enCYCLEpedia ride #CAT1. See the book for a map and more detail.
Do you have the urge to visit a Mediterranean Island? If you can choose a warm sunny day, which can happen any time of year, a visit to Santa Catalina Island can be a sublime experience. There is no car ferry to the island so the only vehicles are from the residents of the village of Avalon. Most get around on golf carts. You can bring your own bike, or rent from a couple of concessions including Brown’s Bikes. It’s a great way to get around, combining a bike ride with the other activities that range from mini golf to zip line to scuba diving. There is no shortage of shops to engage you and plenty of restaurants to savor. Accommodations range from high end B&B’s and inns to a campground. The 20+mile ferry crossing takes about 1- 1.5 hours from several ports in Orange and LA Counties, and bikes are allowed for a fee. Check for particulars on transporting e-bikes on the ferries.
The easiest cycling is around the quaint village and on ultra scenic waterfront roads north and south of town. A gradual hill through a canyon leads up to the must-see Wrigley Memorial and Botanic Garden. But for the most scenic roads and vistas, some substantial hill climbing north and south of town is required. You’ll need a multi-geared bike or better yet an e-bike to tackle those. Adventurous mountain bikers can get a permit or take a guided tour to cycle farther south, above Avalon, on Catalina Conservancy land, home of the bison herd. Or try cycling the length of the rugged 22-mile island.
SANDAG’s Go By Bike initiative continues to expand bikeways throughout San Diego. An interactive map depicts current and future bike lanes, protected Cycle Tracks and bike paths in the region.
Some of the most interesting places to bike in downtown San Diego are along the vibrant waterfront path and up in Balboa Park. Previously, to connect the two areas, cyclists had to contend with on-street bike routes, commingling with traffic. Now cyclists can get between these areas on Class IV Cycle Tracks. Cycle Tracks are bike lanes adjacent to streets with physical barriers from traffic and can be one-way or two-way. SANDAG also went the extra mile by installing bike traffic signals and where appropriate red no-turn arrows for vehicles when the bike signals are green to prevent hook type crashes.
The multi-use paths along the San Diego waterfront are visually spectacular, although portions tend to get crowded with tourists, best visited at off-peak times. The interesting vistas and points of interest make it worthwhile though, including the Maritime Museum, Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum, cruise ships, and many other highlights.
Cyclists need to detour around, or walk bikes through the popular Seaport Village complex, and in the future expect a major redevelopment project there. The harbor bike tour can be staged in many places. We’ve used Shelter and Harbor Islands in the past, but now prefer the new diverse massive Liberty Station complex (parks, restaurants, museums, grocery, etc) located up an inlet of San Diego Bay. A bike path goes under Harbor Drive and connects with the harborfont path. The harbor tour ride is described in enCYCLEpedia as ride SD4.
Currently, protected Cycle Tracks cut across downtown San Diego east-west on Beech and J streets. You can get to Beech St from the harbor path by crossing at the light at Ash St and cutting through the park to the left.
After the Cycle Track starts past Kettner Blvd the next block is India St (one-way north). The main part of the Little Italy district is to the left (north) here where you can find lots of sidewalk dining and the ped-only Piazza della Famiglia at Date St (below). We walked our bikes through here to get to Columbia St, which is one-way south, back to Beech. Grape St is another option.
On another occasion we biked here for “slices” and enjoyed some at Mr. Moto’s Pizza across from the Piazza:
The Beech St Cycle Track intersects the Cycle Track on 4th Ave (one way south) which extends south to B St but just ends there, so is not recommended from here. Next, the 5th Ave Track that starts at B St a few blocks south of here heads one way to the north. The Beech Track ends at 6th Ave, where a 2-way Track heads to the south only.
To do a loop up to Balboa Park/Zoo and the hip Hillcrest district, take the new 5th Ave Cycle Track north (1st photo, above). E-bikes have an edge here since it is an uphill journey. Once you near the top of the hill, next to Balboa Park, you’ll cross under the San Diego airport landing pattern, close overhead. To visit Balboa Park, take Laurel St to the right. It becomes El Prado past 6th Ave and crosses over a tall concrete bridge with the 163 freeway far below.
Tour around on the park roads. Our favorite route around the park is described in enCYCLEpedia’s ride SD6. The San Diego Zoo is adjacent to the north. If you’re a local, consider becoming a zoo member so you can just pop in whenever you want and visit your favorite animals.
