Category Archives: RV

An LA Urban Oasis – Puddingstone Reservoir Camp ‘n Brunch ‘n Ride

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.

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View of lake and dam from our site at C Loop of East Shore RV Park.
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Path leading from Unit F along east side of lake.
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Path winding along southeast shore of lake.
Scenic mountain bike trails on west side of reservoir.
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Long flat road over Puddingstone Dam.
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Nice promenade along north section of Bonelli Park.
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Closed road next to Bracket Field leads back to Unit F of the campground. Norm’s Hanger is a popular spot to park/stage from, and have an al fresco meal on the patio watching the small planes take off and land.

Cape Disappointment State Park, WA Camp ‘n Ride

Video Diary, by Richard Fox

Cape Disappointment State Park is a gem, situated at the southwest corner of Washington State near Long Beach, where the Columbia River empties into the Pacific Ocean. A jetty built in 1917 to aid in shipping navigation resulted in the formation of most of the land comprising the lowlands of the park, including the campgrounds and the beautiful sandy ocean beach. Dramatic Cape Disappointment and North Head lighthouses stand sentinel over the entrance to the Columbia and the region known as “The Graveyard of the Pacific” because of the over 2,000 shipwrecks that have occurred in this area.

This very popular park near the resort area of Long Beach contains a large campground for RV’s with hookups or tents. We explored the park by bike, riding along the firm sands of the beach, then up past “Waikiki Beach” and several installations of the Confluence Project, which features structures replicating those used by Native Americans. The return ride is through the idyllic park road for a total of about 5.5 very scenic and flat miles.

Following is a video of our experience from May 2016.

Those wanting more of a challenge can ride on the hilly roadways to the two lighthouses.

Nearby is the 8.5 mile Discovery bike/hike Trail, that runs mostly behind sand dunes and through forest between Ilwaco and Long Beach, skirting the State Park but not connecting to the park’s flat coastal section.  We will be exploring that trail on our next visit to the area.  In the meantime, here is a nice description of it:  http://outdoorsnw.com/2012/escapes-long-beach-wash/

New Years Day San Diego Coast Bike ‘n Brunch ‘n Rail

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!

Class II biking along the coast highway in Carlsbad.
Class II biking along the coast highway in Carlsbad.
Rich along Coast Highway near Carlsbad.
Rich along Coast Highway near Carlsbad.
View from Coast Highway.
View from Coast Highway.
Campers at South Carlsbad State Beach, a great Camp 'n Ride destination. Expensive and no hookups though.
Campers at South Carlsbad State Beach, a great Camp ‘n Ride destination. Expensive and no hookups though.  We watched as dolphins surfed the waves and chased fish while pelicans tried to grab them. 
Meeting with good friends for lunch in Encinitas.
Meeting with good friends for lunch at Lobster West in Encinitas.
Closeup of Lobster West's delicious lobster roll.
Closeup of Lobster West’s delicious lobster roll.
Steve awaits the Coaster train at Encinitas station. It's only $4 fare to Oceanside.
Steve awaits the Coaster train at Encinitas station. It’s only $4 fare to Oceanside.
View from the Coaster window.
View from the Coaster window.
Steve emerges from the Coaster car. Note the bike insignia. There was a space for our two bikes on this car.
Steve emerges from the Coaster car. Note the bike insignia. There was space for our two bikes on this car.
Returning to Oceanside. Steve with the pier beyond.
Returning to Oceanside. Steve with the pier beyond.
Sunset at Oceanside beach.
Sunset at Oceanside beach.

 

Homolovi Camp ‘n Ride – A Hidden Northern AZ Gem

Located in expansive grasslands at 4,900 feet elevation near Winslow, Arizona along I-40, Homolovi State Park preserves the 14th century ruins of the Anasazi people that thrived along the Little Colorado River.   A scenic campground with RV hookups ($25) makes a great base to explore this lightly visited park by bike.   Park roads provide inspiring vistas of the surrounding Colorado Plateau and the San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff to the west.  The gentle grades and wide open viewscapes create a template for an enjoyable easy ride of 10-15 miles. Expansion cracks found at regular intervals of the pavement will be better suited to those with wider tires, until repairs are completed.  The two major sites are Homolovi I, about a mile ride from the campground, (followed by a 1/4-mile hike), and the more scenic Homolovi II, about 5 miles away followed by a short paved rideable trail to the sites.  The ruins are not as well preserved as others in the region.

