by: Richard Fox, Author of enCYCLEpedia Southern California
Most people think of Riverside as the home of the Mission Inn with its spectacular Mission Revival architecture, holiday festivities and Sunday brunch. But we come to Riverside to experience something else: it’s great bicycling.
The Mission Inn is the centerpiece of a restored historic downtown district that includes a 3-block long pedestrian mall, giving it a European flavor. Mount Rubidoux is a prominent landmark north of downtown, next to classic mansions in historic districts, beyond which is the Santa Ana River. Fairmount Park is east of downtown, containing beautiful Lake Evans with a mountain backdrop. All of these features can be handily explored by bike.
The upper segment of the Santa Ana River Trail (SART) runs about 19 miles from near Norco to the west to San Bernardino to the northeast, with Riverside near its midpoint. With no speed limit or road crossings, and light pedestrian traffic, it is one of the premier paths in Southern California for a good off-roadway workout. Even better, it is a scenic path, running alongside a wide natural section of the Santa Ana River drainage, with vistas of the San Gabriel and San Bernardino mountains that are often snow-covered in winter and spring. A detour off of the path takes you to the downtown district, and a surprisingly doable climb up Mt. Rubidoux on a gradual paved path reaps rewards of a spectacular vista of the surrounding region. Another path off of the SART brings you to lovely Fairmount Park.
The best time to ride here is when the air is clear and temperatures reasonable, which can occur any time of the year, though less so during the heat of summer. These rides are described in enCYCLEpedia as Ride R1, with options 1 through 4, including maps, route descriptions and particulars. Also in Riverside, the historic Victoria Avenue corridor takes you back to the glory days of citrus gold. That is a subject for a future post (enCYCLEpedia Ride R2).
At the east end of Los Angeles County, at the junction of Pomona, San Dimas and La Verne, lies Puddingstone Reservoir, a flood control and groundwater recharge facility that for decades has been a draw for its fishing, boating and swimming. It is surrounded by Frank Bonelli Regional Park and the huge Raging Waters water park, while the LA Fairgrounds (Fairplex), and Bracket Field small plane airport are adjacent.
East Shore RV Park (some tent sites too) has some 500 sites, although 300 of those are long term. Built in the hills above the lake, many sites have panoramic views of the lake and the San Gabriel Mountains.
At the lower, or “Unit F” Loop, two trailheads lead to our main attraction, a fairly easy bike route around the reservoir, with only a handful of manageable hills. It is a combination of paved lakefront promenades along the north and south sections of Bonelli Park, a scenic novice mountain bike trail, and a long easy scenic cruise across Puddingstone Dam. It is a 5-mile loop, or 8-9 miles if you opt to cycle on Class I/III roadways around the airport, perhaps stopping at Norms Hanger cafe for breakfast or lunch, a popular thing to do with cycling groups.
Bonelli Park has a lot of trails throughout, and much of it is more challenging mountain bike singletrack. For those who like to stick to roadways, there are both easy and difficult hilly options around the lake. East Shore RV Park is expensive, and is full well in advance most weekends. We take advantage of the 3-for-2 weekday special.
Cambria is an upscale jewel of a coastal community near the north end of San Luis Obispo County, and is the gateway to San Simeon, home of the fabled Heart Castle. Its historic downtown is located inland, east of Hwy 1, a popular destination for shopping and dining. The spectacular coastline is accessed along Moonstone Beach Drive, a short bike ride from the downtown. The coastal Fiscalini Ranch Preserve contains some welcome open space and provides a mile-long bike cruise on a fire road, or some hilly singletrack for mountain biking. A very pleasant ride on trails and low speed limit roads will take you to all of these Cambria highlights. Those who feel comfortable with rural road riding can amble inland up scenic Santa Rosa Creek Road to the Stolo Winery and Linn’s Fruit Stand, famous for its Olallieberry pies. The perfect way to explore the town nicknamed “Pines by the Sea” is via a two-wheeled cruise, as described in the book “enCYCLEpedia Southern California- The Best Easy Scenic Bike Rides.”
The Foothills Rail Trail is one of our favorites, located southeast of Seattle between Tacoma and Mt. Rainier, and here’s a short video with soundtrack depicting a ride on it on a beautiful late spring day. There’s great Mt Rainier views, rivers, mountains, forests, ag land, a cute town midway, Orting for lunch, good paving, and it’s busy but not crowded. It’s 15 miles long now between Puyallup and South Prairie, but someday will double in length and reach from the mountains all the way to Puget Sound at Tacoma. As described in last year’s post “The It Can Happen Tomorrow Ride” (http://wp.me/p4pOXg-8a), the trail lies in the shadow of an “episodically active” volcano.
The spectacular Oregon Coast is a worldwide destination for ambitious cyclists that brave busy and hilly US 101 for the rewards of ocean vistas, pastoral countryside, and access to many wonderful coastal towns. For the Easy Scenic Cyclist, however, there are precious few places available to explore this region by bike.