Exit the park the same way, but look for a bike path to the right before reaching Balboa Dr and 6th Ave. It ends at Upas St. Cross 6th Ave and return to the 5th Ave Cycle Track heading north if you want to explore or dine in Hillcrest, or else go to 4th Ave and head south in its Cycle Track. There certainly are plenty of great dining options in Hillcrest, many along the Cycle Tracks.
The 5th Ave Cycle Track ends at Washington. The connection along Washington to the 4th Ave Cycle Track to head south was awkward, it needs work. You may want to cross over before Washington. The one-way southbound 4th Ave route is part Cycle Track and part buffered bike lane. Warning, you may want to stop at Babycakes bakery en route. We encountered a one-block detour onto the roadway in March 2022.
Returning to Beech St, head left on the Track to 6th Ave, then cross it and turn right onto the 2-way Cycle Track.
This is a busy section of downtown, so expect lots of stops at lights, but thankfully they are all equipped with bike signals coordinated with “no turn” signals for vehicles. This Cycle Track skirts the Gaslamp Quarter, passes the east-west track on J St (an option to return to the waterfront) and ends at L Street. Cross L and make your way to a plaza to the right to reach 5th Ave. Use the 5th Ave signal to cross the tracks, the MLK rail trail, and Harbor Dr. Go left in the Harbor Dr bike lane to the first light at Park Blvd. Cross Park and take the sidewalk on the right that leads to the waterfront path next to the Hilton San Diego Bayfront.
From here complete the loop along the harborfront paths (~20 miles staged from Liberty Station). Check out the new state of the art Rady Shell venue at Jacobs Park, Embarcadero Marina Park South across from the Convention Center. Bike to the summer concert series by the San Diego Philharmonic, and others.
The passenger/bike ferry to Coronado also leaves from this area (next to Joe’s Crab Shack) but that’s the subject of another post (and enCYCLEpedia Ride SD7). Either take the ferry and ride over there, then take the ferry back, or do a ~24 mile loop around the bay via Imperial Beach and other cities.
Irvine is still expanding in leaps and bounds, and with that new development comes lots of new bicycling infrastructure that the city is famous for. In June 2019 the new Bosque trail system officially opened, part of the master development of the Orange County Great Park, formerly Marine Corps Air Station El Toro. The Jeffrey Open Space Trail project has been underway over the last decade, and the 2.4-mile portion north of I-5 is now opened. When completed to its full 5-mile length it will connect all the way to the San Diego Creek Trail (enCYCLE ride IR1) and the Quail Hill area (enCYCLE ride IR2). Currently that connection can be made via the side path along Sand Canyon Rd.
It’s fun to explore the huge Orange County Great Park, which is a work in progress, but with lots of completed sections containing athletic fields, some paved bike paths, and a giant orange tethered balloon that you can ride 400 feet into the air. With the Cypress Village Trail, the Portola Side Trail, and the Round Canyon Trail cyclists can now do a very scenic 11-12 mile loop bike ride, which encompasses enCYCLEpedia’s new ride IR4, downloadable on its website.
by Richard Fox, Author, enCYCLEpedia Southern California– The Best Easy Scenic Bike Rides (2021)
Updated November 2021
While bike lanes are always welcome on roadways, they don’t guarantee cyclists’ safety, especially on high-speed boulevards where they are not sufficiently separated from traffic lanes. All too often distracted or impaired motorists swerve into the lanes and collide with cyclists with disastrous consequences. The chances of an individual on a particular ride being hit is extremely low, but the 3-5 incidents per year in the Coachella Valley of the Southern California desert is enough to give pause. Cyclists that have the need for speed have no good off road bike trail options in this region compared to other metro areas, and are relegated to ride on these sometimes dangerous byways. The CV Link regional path, when completed in the next few years, will improve that situation somewhat in Palm Springs-Cathedral City and La Quinta-Indio-Coachella, but the gap caused by its banning in Rancho Mirage and Indian Wells wrecked the potential for a valley-wide path that could have enticed more cyclists off of the high speed boulevards.
