by Richard Fox
Updated January 2023.
The only sport taking off faster than bicycling in Southern California is pickleball, that wacky, fun, addicting combination of tennis, badminton, racquetball and ping pong. While popular with all ages, it’s the senior citizens that are embracing it the most enthusiastically. With courts one quarter the size of tennis courts, it has a similar feel, but with less ground to cover, and the required underhand serve is much easier on the shoulder. It is more frenetic than tennis, however, and seniors have been getting injured fairly regularly, with pulled muscles and other injuries. That’s certainly not scaring too many away though, and pickleball courts are springing up everywhere to meet the demand.
Being able to combine your pickle with an easy scenic bicycle ride makes for the perfect day, especially if you bike to an al fresco lunch or brunch afterwards. It serves as a good cross training warm up for one’s muscles as well. Or, bring your bike with you and use it as a starting point for your ride. If one of you wants to ride and the other wants to pickle, knowing which courts are close to bike rides is helpful.
Pickleball courts are springing up everywhere as the demand from the public increases, and many parks now have at least courts with temporary nets available, with many permanent courts built as well. Most are free except where clubs have been established that collect membership dues or day use fees for visitors. Many community HOA’s have private courts not open to the public. Country clubs and resorts will either have courts open exclusively to members, or offer day use for a fee. This article highlights some of SoCal’s most popular pickleball facilities available to the public with notable easy scenic bike rides nearby. The courts are mostly outdoor, although you can also find indoor courts in public recreation buildings in many cities.
The bike rides are referenced from my book enCYCLEpedia Southern California – The Best Easy Scenic Bike Rides (3rd Ed 2021) and many of the pickleball facilities are plotted on the downloadable maps available to book owners at enCYCLEpedia.net.
The Coachella Valley is overflowing with senior snowbirds starting late October, peaking in February-March-April, then fading into May through the hot summer. Year round residents still play in the hot seasons, but need to either start at the break of dawn, or try one of the several indoor public gym facilities.
Palm Springs (enCYCLEpedia Rides PS1,2,3): Demuth Park is the only game in town for outdoor play, with 12 permanent courts. It’s popular most mornings, especially Saturdays, and most late afternoons as well, making pickup games a cinch. It is located along Mesquite Blvd, east of El Cielo, along the Tahquitz Creek bike loop (PS3). In fact a new state of the art path, a CV Linker that will connect to the valley-wide CV Link path in the future, runs along Mesquite between El Cielo and Demuth Park, then adjacent to Demuth’s south perimeter (photo). There are also indoor facilities in the Demuth Park Community Gym and in North Palm Springs, with two courts at the Desert Highland Unity Center.
Rancho Mirage (Ride RM2): Two very nice new courts are located in Rancho Mirage Park along San Jacinto Dr north of The River center. This is more of a BYO player situation with no set open play times.
Palm Desert: Freedom Park is an excellent public facility with 8 courts located along Country Club Dr west of Washington. In peak season it’s easy to get a pick up game here in the mornings. There’s no specific enCYCLEpedia rides here, but it is easily accessed from other rides such as RM1,2 via the Country Club sidewalks or bike lanes. Across Country Club is Palm Desert Resorter, a private club that is the largest pickleball community in the desert, most popular with higher level players, but all levels are represented. Visitors are usually welcome for a fee. Palm Desert Community Center has a gym facility with indoor pickleball courts, available for a drop-in or modest annual fee. It is in Palm Desert Community Park, one of the highlights of Rancho Mirage/Palm Desert bike tours.
La Quinta (Rides LQ1, 2, 3): The very popular Fritz Burns Park has 8 permanent courts located at the southeast corner of Eisenhower and 52nd, a few blocks south of Old Town La Quinta, and at the base of La Quinta Cove. Even if you don’t ride to here, bring your bike and enjoy a cruise up the Bear Creek Trail afterwards, or to other La Quinta locales, with lots of Bike ‘n Brunch options available in Old Town. One day in peak winter season it was so crowded I went for a 20 minute bike ride while waiting for my paddle to come up, and still had to wait 5 minutes.
