Blessed with breathtaking views, moderate terrain, and excellent weather, Southern California is the perfect place for cyclists. However, with so many scenic bike trails, it can be difficult to narrow down the ones that would be right for you. To make things easier, we came up with a list of our top 10 bike routes to add to your itinerary.
Diamond Bar - Sycamore Canyon Park
This hidden gem in Diamond Bar has several pleasant trails for beginning riders. Not only is this trail fun and scenic, it’s also kid- and dog-friendly. There is also a nearby stream for cyclists who want to stop for a quick picnic break—perfect for a day trip with the family.
Topanga - Topanga Canyon State Park
Part of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, this Topanga park is great for all levels of riders, although the more extreme cyclists might find the trail a bit too easy. With plenty of natural open space, rugged terrain, and a variety of wildlife, you often forget that you’re still very close to the city. For more advanced riders, take the fire roads on Sullivan Ridge, Westridge, or Canyonback.
Malibu - Malibu Creek State Park
A popular place for hikers and adrenaline junkies, Malibu Creek State Park isn’t just calm rock pools for cliff-jumping—it also has several lesser-known trails for mountain bikers. There’s even a bike loop for beginners that intersects with the famous Back Bone trail.
Chino Hills - Chino Hills State Park
Located at the foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains in Chino Hills near Yorba Linda, the bike trails here are perfect for intermediate riders. However, this park is in a smog belt, so the best seasons to visit are during the winter and early spring. The expansive, hilly area is blanketed by grass and also provides splendid views of the San Bernardino Mountains.
El Monte - San Gabriel River Bicycle Path
The grandfather of all bike trails, this 60-mile path in El Monte gives you a tour of many scenic areas throughout Los Angeles County. Enjoy a relaxing ride next to the San Gabriel River and San Jose Creek, while also getting in a good outdoor workout. Popular access points include Foothill San Gabriel River, Santa Fe Dam, Santa Fe Springs Park, and The Angeles National Forest. Parking is a bit tough, but this can be avoided by taking public transit.
La Jolla - The Fay Avenue Bike Path
This historic path is run by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, a nonprofit organization working to create beautiful trails from the former railroad lines. Fay Avenue is the only bike path in San Diego County, along with South Bay's Silver Strand Bike Path, which is built on an abandoned railroad. Be prepared to enjoy views of the Pacific Ocean’s sweeping vistas, abundant trees and greenery, and magnificent homes in La Jolla.
Bakersfield - The Kern River Parkway Trail
Locals are proud to call this bike trail a “treasure” of Bakersfield. This 28-mile path runs along the Kern River from Alfred Harrell Highway in the northeast to Enos Lane in the southwest. Not only does the city prioritize keeping the trail clean, visitors can also spot plenty of wildlife in the area including coyotes, rabbits, roadrunners, and different kinds of birds.
Marina Del Rey - Marvin Braude Bike Trail
Also known as The Strand by Angelenos, this 22-mile bike trail stretches from Will Rogers State Beach in Pacific Palisades to Torrance County Beach. Though it gets a bit more crowded during the weekends, you can still enjoy a leisurely cruise along the path. Expect to pass by a number of beach communities including Santa Monica, Venice, Manhattan, and Redondo.
San Bernardino - Mount Baldy Road Climb
Listed as one of the nation’s most difficult bike trails, this San Bernardino route is not for the faint of heart.
With a steep climb and varying weather as you travel farther up the mountain, it’s no wonder this trail is considered a rite of passage for extreme cyclists in California. Be sure to check the weather, pack plenty of food and water, and bring along a camera before your bike trip. It will take at least a few hours to complete this bike trail.
San Juan Capistrano - Ronald W. Caspers Wilderness Park
This bike trail is surprisingly “wild” considering that it’s located nearby the swanky city of Laguna Beach. With a number of lush green and mellow fire road trails, this path is great for intermediate riders. Although you will immediately notice many warning signs about mountain lions, actually coming across one is highly unlikely and shouldn’t deter you from completing this trail.