More casual cyclists, like those who follow our enCYCLEpedia offerings, and are content to travel at 15 mph or less, can enjoy a much safer alternative in the Coachella Valley. Many of the valley’s sidewalks have been designated as bike paths and are a delight to ride on, with beautiful landscaping, and in the areas with large gated communities, long uninterrupted stretches. I call them “sidepaths.” Many sidepaths are not signed as bike paths but still provide an ample alternative. There’s no reason for a casual cyclist to risk being hit by a speeding car on the 55-mph boulevards when there’s a perfectly good sidepath adjacent. However, sidepaths do come with their own set of hazards, and cyclists must ride defensively, using extreme care at every crossing of a road or driveway. Attention to obstacles is also important, especially in unfamiliar territory, and although sprinklers can be refreshing on a hot day, they can also make the path slippery in places. Slow way down around pedestrians and other cyclists, announcing your approach if from behind. Helmets are highly recommended on any bike path, since you can fall over and hit your head on the concrete. What I appreciate about riding on sidepaths in this area is that my safety is more under my own control. As long as I take the appropriate precautions, I am unlikely to be severely injured, versus riding on the busy roadways where I am always wondering whether a speeding vehicle will swerve into the bike lane or do a “right hook” and hit me. In addition to sidepaths, many un-gated neighborhoods with low speed limits are enjoyable to ride through, the best of which is Old Las Palmas in Palm Springs.
For enCYCLE’s 3rd Edition (2021) I added a new ride, RM3, comprised of 10+ miles of beautifully landscaped sidepath loops around the Mission Hills Country Club area of north Rancho Mirage. Along that route alone there have been 3 fatal bicycle accidents on the adjacent roadways in recent years. That inspired me to research other fatal bike accidents to see whether there were alternate off-road paths adjacent or safer routes nearby. Not to say that the victims would have selected to ride on sidepaths versus the roadways, but it illustrates that for the casual cyclist, safer options are available. For every fatal accident there are numerous accidents resulting in injury, but there was not enough information available to report on those incidents. Following are some of the reported fatal accidents since 2007 where safer enCYCLEpedia alternatives exist:
March 28, 2021 73 year old lndio resident William Mohan was struck on Avenue 48 about a quarter mile east of Jefferson, around noon. No details were published regarding where on the road this happened. Ave 48 has both ample bike lanes and sidepaths as shown on the latest enCYCLEpedia maps, all the way from Washington to Monroe and beyond. Casual cyclists will more likely be safer sticking to those sidepaths and crossing very carefully with traffic signals at intersections, than riding with traffic, even in bike lanes. Mr. Mohan may have been trying to make a left turn into the unsignaled Outdoor Resorts property.
April 14, 2020 William Camp, 62, of Palm Springs, was killed at 4:05 p.m. on North Gene Autry Trail near Vista Chino, after being struck by a big rig. No details were available as to where he was on the roadway when he was struck. On rides across Palm Springs, we use bike-friendly Via Escuela, then transition to the wide sidepaths along Gene Autry rather than riding on that busy road. To head south on the Gene Autry bike path along the airport stick to the west side, or to connect to the CV Link, carefully cross with the Via Escuela light to the east sidepath, then to the south sidepath along Vista Chino, to the east (left) to reach CV Link (enCYCLE ride PS4). In 2020 there were several other bicycle fatalities in the valley, but enCYCLE does not have alternate paths at those locations in Coachella, Desert Hot Springs and Thousand Palms. The same holds true for other years.
October 21, 2019 At 9:20 p.m. 30-year-old Raymundo Jaime of Desert Hot Springs was killed in a hit-and-run crash on South Palm Canyon Dr near Mesquite Ave and Morongo Rd in Palm Springs, leaving a widow and young daughter. This road is dangerous enough during the day and is not recommended at night. Take alternate routes like Belardo or through the Deepwell district if possible (PS1, 2).
September 9, 2019 65-year old Thereseem Smith of Palm Desert was cycling on the northbound sidewalk of Hwy 74 south of Haystack at 7:45 a.m. when a car from the opposite direction veered across lanes and jumped the west sidewalk to strike her in a freak accident. Our ride options for this area are mainly on service roads and sidewalks on the east side of 74. This shows that although sidewalks are safer from high-impact collisions with vehicles than roadways, it’s not a guarantee.
April 5, 2019 Palm Springs resident Jack Peterson, 77, was struck by a northbound vehicle while riding his bike east across Bob Hope in the crosswalk on Casino Way toward Agua Caliente Casino at 1:30 pm. It is not known if the vehicle blew through a red light there. enCYCLEpedia doesn’t recommend riding along busy Bob Hope in that area. There is a so-so all-sidewalk route using Varner and Monterey connecting to rides RM1, 2 or 3 (see Bonus Map RM3 on enCYCLEpedia.net.)