Indian Wells (Ride IW1, LQ3, PD2): The world-renowned Indian Wells Tennis Garden offers pickleball drop-in play several days a week ($10). Either ride in on the paths off of Warner Trail to the west entrance bike racks, or if that entrance is not available, such as during special events, ride around on the north service road to the main entrance off of Washington to the bike racks across from the box office. The National Pickleball Championships are held in November and the BNP Paribas tennis classic is in March.
Big Bear Lake (Ride BB1, BB3) SoCal’s four season playground in the San Bernardino Mountains is the home of Snow Summit, the largest ski area in SoCal, which converts to a mountain bike park in summer. Winter brings cold weather and snow, and summer boasts beautiful sunny weather, a welcome respite from the heat of the lowlands. Monsoons with thunderstorms develop periodically, but they usually wait until after morning pickleball sessions. Spring and fall can bring the mixed bag that the 7,000 foot elevation dictates. Alpine Pedal Path is a beautiful 2.5-mile paved path along the lake’s northeast shore connecting most of the area’s campgrounds and RV resorts. It connects to new bike paths across the Stanfield Cutoff, and along Big Bear Blvd to Sandalwood (behind the Vons). Other on-road bike routes on side streets are marked around town, and in the future the Rathbun Creek corridor will contain a path from the lake to near Bear Mtn Ski area — a 1-mile section is completed from behind the Sizzler to near the new zoo location.
The active and friendly Big Bear Pickleball Club plays outdoors seasonally Monday, Wednesday and Saturday mornings at Erwin Ranch Recreation Center, located on Hwy 38 on the way out of town, east of the Sugarloaf neighborhood ($3 visitor fee, $20 membership). A bike route weaves through the east side of Big Bear, requiring a short stint on a dirt road, past the famous wild burros, to reach it from the main part of town. Another venue is Meadows Park, located along the southeast shore of the lake, easily accessible via pleasant bike routes. The city built four permanent courts on a tennis court here, and club members play here on their alternate days, with no fees for visitors. I have enjoyed many fabulous days combining pickleball at Meadows Park with a cycle along the lake on the Alpine Pedal Path in perfect summer weather.
SAN DIEGO COUNTY
Coronado (Ride SD7): This is one of the ultimate bike ‘n pickle places, with scenic flat Coronado for great riding, and two pickleball options. The Coronado Marriott has six good permanent courts and two temporary courts. Check for open play mornings ($6), frequently Monday and Thursday. Otherwise it’s open to be booked by the court for $24. Fees include 2-hour validated parking. The waterfront bike trail passes nearby as well, about ¼-mile south of the ferry landing from downtown San Diego, so even if you don’t ride to here, bring your bike by all means. You can go for a short jaunt, a cruise down the Silver Strand rail trail (aka Bayshore Bikeway), or book it all the way around the bay using the ferry to return. The other facility consists of 8 courts in Coronado Cays Park, located along the Bayshore Bikeway across from Silver Strand State Beach, just south of Loews resort. The city converts 2 tennis courts to 8 pickleball courts with temporary lines. Open play fees are $9 ($6 residents) Wednesdays and Saturdays. You can join an organization that is lobbying for permanent courts in Coronado.
Santee (Ride SD12): There’s a paucity of outdoor public pickleball in south San Diego County, so Big Rock Park‘s 8 permanent courts can get crowded at peak times. From here you can easily ride to the east entrance of Mission Trails Regional Park, west on Mission Gorge Road, without having to ride up and over the big hill to the main entrance. Mountain bikes give you the most options here. There are also trailheads at Big Rock Park itself into another section of the park, mostly for hiking though. Although not along bike routes, 8 popular new courts at Mackenzie Creek Park in east Chula Vista is only a few miles from Sweetwater Summit Regional Park, which is accessible via paved and dirt trails from San Diego Bay at National City.
Encinitas: Bobby Riggs Racket and Paddle Club (drop-in’s welcome ($7) has 12 courts featuring clinics, lessons and organized play. However, it is over a mile inland from the coastal route (SDC1) in south Encinitas, at 875 Santa Fe Dr, with a so-so busy class 2 road to access it by bike. You could always bring your bike, then afterwards drive to the coast for that very scenic ride. Or take your bike on the Coaster and ride to the club.
