When it comes to cycling, California offers a few distinct advantages: varied terrain, beautiful year-round weather, varied terrain, and natural beauty. The city is also ideal for biking because it has plenty of space.
However, bicycling in Los Angeles means dealing with traffic, irregular bike lanes, and aggressive cars that don't appreciate bikers. These pitfalls can make finding a suitable cycling trail in the City of Angels challenging.
Not to worry, though. We've compiled a list of bike routes that take place on roads that are either wholly car-free or have very little traffic. They are also appropriate for individuals of all fitness levels. You'll discover a range of trails to select from, ranging from a pleasant afternoon spin to a searing mountaintop adventure. They're listed in order of increasing complexity.
1. Ballona Creek Trail
The Ballona Creek trail, which runs from Culver City to Playa Del Rey, allows you to ride 7.4 miles on a car-free stretch to the beach. For the first mile or two, the trail begins near the intersection between Jefferson and National boulevards, lumpy and in bad shape. You might want to get on the path at Duquesne Avenue in Culver City and walk to the beach.
If you go in the afternoon, you'll almost certainly encounter a light headwind as you travel west. On the plus side, on the way back, you'll have a nice tailwind. You can find water fountains along the trail, as well as at nearby parks and parklets.
Parking is plentiful along Duquesne Avenue and in the surrounding neighborhood at the path's start. If you want to go without a car, the Expo Line is also close. Ride southwest on Jefferson (which has an excellent electric bike lane, but watch out for doors) until it crosses with Duquesne, then turn right. If you don't want to ride on Jefferson, the La Cienega Station is close to the start of the Ballona Path, so you wouldn't have to. Most commercial streets (and some residential ones) that the walk crosses on its way to the beach have entry points. Try out different maps to see which one works best for you.
2. The Rose Bowl
You'll be in excellent company when biking at the Rose Bowl, even if the scenery isn't spectacular. The Rose Bowl Loop is a 3-mile circuit that circles the stadium, parking areas, and a golf course. The loop is used for basic training by both cyclists and joggers.
While not as thrilling as some other rides, this is an excellent place to exercise. The loop has a gentle incline that allows you to practice traveling up and downhill. Given many other cyclists and runners in the area, traffic is mild and considerate. Because you're riding an electric bicycle, you should stay clear of the significant barriers that separate the area for walkers and runners. Closer to the stadium, there are drinking fountains and restrooms.
There isn't a wrong time to cycle at the Rose Bowl unless there's a special event going on. Many people are around at night, and the roads are often well lit. Ensure you have working front and backlights if you're riding at night.
Cycling directions: Take your usual route to the Rose Bowl and park wherever you like. When there is no event taking place, parking is free. If you're cycling around the stadium, a dirt lot around 176 West Drive in Pasadena is a great spot to park.
3. Several River Paths
There are a variety of river paths to choose from if you want to bike a long distance without much effort or beautiful scenery. Long stretches of flat bike paths are available on the L.A. River Path, San Gabriel River Path, and Rio Hondo Bike Path. These long routes, which traverse through large sections of Los Angeles, are similar to bike highways.
A 7.2-mile stretch of the L.A. River Bike Path between Griffith Park and Elysian Park is excellent for riding if you're closer to L.A.
The Arroyo Seco Pathway, which runs through northeast Los Angeles and is less than 3 miles long, is another fantastic, albeit short, choice.
Directions: You have a lot of possibilities here, so it's open-ended. Study the maps, work out where you can access the pathways, and then get riding!
4. Mt. Tamalpais, Marin County
This is a climbing-heavy route that is 57 miles long. It starts with a gorgeous climb past an alpine dam, then shows you 360-degree vistas of the open sea on your right and Marin County on the other side as you walk up the 'Seven Sisters' ridge along Mt. Tamalpais. On your descent down to the shore, you get a fantastic view of ocean vistas all the way along Highway 1 until it's time to climb back up. You get one more magnificent descent before ascending Bofax, a tiny, practically car-free beautiful climb. And just as you start to feel worn down by the climbing, it's all downhill from there.
