Santa Monica is about as close to a cyclists paradise as one can find anywhere in Southern California. Not only are the streets wide and well-maintained, with plural bike lanes specially designated for folks using pedal power, but it is also either home to or quite near miles and miles of excellent trails. And then of course let’s not forget the miles and miles of beachfront along which you can ride a bicycle!
Whether you prefer street cycling or riding on off road trails, or if lazily winding your way along the coast is more your speed, any bicycle enthusiast will find the right place for their rides in Santa Monica. Let’s first talk about the most iconic bike path in the area, the Santa Monica Bike Path. (It is technically named the Marvin Braude Bike Trail, but you will hardly ever hear that name used!) To be fair, the path runs from north of Santa Monica proper and runs well into Venice, but it is often known as the Santa Monica Bike Path or Bike Trail. The route is about eight and a half miles long, beginning (or ending, depending on how you look at things) up north at Temescal Canyon Road near Will Rogers State Beach. The bike path then hugs the coastline as it winds south, ending at Washinton Blvd.
As you ride down the Santa Monica Bike Path, along the way you will see people catching rays, playing volleyball, surfers, maybe even a dolphin or two, the colorful characters of the Venice Boardwalk and, of course, lots of other people out getting exercise or spending leisure time strolling. Many people feel that this bike trail has become too crowded over the years to be even worth using, and indeed there will be hundreds if not thousands of people out and about on sunny days, but why not just go slow and enjoy the ride just like everyone else will be doing? It is such a lovely way to see such a beautiful, iconic part of Los Angeles that you’ll be happy to be there, crowds or no.
But now let’s get a bit more serious. Search for the intersections of Mandeville Canyon Road and Chalon Road using your trusty GPS or pre-printed maps, and then find a spot to stick the car off the street, because it’s mountain biking time. Fortunately, this 3.5 mile route through the hills is actually all paved! You’ll get on Mandeville Canyon heading N-NW, and keep on going until you can’t go anymore, because you’ll be near the peak of San Vicente Mountain, with some great views, not to mention a great sweat session.
And if you really want to take it up a notch, try this 17 mile loop! The Paseo Miramar/ Eagle Rock/ Temescal Ridge/ Trailer Canyon Loop will take you up and down from sea level to about 2,000 feet and it will burn about that many calories, too! The views along the way will take your breath away, if the elevation changes haven’t already done that! Google “Trailer Canyon Loop” for your starting information.