Carlsbad: (Ride SDC1) Poinsettia Community Park in Carlsbad has 6 new state of the art open-play permanent courts with no fee. From South Carlsbad State Beach, ride east up Poinsettia Road. After I-5 turn left on Paseo Del Norte, right on Camino de las Ondas, left on Hidden Valley Rd to the park on the left at #6600. This route is hilly but bike-friendly. Very crowded on weekends.
Also in Carlsbad, St. Michaels by-the-Sea Church near town center has two popular drop in courts, 2 blocks from the ocean. Enter off Beech west of Carlsbad Blvd. $4 donation ($2 members, $30/year). Open play days/times or reservations, see website. Along Ride SDC-1.
Oceanside (Ride OC1): Melba Bishop Recreation Center in east Oceanside is a very popular facility, with 11 courts used by members Mon-Sat mornings ($3 guests). It’s free to the public at other times. It can be reached from the fabulous San Luis Rey River Trail at the College Ave crossing. It’s across the river, then back to the east on North River Road. Ride to the beach in 8 miles from here, and in the afternoon, the breeze will most likely be with you heading inland to the courts.
San Marcos : Innovation Park has 4 popular permanent courts at 1151 Armorlite Dr. (No fee). Courts are open daily but for drop in try the designated mornings. The Inland Rail Trail (Ride SMR2) runs near the park, and there is a Sprinter train station nearby, which runs between Oceanside and Escondido. The rail trail is accessible from bike routes around Cal State San Marcos and the city’s bike trail system (Ride SMR1).
San Diego Come on San Diego, you should be included in this list already. A stalwart advocacy group has been fighting to get permanent courts somewhere in the city, with the most likely candidate now being on or near the tennis courts at Robb Field in Ocean Beach, along the San Diego River bike path (Ride SD3) with easy access to the Mission Bay loop ride (SD1). Currently San Diego Pickleball sets up 8 courts at Pacific Beach Tennis Club for foursomes ($32/court) with reservations, no drop in. It is located adjacent to the northeast corner of the Mission Bay loop ride (SD1).
San Clemente (Rides DP1, SC1, 2, 3, SJ1): The active San Clemente pickleball community plays at San Gorgonio Park, up a big hill, which is no biggee if you have an e-bike. From El Camino Real at the San Clemente – Dana Point border, head up Camino Capistrano, and make your way UP Vaquero and Calle Vista Torito to the park in less than a mile. Don’t miss out on bike riding here, though, as trails connect from San Clemente through Dana Point to eastern San Juan Capistrano.
San Juan Capistrano and Dana Point (Ride SJ1) At the northeast end of the San Juan Creek bike path at Ortega Hwy and Antonio Pkwy are the four permanent courts at Sendero Field, operated by the Rancho Mission Viejo HOA. The public is invited to play Saturday mornings and other times as described. You can park here, play some games, then ride all the way to the beach at Dana Point and San Clemente on a paved path. Or continue on to the public courts at San Gorgonio Park. Along the San Juan Creek Trail (photo) in Dana Point is Del Obispo Park which has several temporary courts near the Senior Center.
Laguna Beach (Ride LB1) Alta Laguna Park in the Top of the World district has 3 permanent courts, plus additional temporary courts. Bike around this area with fabulous views of the ocean and Aliso & Wood Canyons Park. Make a tricky connection to the Arch Beach Heights District along an ultra scenic but hilly fire road. Lang Park down on PCH and Wesley near the Montage resort has temporary courts available. I don’t bike on PCH in Laguna.
Laguna Niguel (near Rides SV1, 2, 3, 4): Laguna Niguel Regional Park has four permanent drop in courts, but no organized play. Ride SV2 connects that park with Salt Creek Beach via a hilly route. SV2 also connects to the Aliso Creek Regional Trail (SV1) and Aliso & Wood Canyons road and mountain bike area (SV3,4). Perhaps drop off a non-pickling cyclist at the north end of SV1 (Aliso Creek Trail) at Cooks Corner and they can cruise all the way down to meet or join you. Many of the more advanced players in this area have joined the Nellie Gail pickleball club, not near our bike rides.