Campground with spacious sites and panoramic vistas.
Campground with spacious sites and panoramic vistas.
Little used park roads for scenic rides of up to 18 miles. Better for fatter tires because of frequent stress fractures.
Little used park roads are perfect for scenic rides of up to 15 miles — better for fatter tires because of frequent stress fractures. Watch for snakes!
Kiva at Homolovi II ruins. Most of the ruins are now piles of rubble, compared to other more preserved sites.
Kiva at Homolovi II ruins. Most of the ruins are now piles of rubble.
Sunset, looking west to San Francisco Peaks from campground.
Sunset, looking west to San Francisco Peaks from campground.

Cycle the Exciting Long Beach, California Waterfront and Beyond

Long Beach is a SoCal star when it comes to bicycle advocacy and infrastructure, Silver-rated by the League of American Bicyclists. As far as easy scenic cycling goes, coastal Class I trails provide a ton of excitement, interesting vistas, and even some good exercise where bikes and peds are given their separate lanes. For more cycling fun connect via bike-friendly surface streets to the Belmont Shore district, the very Italian Naples Island with its canals, and the laid back beach town of Seal Beach, with the option of riding along Pacific Coast Highway to reach the great Huntington Beach trail along the sand. Also available for a good workout are somewhat less scenic river trails up the Los Angeles River (the LARIO trail) from Long Beach and the preferred San Gabriel River Trail from Seal Beach.

The annual Tour of Long Beach event with several levels of rides benefits pediatric cancer and starts along the downtown Long Beach waterfront. Next event: May, 2016. enCYCLEpedia Southern California had its book launch at the finish line festival in 2014.

Trail near Shoreline Village in Long Beach affords fabulous vistas including the Queen Mary.
Trail near Shoreline Village in Long Beach affords fabulous vistas including the Queen Mary.
Bike trail passes the Long Beach Marina.
Bike trail passes the Long Beach Marina.
The 3.2-mile beach trail has a separated pedestrian lane for smoother travel.
The 3.2-mile beach trail has a separated pedestrian lane for smoother travel.
Cycling toward Shoreline Village and its great selection of waterfront restaurants.
Cycling toward Shoreline Village and its great selection of waterfront restaurants.
One of the THUM oil islands, Island Grissom, adjacent to a bike trail.
One of the THUM oil islands, Island Grissom, as seen from a waterfront bike trail.
A trail though Harry Bridges Park leads to the Queen Mary.  Expect lots of trail improvements on the Queen Mary side of the channel in the future, which is accessible from the Shoreline area via a separated bike path along the Queensway Bridge.
A trail though Harry Bridges Park leads to the Queen Mary. A number of additional trails are planned for the Queen Mary side of the channel in the future, which is accessible from the Shoreline area via a separated bike path along the Queensway Bridge.
Trails wind around and up to the lighthouse at Shoreline Aquatic Park. Enjoy great vistas of downtown and the Queen Mary from the top of the knoll.
Trails wind around and up to the lighthouse at Shoreline Aquatic Park. Enjoy great vistas of downtown and the Queen Mary from the top of the knoll.
Busy area along the trail near the Aquarium of the Pacific.
Busy area along the trail near the Aquarium of the Pacific.
The trail passes Golden Shore Reserve and Golden Shore RV Park.
The trail passes Golden Shore Reserve and Golden Shore RV Park.
Naples Island is a delight to explore by bike.
Naples Island is a delight to explore by bike.
Cycle for miles up the Los Angeles River and the LARIO (Los Angeles/Rio Hondo Rivers) path, but scenic value tends to decrease as you leave the coast, and it also passes some areas known for higher crime.
Cycle for miles up the Los Angeles River and the LARIO (Los Angeles/Rio Hondo Rivers) path, but scenic value tends to decrease as you leave the coast, and it also passes some areas known for higher crime.

Oceanside – North San Diego County’s Cycling Gem

Of the places that I cycled while doing the research for enCYCLEpedia, Oceanside was one of the biggest surprises.  In fact, for an easy scenic cycling destination, it had enough great features to earn the highest 4 star rating.  The highlight is the 9-mile San Luis Rey River Trail that mostly follows a levee along its banks. Reach it from Pacific Street just southeast of Oceanside Harbor, or from the northwest end of Cleveland Street (west on Neptune) downtown. Like most SoCal rivers you won’t see much water in the San Luis Rey most of the year, but it traverses a lovely riparian corridor through a low density residential valley.

