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The Best Bike Trails in California
Health & Fitness

The Best Bike Trails in California

From forested dirt trails to paved beachside pathways, these are the best California bike rides to add to your itinerary.


5 min read

January 05, 2021

It doesn’t get much better than pedaling past stunning ocean vistas, through fragrant forests, and over undulating hills while soaking up the sun and feeling the breeze blow through your hair—where oh where, could this cyclist’s paradise be? The Golden State, of course. Whether you’re preparing for a prestigious cycling race or just looking to explore a leisurely pathway, the best bike trails in California have plenty to offer. 

The Best Bike Rides in California

With varying terrains and endless scenic views, California has something for every type of cyclist. From forested dirt trails made for mountain biking to paved beachside pathways perfect for laid-back excursions, these are the best California bike rides to add to your itinerary.

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The Best Bike Rides in Southern California

Enjoy views of Southern California's shimmering shores while exploring these scenic bike trails.

The Beach Bike Trails in Southern California

Bayshore Bikeway (Silver Strand) Trail

Location: Broadway Pier-Coronado Ferry, 1020 Harbor Drive, San Diego

Level of difficulty: Easy-moderate

Distance: 24 miles

Route: Out and back

One of the best beach rides in California offers a long, palm-tree-lined trail with stunning views of the Pacific, San Diego Bay, and downtown San Diego skyline. This easygoing, partially paved bike trail is an enjoyable experience for cyclists of all levels. Depending on the route you follow, you might bike past the beautiful fields of the Coronado Golf Course and come across the historic Hotel del Coronado, whose signature red roof you might recognize from Marilyn Monroe’s classic film Some Like it Hot. You’ll also encounter many public parks, cafes, beaches, and other rest stops along this top San Diego bike trail, so completing it in one breath isn’t necessary.

2. West Oceanfront Trail to the Huntington Beach Bike Trail

Location: Newport Beach

Level of difficulty: Easy

Distance: 12.8 miles

Route: Point to point

It's always a good idea to visit SoCal's paradise: Orange County. One of the top free things to do in the O.C. is to pedal along the West Oceanfront Trail to the Huntington Beach Bike Trail, the best beach bike path in Orange County. This moderately trafficked, point-to-point route starts near Newport Beach and offers some of the best oceanside views found along California bike trails. Keep in mind that it might be a bit busy—the path is popular among families with small children, skaters, runners, and beachgoers. There are many activities to enjoy on your journey, so make sure you set aside enough time to enjoy the beaches, parks, restaurants, and shops along the way.

The Best Bike Routes in Los Angeles County 

Hop on your bike and pedal along the Ballona Creek Bike Path, making sure to marvel at the scenery along the way.

3. Ballona Creek Bike Path

Location: Marina Del Rey

Level of difficulty: Easy

Distance: 13.7 miles

Route: Out and back

This bike route allows you to enjoy miles of smooth pavement without having to drive too far away from downtown Los Angeles. Stretching from Marina Del Rey to Culver City and bordering the namesake creek, the Ballona Creek bike path offers one of the best beginner trails in California. The moderately trafficked trail is mostly flat, with a few inclines and descents that will keep you on your toes. You’ll pass through residential neighborhoods and then cross over into the Ballona wetlands—it's all about the scenic vistas and wildlife viewing. Bonus: Your on-leash pooch can accompany you on this path, too.

4. Chandler Bikeway

Location: Burbank

Level of difficulty: Easy

Distance: 5.6 miles

Route: Out and back

A local favorite and hidden jewel nestled in a quiet SoCal neighborhood, Chandler Bikeway is one of the best bike routes near Los Angeles. What used to be a railroad track that ran through Burbank is now a paved pathway that accommodates cyclists, joggers, and pedestrians. Looming trees and vibrant flowerbeds line the trail, making it a beautiful place to take pictures in the L.A. area. Cyclists are also blown away by the collection of murals adorning the sides of the buildings between Clybourn Avenue and the trail’s end in North Hollywood. Local artists have done a terrific job of tastefully decorating this Los Angeles trail, which makes Chandler Bikeway one of the best bike trails in California.

The Best Bike Trails in Northern California

Admire the azure waters of Lake Tahoe while traversing the region on two wheels.

The Best Lakeside Bike Trails in NorCal

5. South Lake Tahoe Bike Trail

Location: South Lake Tahoe

Level of difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 10.9 miles

Route: Loop

Skiing, kayaking, hiking, fishing, and snowboardingwhat other activities make South Lake Tahoe a prime destination for outdoor adventures? Cycling, of course. The scenic South Lake Tahoe Trail is one of the most popular biking spots in the region for good reason. This tranquil path is all about the beautiful lake and forest views. The mostly paved route makes for a relaxing ride. As one of the best bike trails in California, the South Lake Tahoe Trail gives you a chance to escape your busy NorCal lifestyle and connect with nature along the breathtaking, tree-lined pathways. You definitely want to check it out on your next visit to South Lake Tahoe.

6. Lake Almanor Recreation Trail

Location: Lassen County

Level of difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 19 miles

Route: Out and back

Lake Almanor Recreation Trail is a true hidden gem in Northern California. Lightly trafficked throughout the year, this quaint and quiet path near Canyon Dam is accessible year-round and is easy to love. Allocate some extra time if you’re planning to wrap up this lakeside ride before sundown—you’ll want to stop and stare at the scenic views more than once along the way. The trail winds through a mixed conifer forest with spectacular vistas of Lake Almanor, Dyer Mountain, and Lassen Peak. You’ll also want to keep an eye out for wildlife; you may see bald eagles, osprey, and goshawk. Think things can’t get better? You can also bring your four-legged friend along this top bike trail in Northern California near Lassen Volcanic National Park.

The Best Bike Rides in the Bay Area

For one of the best bike rides in the Bay, head to Angel Island and take in the views of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco Bay.

7. Angel Island Perimeter Loop

Location: Angel Island State Park

Level of difficulty: Easy

Distance: 6 miles

Route: Loop

If you thought you’ve seen the City of San Francisco from every available vantage point, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. Angel Island serves a tranquil retreat offering magnificent San Francisco Bay and Mount Tamalpais views. Despite being one of the best bike trails in Northern California, the Angel Island Perimeter Loop is relatively easy and is among the must-ride bike routes in S.F. The pathway also features wheelchair-accessible picnic tables, year-round access, a restaurant, a museum, and a bus tour. The island itself is rich in history, too, so keep an eye out for informational signs as you explore the land on two wheels.

8. Sequoia Bayview Trail

Location: Oakland

Level of difficulty: Easy

Distance: 2.8 miles

Route: Loop

The Sequoia Bayview Trail is one of the most popular bike paths at Joaquin Miller Park as well as one of the best bike trails Northern California has to offer. This wide, flat trail is heavily trafficked most of the time, so be prepared to bike alongside joggers, mountain bikers, and dog walkers who have also picked this laid-back trail for its lack of elevation gain. On your ride, you can admire the redwoods and other trees towering above you. If you want to keep the adventure going, the Sequoia Bayview Trail connects to many other routes, so you can easily jump on another path and see where it takes you. 

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