Irvine (New Ride IR3): The new Portola Springs Community Park in the Great Park district of northeast Irvine has 6 lighted pickleball courts with no fee. By bike take Portola Pkwy northeast from Sand Canyon (side trail or bike lane) to Pearblossom. Turn left on the road or take paths up to the park. This is a fairly hilly but not daunting route, though e-bikers will be happiest. There are also nine hybrid tennis and pickleball courts in Irvine located at at Heritage, Knollcrest, Los Olivos, San Carlo, and University Community Parks, most near Irvine bike routes.
Tustin (Near Rides IR1, TU1): The active Tustin Pickleball Club ($75/year membership) plays on 10 courts at a school facility Mon-Sat 7-10 am at 1302 Service Road. At other times the courts are open to the public with no fee. The closest enCYCLE ride of note is TU1-3, the Mountains to the Sea ride, but the connection to the courts is not the greatest. From Harvard in Irvine take Class II Edinger northwest, past the Metrolink Station. Turn right on Red Hill and a quick left on Service Road.
Fountain Valley (Ride FV1): Pickleball is offered at the Fountain Valley Tennis Courts by Agape Pickleball at the north end of Mile Square Park every day ($fees vary). Also access the park via a one mile on-road connection from the the Santa Ana River Trail (SAR1) that begins at the Huntington Beach bike path (HB1).
Huntington Beach (RIdes HB1, 2): Four free outdoor lighted permanent courts hosted by Surf City Pickleball are located at Worthy Community Park, 1801 Main Street (at 17th Street). From the fabulous Huntington Beach coastal trail (HB1), take the bike route up 17th Street for less than a mile to the park. The August annual Surf City Pickleball Tournament is located at Murdy Park on temporary courts set up for that purpose, and is not as good to combine with a cycle, although you can access the pleasant paths around Huntington Beach Central Park (Ride HB2) via road or sidewalk from there. The newest facility is at Golden West College, with 24 lighted courts, morning or evening sessions ($5 drop in fee or memberships available), however it is only accessible via several miles of bike lanes on Golden West Blvd from the beach.
LOS ANGELES COUNTY
Hermosa Beach: Located a few blocks from the South Bay Beach trail, the four courts here are crowded, competitive, and subject to prior reservation by city residents. From The Strand (Ride LA2) take 8th or 10th Streets east toward the Kelly Courts off Valley Drive. Don’t come here to just pickle with one of the best, most scenic bike trails in the country a few blocks away.
Los Angeles There are no stellar pickle/bike combos in LA. Here is a summary of where courts are. Pending are fee-based courts at Balboa Sports Complex, along our Sepulveda Dam Rec Area paths ride (LA5). In Burbank, the four Maxam Park Courts at Hollywood Way and Pacific Ave (open play every day) are 1.5 miles north of the Chandler Bikeway (LA7).
Long Beach and Seal Beach Some of the best easy scenic cycling is around Long Beach and you can combine it with a pickle at the three waterfront Bayshore courts at 54th Place and Ocean Blvd during open play 8am-12pm Mon, Wed, Fri and Sun. It is at the junction of rides LO1 along the beach to downtown and the Queen Mary and LO2 through Naples Island to Seal Beach. Also, From the San Gabriel River Trail (SGR1) you can take the south Spring St sidewalk across the river to El Dorado Tennis Center for open play Tues & Thur 8-11am and Fri 6-9pm ($5). Or, from the Belmont Shore area (LO2) ride north from Marine Stadium to Billy Jean King Tennis Center with drop in play Sat & Sun 2-6pm ($5).
In Seal Beach (Ride SE1) four new permanent courts are in Marina Park open all the time for free open play. It is located at the corner of Marina Dr and 1st St, a block from the San Gabriel River Trail (SGR1) and the bridge to Long Beach (LO2). Seal Beach is actually in Orange County.
Santa Clarita: The main pickleball facility is at Bouquet Canyon Park, located about 2.75 miles northeast from the Santa Clara River bike path (up Class II Bouquet Canyon to Urbandale). It is always available for open play with no fee.