My favorite town along the coast is Yachats, the “Gem of the Oregon Coast.” It lies between Newport and Florence, just north of the spectacular Cape Perpetua coastline. Cyclists riding along Hwy 101 can pass through the town in a matter of minutes, but those of us that enjoy slower, scenic riding can linger on its waterfront gravel 804 Trail in the north (part of the Oregon Coastal Trail) and Yachats Ocean Road to the south, with the lovely village in between that offers several interesting eateries to choose from. You can spend over an hour pedaling around this town that travel guru Arthur Frommer named as his #7 travel destination in the world!
This short video gives you a feel for what it’s like to pedal around Yachats.
San Diego Bay curves gracefully around the Coronado peninsula, its entrance guarded by dramatic Point Loma where Portuguese navigator Joao Rodrigues Cabrilho landed in 1542. Along its shores are the downtown San Diego waterfront district, its port and shipyards, Naval installations, lots of private boat marinas, and some important wildlife preserves to compensate for some of the habitat that was taken away during urbanization. The downtown waterfront is a tourist center featuring the Midway aircraft carrier museum, San Diego Maritime Museum, harbor cruises, and shops and dining at Seaport Village. Coronado is famous for its beautiful ocean beaches and the Hotel del Coronado.
The sights and sounds of this area are guaranteed to fill the memory card on your camera, and the incredible choice of restaurants will fill your belly. The 26-mile Bayshore Bikeway loop circumnavigates the east finger of the bay, and is mostly flat as a pancake. The route includes one of the Southland’s only substantial rail trails, waterfront bike trails, and some yet-to-be developed sections in the port area. San Diego Trolley light rail is available to those who want a shorter route and less riding next to traffic through the industrial section. A highlight is a harbor ferry ride that transports you and your bike across the bay to complete the loop. Bikes are not allowed on the Coronado Bridge.
The Bayshore Bikeway project is a stellar example of community cooperation to provide a valuable recreation asset to its residents, neighbors, and visitors. Kudos to the cities of San Diego, Coronado, Imperial Beach, Chula Vista, and National City, and San Diego County.
Map by GObyBikeSD.com and SANDAG
The pedestrian ferry allows bikes for no extra$. From the Coronado Ferry landing boats travel to the Convention Center (next to Joe’s Crab Shack), or for a longer ride on a larger boat for the same price, to the downtown waterfront.
A moving bike statue along Coronado’s scenic waterfront path.
Short but sweet path and beach next to Hotel del Coronado.
A scenic section of the Silver Strand rail trail past a wetlands wildlife refuge that connects Coronado to Chula Vista.
On our latest ride we visited popular Emma’s Pancake House on E Street in Chula Vista near the Trolley station.
San Diego Trolley’s Blue Line travels parallel to the east side of the bay, and if you want to “cheat” a bit you can squeeze on (preferably not during rush hour) and skip as many miles through the industrial zone as you like. Some sections have bike pathways already completed, but others are pending and require an on-street bike route past ship yards. The 12th & Imperial Station is the junction of the Blue and Orange lines, and a good place to hop off to get to the MLK Rail Trail through downtown/Gaslamp Quarter/Convention Center or the waterfront pathways.
Perhaps the most popular cycling route in San Diego County is the coastal highway between Oceanside and Del Mar. On weekends and holidays hordes of cyclists zip up and down the roadway, enjoying the ocean vistas and breezes. Riding southbound, the blue Pacific is ever present on your right and wide bike lanes make the route fairly safe. The terrain is mostly flat except for a view manageable grades. Navigating through the coastal cities is a bit trickier, but they have all installed either bike lanes or sharrows to help you along, and you can often escape down side streets to get off the main road. We also tend to duck into the two State Park campgrounds that run for long distances parallel to the roadway.
Steve and I started the New Year by cycling from Oceanside to Encinitas, a casual 14 mile ride. We started by following the Rail Trail route, a 44- mile work in progress as a combination of trails and on-road bike routes. It served us well through Oceanside, however in South Carlsbad we opted to stay along the coast rather than heading inland to follow that route. We stopped at the South Carlsbad State Beach campground and watched from the seaside cliffs as dolphins surfed the waves next to the humans. Weather was sunny and brisk but perfect for cycling.
Dining choices are endless as you cycle through Carlsbad, South Carlsbad, and Encinitas, each with its own train station which is handy if you’d like to do a one-way ride. We love train travel, so it adds more fun to our bike trips. Farther along, Solana Beach has a station, but after that the next coastal station is downtown San Diego. Certain Amtrak Surfliner trains stop at all stations, but a free reservation is required to take your bike along. The local Coaster line welcomes bikes on all of its trains. Look for a car with a bike insignia, which indicates it has spaces for two bikes. The fare between Oceanside and Solana Beach is only $4 since it is considered one zone. Weekend and holiday schedules are reduced, so some advanced planning is required.
We met friends for an al fresco lunch at Lobster West in Encinitas, and started the New Year with their delicious lobster rolls. We then boarded a Coaster train and returned to Oceanside in about 20 minutes, in time for a spectacular sunset at the beach there. What a fantastic way to start the New Year!
The easy scenic cycling adventures of Richard Fox, author of the 2014 (2nd Ed 2017) guidebook "enCYCLEpedia Southern California – The Best Easy Scenic Bike Rides."