March 25, 2019: Alberta snowbird Paul Jackson, 67, riding along the Hwy 111 shoulder near Cook in Indian Wells, crashed into a parked minivan. What resembles a bike lane is actually just a wide shoulder with parking allowed, although since vehicles are rarely parked along there it seems like a Class II lane. Sidepaths run along both sides of Hwy 111 (enCYCLE ride IW1). I have been told that bike riding on the sidewalk paths are “functionally allowed” in Indian wells (i.e. cops will not hassle well behaved cyclists). The city removed the Bike Route signs along the south sidepath a few years ago, most likely for liability reasons (Photo, below). Extending the CV Link regional path through Indian Wells would get a lot of cyclists off both the roads and sidepaths, but the city has banned CV Link within its boundaries.
March 23, 2019: This is not the Coachella Valley, but is a nearby Riverside County enCYCLE ride used as illustration: Family man and outdoorsman Brian Sabel, 52, was the victim of an early morning hit-and-run in an ample bike lane along beautiful and historic Victoria Avenue in Riverside. This road is very popular with road cyclists and seems like a safe place to ride. However, enCYCLE ride R2 uses the adjacent paved Class I Rosanna Scott Bike Trail instead, which is much safer.
December 13, 2018: William Campbell, 32, a local avid cyclist, was struck in the Ramon Road bike lane near Rattler in Rancho Mirage by an alleged street racer traveling close to 95 mph. New enCYCLE ride RM3 is along a wide sidepath adjacent to the bike lane, although the path does not continue east past Los Alamos.
May 14, 2018: Diana Lynn Young, 61, was struck in the bike lane of Country Club Drive in front of the Marriott Desert Springs resort in Palm Desert where she worked. enCYCLE rides RM1, RM2 and PD1 all use the beautifully landscaped sidepaths available on both sides of Country Club through there. They continue for miles in both directions. I sometimes rode in the bike lanes through here to get a good sprint going, until this incident.
April 2, 2018: BC Snowbird Peter Harvey, 74, was hit in the bike lane on Bob Hope Drive near Ginger Rogers in Rancho Mirage. New enCYCLE ride RM3 is along the pretty designated bike/golf cart path along the west side of Bob Hope between Gerald Ford and Dinah Shore.
June 26, 2017: Larry Lee Ortner, 81, hit a parked landscaping truck when gliding down the Avenida Bermudas hill in La Quinta Cove. While this seems to be a safe road to ride on, always watch out for what is in front of you, even in a bike lane. We prefer to ride both up and down the paved Class I Bear Creek Trail (enCYCLE ride LQ1) in The Cove instead to avoid vehicular traffic and enjoy the great scenery in both directions.
February 7, 2015: Todd Barajas, 52, was struck while riding late at night on Hovley Lane near Corporate Way, where there is no bike lane. However, there is an ample sidepath along the north side of the road. This is an alternate route to Country Club when riding enCYCLE ride RM2.
January 6, 2015: Rose Peters, 73, a cycling enthusiast who’d ridden cross country several times and was using a hand-cycle because of hip replacements, was broadsided while riding in the Hwy 74 bike lane in Palm Desert by a vehicle turning left onto Mesa View, which is one of the routes to The Living Desert. enCYCLE’s ride in that area (RM2) uses Hwy 74’s frontage road and corresponding sidepaths rather than busy Hwy 74, but that still involves side street crossings that require extra caution because of turning vehicles.
November 30, 2012: Corey Holley, 38, was struck along South Palm Canyon at Palmera (near Stein Mart). This road is not safe. Much better alternatives now exist along South Belardo Rd to the west between downtown and South Palm Springs, or through the Deepwell District (enCYCLE rides PS1, PS2).
June 2, 2012: Gerald Weiss, 52, a well respected physician and family man, was hit on very dangerous Fred Waring Drive west of Eldorado, in traffic lanes after dark. Indian Wells lost a lawsuit because the road was determined to be unsafe, and as a result erected signs banning bikes along there. It’s not an enCYCLE recommended stretch because the sidewalk alongside Fred Waring between Eldorado and Cook is narrow, though it still is rideable. We detour south, down Class II Eldorado to the 111 sidewalk paths, and back up on the Cook sidewalk path to avoid this stretch that CV Link would otherwise bridge if not banned in Indian Wells (rides IW1, RM2).
