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Fat Tire & LACBC Present: Reconnecting with Paayme Paxaayt (LA River)


This ride pays homage to our annual community event that we’ve had to go without hosting for two years in a row. This ride begins at our usual gathering/starting location for the LA River Ride, but heads towards parts of the LA River that aren’t part of LACBC’s usual route from Griffith Park to Long Beach. This ride is a way for us to honor our history as we inevitably hurdle towards the future. We invite you to view a different side of the LA River this month, starting with its name - Paayme Paxaayt is the indigenous name for the river that is the lifeforce of this region.

Areas: Griffith Park to Encino Distance: 30.9 miles Elevation: +446 ft / -448 ft Link to self-guided route: Link to route only:

We’d also like to challenge you to complete these 30 miles - the longest self-guided ride yet - in honor of Fat Tire’s 30th anniversary. Fat Tire has generously sponsored this self-guided ride, as part of New Belgium’s overall efforts to support numerous social causes and initiatives. New Belgium is celebrating 30 years of making tasty brews while doing good. Celebrate by doing this ride, and imagine yourself winning one of this year’s custom-made & custom designed anniversary bikes by Brooklyn Bicycle Co. Learn more about the bike and how to enter:

This 30.9 mile ride rises gradually in elevation, climbing about 440 ft over 15 miles or so then heading back down those 440 feet on the way back. It starts at The Autry Museum and heads northwest along bike lanes and side streets before reaching the turnaround point at Lake Balboa/Anthony Beilenson Park. Then the Orange Line Bikeway takes you to Chandler Blvd, where you’re on a bike lane until reaching the Chandler Bikeway in North Hollywood. From there the route mostly follows side streets and bike lanes all the way back to Griffith Park.

When I Remember I See Red

This ride starts at The Autry Museum of the American West, 4700 Western Heritage Way, Los Angeles, CA 90027. Parking here is free, unrestricted, and at your own risk. Metro Bus 96 also has a stop here.

The Autry is currently hosting an exhibition called When I Remember I See Red: American Indian Art & Activism in California.

The exhibition features Native California artists whose work supports the resistance and renewal of Native culture. The exhibition runs through November 14, and since The Autry reopened on March 30, be sure to check the exhibition out for yourself. The museum is open from 10am to 4pm Tuesdays through Sundays. Make sure to visit their website for the latest updates:

From here it’s 8.7 miles to our next stop.

Exit the parking lot and make a right to head north along Zoo Drive. After the Travel Town Gift Shop, make a right to stay on Zoo Drive. At the next street make a left to ride west along Forest Lawn Drive.

Stay on Forest Lawn for two miles then make a sharp right onto Barham Blvd. Make a u-turn at Warner Bros. Gate 3, or Olive St, then a right onto Hood Ave. Make a right at the next right, Rose St.

In five blocks make a left onto National Ave then a right onto Clybourne followed by a left onto Moorpark. In about half a mile make a right onto Ledge Ave. In another half mile make a left onto Camarillo. The next stop, a view of Tujunga Wash from the sidewalk, is in just under three miles.

Tujunga Wash

Here at the corner of Whitsett and Riverside Drive is our first encounter with the Tujunga Wash on this ride. It may not look like much in its current form, but this stream provides about a fifth of the LA River’s flow. About one and a half miles southeast of here, the Tujunga Wash joins the LA River just west of Colfax Avenue and south of Moorpark St. Although this waterway is a vital life source for the LA River, it usually stays dry, especially around here near the end of its trajectory. During the fall and early spring, the wash carries significant flows through its 13 mile stretch due to heavy rains.

According to an ethnohistoric narrative collected in 1916, Tuxu, meaning “old woman,” is thought to relate to the narrative of a mother’s grief over the untimely loss of her daughter. It is thought that this narrative became the basis for the village whose name we still honor today: the village of Tujunga/Tuxunga. A map detailing Tataviam-Tribal territory shows the village near the northern part of the wash, close to where Hansen Dam is today.

Our next stop, with a restroom and a chance to catch a breather, is in 2.3 miles.

Continue heading west along Riverside Drive for 2.2 miles. After Hazeltine, make a right on Stansbury Ave then a left onto Huston Street. The recreation area will be on your right hand side.

Van Nuys/Sherman Oaks Recreation Area

Here at the Van Nuys/Sherman Oaks Recreation Area you’ll find a place to rest, take a restroom break and refuel should you need a pit stop before doing 4.5 more miles to get to Lake Balboa/Anthony Beilenson Park.

The San Fernando Valley didn’t become part of the City of Los Angeles until 1915, 134 years after the founding of El Pueblo de la Reina de Los Angeles in 1781.

This recreation area and the surrounding community is named after Isaac Newton Van Nuys. Isaac Lankershim, joined by Van Nuys, bought 60,000 acres from Rancho Ex-Mission San Fernando in the late 1860’s and early 1870’s. Before then, the land you’re standing on had been part of a Mexican land grant granted to Spaniard Eulogio de Celis in 1846, one year after Alta California Governor Pio Pico put the land up for sale using the Mexican Secularization Act. This law allowed the sale of mission lands in an attempt to curb the Roman Catholic Church’s influence in newly independent Mexico.

Before then for only 50 years, this land was part of the San Fernando Mission. The actual mission building was where it still stands today (although it’s been rebuilt five times). It’s located eight miles to the north, in between the 405, 5 and 118 freeways.

