesthetically pleasing that the rest. Runners beware in this section as the trail is more hilly (although its more of an up and down with little total elevation gain) and more rocky and rooted. For those runners who like a little challenge, this run is a nice part to work up to. Once you see a big overpass (this is the 210 freeway), you can turn around and make your way back. Retrace your steps and finish off the run back in Highland Park. 

Who is Going to Love It

This path is great for runners, walkers, and cyclists alike. It's pretty easy to put in as many or as few miles as you would like, making it a decent trail to get in some training.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

Take York Boulevard East until you hit San Pascual Ave. Turn left here and follow until you see the parking lot on the left. Park here for free as long as you care to. Find the trailhead just to the north over the small river and begin!


Arroyo Seco Trail Running

649 Stoney Dr
South Pasadena, CA, 91030
34.121575, -118.1668

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