April 8, 2012: Donald McCluskey, 49, was on Da Vall waiting at the red light to cross south past Ramon in Rancho Mirage when a minivan heading north blew through the red light, was hit by a westbound vehicle on Ramon, and overturned onto McCluskey and the vehicle next to him. Our new ride RM3 uses the east sidewalk of Da Vall at that location on both sides of Ramon, which would have been out of the line of fire in this case. However, in situations with sudden catastrophic vehicle crashes, cars can just as easily end up on a sidewalk or bike path, so vigilance at all times can’t hurt.
December 4, 2010: Joseph P. Szymanski, 56, was the victim of a hit-and-run midday while riding westbound in the bike lane on 54th between Madison and Jefferson in La Quinta. It would seem like a safe road to ride on, but I guess not. Since that time the bike lanes have been widened (photo) with a little more protection. We use the pretty landscaped sidewalk along the south side of 54th for enCYCLE ride LQ2, and pay careful attention if sprinklers make the sidewalk wet and slippery. La Quinta has since upgraded many of it’s bike lanes to be more separated from the traffic lanes, and we do ride on those, such as along Madison between Ave 54 and Ave 58.
March 7, 2007: Athlete Kim Raney, 26, on vacation from Washington, fell off her bike and was hit by a truck while riding on Hwy 111 in Cathedral City. enCYCLE feels Hwy 111 is too dangerous to ride on. All of our rides that encounter Hwy 111 are either on sidepaths alongside it, or via alternate routes. This includes PS1 – PS4, CC1, RM1, and RM2. The CV Link path will add some great alternatives to riding along Hwy 111 for all cyclists, although it is hindered by its boycott by the cities of Rancho Mirage and Indian Wells.
Palm Springs is one of the most interesting and fun towns to ride around in Southern California, especially when the weather is picture-perfect from fall through early spring. A stunning mountain backdrop, frequently capped with snow, contrasts to the modified desert landscape of palms, cacti and colorful flowering shrubs. Whereas much of the Coachella Valley is hidden behind walled communities, most of Palm Springs’ communities are available to explore by bike. Architecture ranges from Mid-Century Modern to Spanish colonial, and a vibrant downtown is bursting with inviting restaurants, many of which are al fresco and perfect to combine with your ride.
In the mid 20th Century, Palm Springs was the playground of the Hollywood elite, with many of the biggest stars spending time here in a myriad of homes, whether rented or owned. Although they came here to escape the pressure and scrutiny of Hollywood, they created their own melodrama here in the valley. Details on who lived where is more reliable for some stars’ homes than others’, but the scavenger hunt through history makes this cycle down memory lanes a rewarding exercise. Pictured above is the Elvis Honeymoon Hideaway, which he and Priscilla rented in the 60’s.
In December 2018 I led 10 enthusiastic friends on enCYCLEpedia Southern California Ride PS1, “Palm Springs Vintage Star Tour – Where YOU Are the Star,” except instead of having them recite movie lines or sing songs of the various stars as outlined in the book, I played audio clips from movies or their songbook to bring history alive, and had them guess the former occupants based on those, while also regaling tales of yesteryear. The stops came in clusters, with welcome cycling mileage in between as we explored the Old Las Palmas, Deep Well and Movie Colony Districts in a ride of 14 miles. I actually added to what is in the book, which may have been a mistake, since the 40-odd stops ended up taking 4 hours, and we didn’t make it to lunch until 2:15, a delicious repast on the El Mirasol (North) patio. Next time I’ll reduce the stops or plan the lunch for mid-ride……
The next opportunity, delayed by everyone’s schedules and then the Covid pandemic, came in April, 2021, on the date that was two weeks after my second Pfizer vaccine so that I could enjoy lunch with 14 pickleball pals and neighbhors. Although a big group, it went very smoothly, and I shortened the route with less stops and skipping Deepwell to make it more manageable.
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!
Enjoying a meal al fresco on a perfectly sunny desert day is a sublime experience, but incorporating it into a bike ride adds beneficial exercise and fun. enCYCLEpedia presents our favorite combinations of easy scenic bicycle rides and al fresco dining experiences in the Coachella Valley. Bike routes that include these restaurants as destinations are described in the book “enCYCLEpedia Southern California – The Best Easy Scenic Bike Rides” (3rd edition Oct ’21). Don’t be ashamed to ride on the pretty landscaped valley sidewalks when it’s a safer option, but be extra careful anytime you cross a driveway or street. More info: enCYCLE’s website (Palm Springs area is Chapter 9). Banner photo: Escena Lounge & Grill (courtesy of Sunrise Golf).