From here, you can read the description for an overview of upcoming directions, or allow izi.Travel to trigger the navigation via audio.

Directions to next place

From here it’s 4.5 miles to the next stop & turnaround point, Lake Balboa/Anthony Beilenson Park. Once you’re ready to leave the recreation area, head west along Huston Street then make a right onto Tyrone Ave and a left onto Addison St. In two blocks make a right on Cedros.

In three blocks you’ll make a left onto Hartsook. In two blocks make a right onto Kester followed by an immediate left onto Magnolia. One block west of Magnolia make a right onto Saloma Ave. At the end of the street, take a left on Weddington St. In three blocks make a right on Noble.

Once you hit Burbank, make a left. This right here is probably the sketchiest part of this ride. Navigate the next few blocks at your own discretion. You can choose to hop on the sidewalk after Sepulveda Blvd, or stay in the second most right lane as you make your way across the freeway entrance. After that you can hop on the sidewalk and make your way west along Burbank Blvd onto the bike paths of the Sepulveda Basin Recreation Area.

After crossing Woodlely Street, the route takes you on a protected shared path that crosses over the Los Angeles River. Once this protected portion ends and the bike path continues, there’s another route behind a gate that goes alongside the LA River. Hop on and share space with the river for this short stretch.

At the end of this portion, keep an eye out for a National Historical Trail marker identifying the Juan Bautista de Anza Trail. Then head right to continue north along Balboa Blvd and you’ll find yourself at Lake Balboa/Anthony Beilenson Park.

Siutcanga - Encino

Our turnaround point on this ride is Lake Balboa/Anthony Beilenson Park, located just north of Encino. Siutcanga is the name of the village that was once in this area. Here you’ll find restrooms and the Orange Line Station is on the corner of Balboa and Victory Blvd nearby. This park is part of a larger network of greenspace which includes the Sepulveda Basin Recreation Area and the Balboa Golf Course. This route crosses through the Recreation Area just north of the golf course, alongside the LA River, or Paayme Paxaayt.

As the path along the river comes to an end, a historical marker on the right hand side serves as a reminder that this place, like all places, is a part of history.

The path alongside the river, as well as most of our general direction from The Autry Museum, is part of the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail. The 1,200-mile trail starts in Nogales, Arizona, marking the path that its namesake, along with 240 people, trekked in 1775-76 to the San Francisco Bay Area.

This trail had the potential to transform California by providing a land route from Sonora y Sinaloa, territory the Spanish had already claimed in Mexico. The trail only got 5 years of use by the Spanish, before an uprising by the Quechua in Yuma closed the trail to Spanish use. In order to reach California, supplies, weapons and people now had to go by sea, around the Baja Peninsula.

Check out this timeline of events that influenced the history of this trail.

From here the route doesn’t have any actual stops until our return to Griffith Park. In about seven miles, we’ll pass through certain neighborhoods with layers of history in their names. For the next featured stop, you can take a short break to listen, or just continue on as you make your way downhill back to the museum.

Head back along the Orange Line Bikeway, which you’ll find by exiting the park, taking a right to head north on Balboa, then making a right onto Victory Blvd. You’ll see the bike path right after the Metro parking lot. Once the bikeway ends at Chandler Blvd, hop on the bike lane and continue east. You’ll stay on Chandler for a total of five miles as it goes from bike lane to bikeway after Vineland Ave.

Area of Kawenga & Toluca Villages

The route heads back through the Valley along the Orange Line Bikeway and Chandler Boulevard’s bike lane and bikeway. Throughout this area there are several names that shine a light on the area’s Indigenous roots. Keep an eye out for Cahuenga Blvd, named after a Kizh/Tongva/Gabrielino village site near the mission, but the precise location is unknown. Variations of the name include Kawengna. The Chandler Bikeway grazes the northern border of the Toluca Terrace, Toluca Woods, and Toluca Lake neighborhoods. This area is the home of the village of Tohlookah.

California has a rich Indigenous culture and history, but educational standards don’t always include that aspect of our past & present when learning about the history of Missions in our state. In recent years, advocates have pushed for inclusion of Native California history preceding colonization and how lives were affected by settler colonialism in the History-Social Studies framework.

If you’ve ever wondered about indigenous village sites throughout Los Angeles County, check out this map you can buy on the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians website.

For more information on the history of the ground we walk on, there’s an interview with the Tribal President of the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians, Rudy Ortega, with the Natural History Museum:

Continue along the bikeway for three miles then make a right onto Keystone St. In about six blocks, make a left onto Alameda Ave.

In 0.4 miles, or six blocks, make a right onto Beachwood Drive. Then make a left onto Riverside Drive. Stay on Riverside Drive for 1.6 miles until it ends at Zoo Drive, then make a left and you’ll be back in Griffith Park.

Griffith Park - history

As the route returns to Griffith Park, it enters another area steeped in Indigenous history. About four to five miles southwest from The Autry is Ferndell - a canyon with a spring fed stream, and the site of a Kizh/Tongva/Gabrielino village. Although Los Angeles has designated this site official Historic Resource No.112, there is little information about this site in the Historic Places LA website.

Do you have any information we can add here to inform the layers of history of this place we call home? Send us a message and let us know!

Also, if you didn’t know already, the LA River is set to get a makeover. Residents, city officials, community orgs and other stakeholders have been putting a plan together. Visit the LA River Master Plan website to learn more and find out how to stay up to date on the plan’s progress.

Cue sheet for Fat Tire & LACBC Present_
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