Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Ride & Play


Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area is a large flood control basin that straddles the San Gabriel River as it descends from the San Gabriel Mountains into the valley near Irwindale.

The more than 800 acres here feature a large lake for fishing and paddling, a nature center, picnic areas with barbeque pits, playground structures, and miles of smooth, flat biking trails. In the summer, you can swim in a water play area.

We recently spent a Sunday morning biking the top of the dam, then played in the park/picnic area.

A ride atop the dam affords great views of the San Gabriel Mountains. (My son preferred the views of the 210 & 605 Freeways.) I also enjoyed watching a gorgeous white-tailed kite fluttering and diving down on rodents.

Well-maintained, smooth trails--perfect for little kids on their own bikes--skirt the lake. Slightly older kids can also ride the dam top. One note: there is no shade atop the dam, so I would not ride here midday in summer. Trails around the lake are shadier.

We plan to return for swimming, fishing, bird-watching, and chilling.

From May to October, there is a fat $10 fee to drive into the recreation area. (No charge the rest of the year.) But it's money well spent; the park is well maintained.

For more dam biking, try Hansen Dam.

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