What to wear? Most places mentioned are super casual. For the more upscale establishments like Spencer’s or those along El Paseo perhaps bring or wear a more appropriate frock. Golf course establishments typically require a collared shirt. Personally I carry a light Hawaiian shirt to wear over my tee!
1. Downtown Palm Springs
Palm Springs is THE place in the Coachella Valley to cycle on a beautiful winter’s day and find a delightful patio to savor a well deserved meal. Most of the patio restaurants are along South Palm Canyon Drive between Tamarisk and Baristo, but there are plenty others a block or two farther afield. Palm Canyon and Indian Canyon now have sharrows (bike symbols) in their left lanes between Alejo and Ramon. You can also cycle on parallel roads to the west that comprise the city’s bike routes, and just ride a block or two east to Palm Canyon to get to your patio restaurant of choice, including Cheeky’s for imaginative breakfasts, Blue Coyote or Las Casuelas Terraza for a festive al fresco Mexican experience, Lulu’s with varied menu and people-watching patio (photo), friendly Chicken Ranch (which has worked well on several of my group outings) or Ruby’s family style diner, to name just a few. Or, you can pedal west on Baristo Road a few blocks to experience the fabulous outdoor patio of upscale Spencer’s. Along Indian Canyon Drive, at La Plaza are Bill’s, a pizza favorite (photo), Tyler’s, a burger favorite, Farm for French breakfast/lunch, and others. Wang’s Chinese restaurant’s popular Zen Patio is north of Ramon. Thai Smile for lunch and Oscar’s Cafe for breakfast/lunch are al fresco at Tahquitz Canyon, with Sherman’s Deli’s large patio another block to the east. Tropicale’s patio is fun for an upscale brunch, located east on Amado. Near the Movie Colony El Mirasol has a beautiful patio. And to the south of downtown Townie Bagels on Sunny Dunes is popular with cyclists. [enCYCLE ride: PS1,3]
Gary & Elizabeth on Lulu’s patio.
Colin and Richard at Bill’s Pizza.
Steve cycles by Tahquitz Golf Course.
2. El Paseo, Palm Desert
This upscale district gained even more outdoor dining options during the pandemic and is located at the crossroads of bike rides in Palm Desert and Indian Wells. From Indian Wells head west on the 111 sidewalk, or for a better ride head south on Eldorado to Fairway. In Palm Desert the CV Link pathway crosses town. From the Municipal Park area head south on the San Pablo bike paths and cross 111 to reach El Paseo. From the western terminus at the Bump ‘n Grind trailhead continue across the bike bridge next to Target and make your way to El Paseo from there, stopping at the Palm Desert Sculpture Garden en route. El Paseo is a busy road but you can take a lane, or cycle on the adjacent Shadow Meadow to the south and hop into town for grub. Some popular patios in this area are California Pizza Kitchen, Daily Grill, Pacifica Seafood, Tommy Bahama’s, Café Des Beaux-Artes, or Wilma & Frieda in The Gardens. To the west of Monterey, Westfield Mall offers Stuft Pizza and City Wok, each with a large mountain-view patio. Louise’s Pantry for breakfast/lunch is along the 111 frontage road across from Palm Desert’s new location of Bill’s Pizza, for fabulous pizza on a patio. Real Italian Deli near Tri-A-Bike on San Pablo has a large outdoor patio. The Living Desert a mile south of El Paseo has a couple of outdoor cafes, and makes for a great frequent biking destination for members like me.[enCYCLE ride: RM2]
Uncrowded very early morning.
The median of El Paseo is adorned with modern sculptures.
3. The River at Rancho Mirage
Reached via the sidewalk bike trails along Hwy 111 or Bob Hope, or the serene streets of Rancho Mirage Cove, the refreshing pools of The River complex are not a mirage, but will revive you on a warm day, and the choice for eats here are first rate. The fabulous waterfront patio of Acqua California Bistro is closed at this writing. Current choices for lunch and dinner include franchises of Cheesecake Factory, Babe’s BBQ, PF Chang’s, and The Yard House, each offering an al fresco option. [enCYCLE ride: RM2]
4. Old Town La Quinta
Granted it’s a newly-built old town, but Old Town La Quinta charms nonetheless. Access it south from Hwy 111 on Washington, right on Eisenhower, left on Tampico, and right on Bermudas one block. La Quinta prefers that you ride in bike lanes or specifically marked sidewalk trails, but if you ride courteously on the unmarked sidewalk paths you will rarely if ever be hassled by the authorities. We particularly like the patio of Stuft Pizza, which has happy hour food prices from 3 to 6 pm. I love their Napa Valley Pizza (photo). For breakfast, Main Street Coffee is popular with cyclists where tables are set out on the square (photo). A few more options can be found around Old Town including The Grill on Main and Old Town Tavern. From Old Town you can ride uphill several miles on the scenic Bear Creek bike trail (photo), with some optional easy dirt paths at the top of La Quinta Cove. [enCYCLE rides: LQ1,2,3]
The Bear Creek Trail leads from just west of Old Town, parallel to the La Quinta Cove neighborhood, gradually rising 350 feet up to the foothills of the Santa Rosa Mountains. It’s perhaps the best Class I bike trail in the valley, even though it’s only 2 miles long. Ride LQ1 includes this trail and an exploration of Old Town, with some options.