Ventura and Ojai: Ventura is one of the best places for SoCal easy scenic cycling between its beach paths (VE1, VE4) and its rail trails inland to Ojai (VE2, VE3). There’s not a lot to pickle about yet, but Harry A. Lyon Park offers Sat 9am-12pm and Thurs 3:30pm-dusk open play and is located a few blocks off of the Ventura River rail trail (VE3). Juanamaria Park, that has Sun & Thurs afternoons available is not near the bike paths.
Ojai has four dedicated courts located near City Hall a block south of the rail trail (VE3) via Ventura St. It is all open play with no fee and morning and afternoon sessions, but “green zone” quiet paddles are required, and the city has some for lend. You can bike up from Ventura on the rail trails, play some games if you arrive at the right time, have lunch since the courts are closed mid-day anyway, and enjoy a mostly downhill cruise on the way back.
Simi Valley: The Arroyo Simi Bike Path aka Greenway extends along the wash about 6.5 miles between Madera Rd (south of Easy St) east to Cochran Ave (between Fig and Ralston Streets). Of the three public pickleball facilities, only Duck Park at Rancho Simi Community Park is located near the path at 1765 Royal Ave at Erringer Rd, with six dedicated courts available every day. The other locations with dedicated courts are farther away in the city; Lemon Park at Rancho Tapo Community Park, 3700 Avenida Simi (4 permanent, 2 shared, open everyday) and Sinaloa Middle School, 301 Royal Ave, with 12 permanent courts available Sat & Sun.
SANTA BARBARA COUNTY
Santa Barbara: The active Santa Barbara facility ($5 fee) is situated adjacent to the noisy 101 freeway. From the beach trail (Ride SB1) take Cabrillo Blvd east, under the freeway and just past the ramps (caution through here!) look for a short paved path across the road and before the traffic circle that cuts up to Old Coast Hwy. Ride left on the sidewalk (or bike lane across the road) for a mile to the first left on Park Place to the 12 dedicated courts.
SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY
Pismo Beach (Ride PB3): Palisades Tennis Courts at 3990 Shell Beach Rd in Shell Beach/Pismo Beach has four popular free pickleball courts with an ocean view. Along the Class II / Class I scenic north Pismo Beach bike routes near Avila Beach. E-bikers will enjoy the routes that go back and forth to the cliffside coastline. Private Pismo Beach Athletic Club near downtown and all PB rides has four courts and offers a $10 day pass.
Morro Bay (Ride MB1): Four very nice permanent courts ($1 fee) are located in Del Mar Park. From the north end of town, cross Hwy 1 either on Yerba Buena or Sycamore. Ride on Class II Main Street right or left (respectively) to Island Street. Ride UP the hill a couple blocks to road’s end and turn right to the park. Take the park path over to the courts on the right.
Cambria (Ride CA1): Cambria’s six excellent courts are at the Old Cambria Grammar School, 1350 Main St, between the east and west villages on the west side of the road. The venue is popular with upper-level players but all are welcome ($3 guest fee in AM, free in PM, memberships available).
San Luis Obispo: Although not on a best featured ride, bike paths run through French Park, where the city’s permanent courts are located, then through nearby neighborhood greenbelts and Islay Park. Temporary courts are set up at Meadow Park, which has bike paths and an on-road connection to the rail trail that starts at the Amtrak station.
Claremont (Ride CL1, PET): The Pacific Electric rail trail starts in Claremont and runs about 21 miles east through Montclair, Upland, Rancho Cucamonga and Fontana ending in Rialto. It is serviced by Metrolink trains. About 1 mile south of town and the enCYCLE bike routes, locals play at Wheeler Park’s 5 lighted courts with permanent nets, open every day, morning through evening. Find bike lanes south on College and west on San Jose.
Rancho Cucamonga (Ride PET) Red Hill Park has three new permanent courts. From the Pacific Electric Trail exit onto Vineyard and take it a few blocks north to the park. There’s also temporary courts at Rancho Cucamonga Sports Center, located on Rochester 1.5 miles south of the PET.
Riverside (Ride R2) From the historic Victoria Ave citrus country bike ride, Riverside Pickleball hosts play at Shamel Courts with established play times, 1 mile north on Mary St then Brockton St under CA91; and at Viegas Community Center, 3091 Esperanza St, temporary courts, a half mile to the north of Victoria Ave via Madison St then east.