San Luis Rey River Trail, looking north.
San Luis Rey River Trail, looking north

There’s no speed limit on the trail, so you can get a great workout as long you’re careful around pedestrians.  On-shore breezes can make your return strenuous, typically more towards afternoon.  A highlight about halfway along the path is the Mission San Luis Rey de Francia, the largest in California, accessed via a detour south on Douglas Drive.

Mission San Luis Rey de Francia
Mission San Luis Rey de Francia

Guajome County Park, just past the east end of the trail, has camping, dirt trails, lakes, and facilities. Mance Buchanan Park at College contains the only other facilities.

Guajome County Park.
Guajome County Park

The delta near the southwest trailhead is a beautiful tidal region with plenty of shore birds to watch.

Delta of the San Luis Rey River.
Delta of the San Luis Rey River

Oceanside Harbor and its enticing nautical village is a great place to stop for a meal on your ride, and then perhaps cycle the 1.5 mile road around the harbor.

Oceanside Harbor.
Oceanside Harbor

Saving the best for last, you can take Class II Pacific Street south, and make a right on Breakwater that leads to The Strand along Oceanside’s beautiful beach and pier.

The Strand, north end.
The Strand, north end

The 2-mile ride along the beach is best done when not crowded because of the odd mix of one way slow vehicle traffic and two-way bike lanes.  On a beautiful day, though, the cruise is worthwhile, along the wide sandy beach, and under the pier.

The Strand bike lane, south end.
The Strand bike lane, south end

From the beach you can take Surfrider or Seagaze up the hill to Pacific Street to access the downtown core with its restaurants centered around Tremont and Mission.  Another important facet of Oceanside is its transit center, located downtown south of Seagaze.  Four rail lines converge here – Amtrak’s Surfliner, LA’s Metrolink, and San Diego County’s Coaster and Sprinter, creating great opportunities for one way rides north to San Clemente or south along the San Diego County coast.

A unique downtown bike-ped rail underpass.
A unique downtown bike-ped rail underpass.

A popular cycling event in Oceanside is Bike the Coast – Taste the Coast with 100-50-25-15-7 mile options, held in early October.

San Diego’s Mission Bay area – An Easy Scenic Cyclist’s Paradise

San Diego’s Mission Bay, once a wetland that was dredged to create a water playground surrounded by public parks, is nirvana for those who like easy and scenic bike rides.  Trails that surround most of it are mainly flat as a pancake and hug the bay, with a connection to the 3-mile long Ocean Front Walk that parallels the blue pacific. Currently two large campgrounds, Mission Bay RV Resort and Campland-On-the Bay provide a great base for exploration, and resort hotels along the route include Hilton San Diego, Paradise Point Resort on Vacation Island, Hyatt Regency Mission Bay, and Catamaran Resort in Pacific Beach.

There are countless options to stop for a Bike ‘n Brunch experience in Mission Beach and Pacific Beach, numerous places to rent bikes, and trail connections that lead to area highlights such as Ocean Beach, historic Old Town San Diego, and Sea World.  A nice loop route on side streets connects Mission Bay to the lovely La Jolla district, and you can even ride down to the San Diego Harbor trails and take a ferry to Coronado for more great riding, but that’s the subject of another story.

Route signage is just so-so on the routes, so you’ll need a good bike map such as that found in enCYCLEpedia to avoid getting lost.  Also be aware that doing a complete loop around the bay involves some low-traffic street riding, and crossing a bridge in a bike lane or sidewalk.

Check out my entry on this topic in the San Diego Reader’s travel article contest of April 2015 (It was one of the finalists). Also see their Facebook page.

Cycling around the north end of Mission Bay with the San Diego skyline in the distance.
Cycling around the north end of Mission Bay with the San Diego skyline in the distance.
Parallel trails at the southeast corner of Mission Bay.
Parallel trails at the southeast corner of Mission Bay.
A great trail curves around the northwest corner of MIssion Bay.
A great trail curves around the northwest corner of MIssion Bay.
The Mike Gotch bridge (2012) over Rose Creek at the northeast corner of the bay vastly improved the loop ride.
The Mike Gotch bridge (2012) over Rose Creek at the northeast corner of the bay vastly improved the loop ride.
Ocean Front Walk can be a fabulous 3 mile cruise if you avoid peak times when it can be a zoo.
Ocean Front Walk can be a fabulous 3 mile cruise if you avoid peak times when it can be a zoo.
Scenic north end of Ocean Front Walk.
Scenic north end of Ocean Front Walk.
A sunset scene from Mission Bay RV Resort.
A sunset scene from Mission Bay.