My personal favorite Bike ‘n Brunch reward is the Napa Pizza on the Stuft Pizza patio.
Old Town Coffee, a cyclists’ handoout.
5. Escena Golf Club, Palm Springs
A stand-alone destination, Escena Lounge & Grill at the Escena Golf Club is a popular Bike ‘n Brunch choice with delicious food served on an expansive patio with fabulous mountain views (photo below and banner photo). From the bike path along the west side of Gene Autry next to the airport (photo), pedal east on the south sidewalk of Vista Chino to the community entrance on the right, then ride another half mile to the golf club. Then try the first 2.3-mile section of the regional CV Link trail just beyond the Escena entrance along Whitewater Channel between Vista Chino and Ramon. There are also several casual restaurants with patios at Ramon and Gene Autry, including Panera Bread and Dickey’s BBQ north of Ramon and Goody’s Cafe, Torakichi Ramen, and Raising Kane’s Chicken Fingers to the south. [enCYCLE rides: PS4, PS3]
6. South Palm Springs
This very popular district is fun to cycle around on its residential streets lined with classic Palm Springs homes. Your brunching options are the scenic patio at South Restaurant of Indian Canyons Golf Club along Murray Canyon, or try some choices along Hwy 111 east of Sunrise. Manhattan In the Desert (east of Barona) has a delectably huge deli menu that spans all three meals, and a tempting bakery counter. A detour north up South Palm Canyon from Belardo/ East Palm Canyon brings you to popular El Mirasol for Mexican food. Koffi is a local hangout for coffee and light fare at El Camino Real and 111. [enCYCLE ride: PS2]
Uncrowded very early morning.
The median of El Paseo is adorned with modern sculptures.
7. Desert Willow Golf Course, Palm Desert
The beautiful half-mile long sidewalk trail leading up the hill from the Desert Springs (aka Ralph’s) Shopping Center northwest of Cook and Country Club leads to the clubhouse of Desert Willow Country Club, an upscale city-owned golf course. Its Lakeview Terrace has a wonderful outdoor view patio and serves delicious food, perfect for your mid-ride meal. IW Coffee & Chai Bar next to Ralphs is popular with cyclists. [enCYCLE rides: PD1, RM1,2]
Along the path to the clubhouse restaurant.
Beautiful paths at a high point in the valley overlook pretty Desert Willow Golf Course and mountains in all directions.
8. Restaurant Row, Rancho Mirage
Cycle the bike sidewalk along Hwy 111 between Frank Sinatra or Country Club, or from Palm Desert, head west on either of those boulevards to the end. Las Casuelas Nuevas has a very popular patio for Mexican cuisine and an elaborate Sunday brunch. We love to go to The Palms Cafe II for al fresco breakfast, especially when we sub a giant banana nut pancake for toast. [enCYCLE rides: RM1,2]
9. Highway 111, La Quinta – Indio
A sidewalk path is now continuous along the south side of Hwy 111 from Indian Wells all the way through La Quinta to the Indio border so that you can extend your rides in La Quinta or Indian Wells to access plenty of al fresco dining options. Most are actually on the north side of the road, where the sidewalk has a couple of breaks. Choices start with Broken Yolk at Washington. Across from In ‘n Out Burger at Simon is Pokehana for a healthy poke fix, Panera Bread, Chipotle and Habit Burger past Adams, and Pho Vu Vietnamese and IHOP after Dune Palms. Mimi’s Cafe at the Costco entrance road has a small outside patio.. [enCYCLE rides: LQ3, IW1]
10. Indian Wells
If you ride on Indian Wells’ sidewalk path (once a designated bike path as shown in the photo) west adjacent to the south side of Hwy 111 toward the towering mountains you will reach Cook Street, across which is Eureka! Their semi-covered and fanned patio is the perfect stop along your bicycle exploration to enjoy fabulous gourmet burgers like the Fresno Fig (photo, below, shown next to enCYCLEpedia), salads and crafted brews. Continuing a bit farther west leads to El Paseo (#2 above). There are also lots of restaurants, some with patios, along Hwy 111 in the El Paseo area that you can access via frontage roads. And those up for something more upscale can venture into some of Indian Wells’ resorts along the route, including Vue Grille at Indian Wells Golf Resort.[enCYCLE rides: IW1, RM2]
The pretty Indian Wells bike trail along Hwy 111 is a great connector between Palm Desert and La Quinta.
Cycling Grand Canyon’s South Rim area used to be our little secret, but thanks to Bright Angel Bicycles rental bikes, there are now scores of cyclists along the roads and trails; most seemingly international visitors based on their languages. Even with the added traffic it still is uncrowded, and the thrill of cycling with Grand Canyon views is unparalleled. West Rim Drive is closed to most vehicles (except handicapped, trams, and a few tour buses) during March – November, giving you an ultra wide and fabulous bike path that extends 7 miles from Grand Canyon Village west to Hermits Rest. You can access all of the famous vista points that the tram stops at to offload bunches of tourists, but also have some awesome spots all to yourself along the route as well. If you get tired, hop on a bike-carrying tram at the designated stops. Be warned that although it is an easy ride technically, there are some gradual grades, so if you’re not acclimated to the 7,000+ foot elevation, take it slow and easy or don’t attempt it if not in good physical condition. Also consider taking the tram up the first and steepest hill to the first stop. Or better yet, rent an e-bike.
Bikes are only allowed on a couple of sections of the paved Rim Trail, but not near any of the high-usage areas like between Grand Canyon Village and Mather Point. From the Village, the paved Greenway Trail that allows bikes weaves east through the forest, away from the rim and gradually uphill, reaching various features such as the two campgrounds’ (Trailer Village RV Park and Mather Campground) access roads, Market Plaza with its restaurants and grocery store, and ultimately the Visitors Center complex and bike rental facility. After leaving the Visitors Center it reaches the rim for a spectacular treat of a couple of miles of amazing canyon vistas, ending at the trailhead for the Kaibab Trail. From there you can also pedal on the closed-to-most-cars road to Yacqui Point.
If you’re staying at the park campgrounds, you can take the Greenway Trail in either direction. The option of heading toward the Visitors Center and the Greenway rim trail that allows bikes just east of Mather Point is easy and very worthwhile. The other direction heads gradually downhill to Grand Canyon Village and the Hermit Rest road ride which requires more stamina.
For extra trail mileage, a new 6-mile path leads from the tourist village of Tusayan outside the park through the forest to the Visitors Center. It is mostly gravel, through the forest, and not the most wonderful experience.
Santa Fe, everyone’s favorite southwest Spanish colonial cultural mecca, is a place to stroll and take in its unique ambience characterized by the recognizable Santa Fe style architecture, and highlighted by its delectably spicy southwestern cuisine. The sprawling capital city features a central historic core that is the main attraction to millions of visitors.
Although cycling isn’t the first thing that comes to mind in association with Santa Fe, recent improvements in cycling infrastructure have created a very worthwhile biking experience for the easy scenic cyclist. Explore the downtown core, where many streets now have sharrows, and expand your ride on several bike trails that extend into the surrounding districts. Get a bike map from the City or on line or from this link: http://santafempo.org/documents/bikeways-map/
Home of the University of Colorado and the Buffalos, Boulder has grown into its own as an ultra popular place to live with a progressive slant and with one of the best bicycle infrastructures in the US. Although automobile traffic has become an issue here, a series of bike trails connect various points of the city, most complete with underpasses to enable seamless cycling away from the roadways. The highlight is the great Boulder Creek Trail, that follows Boulder Creek from beautiful Boulder Canyon west of town, through a scenic stretch of greenbelts, the exciting downtown district, and out into the city’s eastern districts. Connecting trails take the rider to many of the city’s features. It is a great Bike ‘n Brunch ride than can result in between 10 to 25 miles of easy scenic cycling.
The easy scenic cycling adventures of Richard Fox, author of the 2014 (2nd Ed 2017, 3rd Ed 2021) guidebook "enCYCLEpedia Southern California – The Best Easy Scenic Bike Rides."