Try this Mt. Tamalpais ride, or look through Strava's guide to San Francisco's North Bay for another scenic, less-difficult alternative in the area.
5. Elysian Park
Despite being only 10 minutes from downtown Los Angeles, this park is often overlooked and underutilized. Even on weekends, finding a peaceful area in the park is simple. You're riding on a smooth road with gripping asphalt that was recently repaved. It's L.A.'s oldest park, with a plethora of transplanted tree species and great views of downtown, but it's not the ideal spot to go if you haven't ridden a bike in years.
The environment of Elysian Park is steep. Even though none of the hills are enormous or steep, you will undoubtedly be climbing them. Although cycling and hiking are not the same things, a ride through Elysian Park requires about the same amount of work as the Wisdom Tree Hike to the top of Mount Hollywood or even the Hollywood Sign—which you can also ride your cargo bike to!.
If you're inexperienced at riding your bike over hilly terrain, start with low gear and spin swiftly. Your legs will most likely feel like they're on fire, but it's a good sign that you're doing it correctly. It won't take long to climb any of the hills in Elysian Park, and the downhills will be a blast. Throughout the park, you'll find drinking fountains and restrooms.
You may park wherever within the park's limits, but make sure there isn't a Dodger game scheduled. When there's a lot of traffic, cycling is impossible.
6. Lake Tahoe
There are so many gorgeous cycling locations in California, and you would find some near Lake Tahoe. The high elevation, good roads, and scenic splendor make it an ideal training location.
Lake Tahoe is a hotspot for both road and mountain biking, and the area has a plethora of bike shops where you can rent bikes and get local ride recommendations. Check out Tahoe.com's list of 10 Lake Tahoe hiking trails to choose one that meets your interests and ability level.
7. Mount Wilson
Explore the San Gabriel Mountains if you've been riding a lot and are tired of Elysian Park and the beach; riding to the summit of Mount Wilson is a fantastic way to get a taste of the Angeles National Forest. From the bottom of Angeles Crest Highway to the top of Mount Wilson, it's around 19 miles and 4,500 feet of climbing.
By any standard, it's an arduous climb. From the bottom of Angeles Crest Highway (near Foothill Boulevard in La Canada-Flintridge) to the top of Mount Wilson, it will take you around two to three hours to ride. Water is available at the ranger station at Clear Creek Intersection and the Mount Wilson turnoff.
Water is available at the ranger station at Clear Creek Junction—which is the first junction after entering the hills—and at the Mount Wilson Road turnoff (the second junction). The reward is a spectacular view of Los Angeles and the surrounding area.
8. Santa Barbara Wine Country Loop, Solvang
This 63.7-mile long bicycle route starts in Solvang. On your way up Mt. Figueroa, you can witness the most stunning views. If you enjoy the challenge of a vigorous climb as well as vistas of flowering poppies and the Pacific Ocean, this Solvang route is for you.
In the Santa Maria Valley, follow your challenging 96.5-mile ride with a satisfying tri-tip sandwich. Check out MapMyRide for Santa Maria, try one of the local DIY Santa Barbara rides, or join a wine and cycling tour group.
9. Palomar Mountain Climb, San Diego County
Palomar Mountain is a rite of passage for San Diego cyclists, and it has appeared on the Amgen Tour of California's route on many occasions. It's a well-known Southern California climb that's unique in that you can start at the beach and end up on a summit several hours later. There's no better way to get in shape, and as you snake through the woody switchbacks to the peak, you'll be rewarded with panoramic views of the entire valley.
The general store and Mother's Kitchen will be waiting for you at the summit of the 12-mile climb with some cookies and a cold drink of your choosing. A preferred route up the mountain is a 90-mile circle along peaceful country roads past Lake Henshaw, stopping at Dudley's Bakery in the middle. Park near the bottom of Mt. Palomar and take on the challenging climb.
The options for a bike ride are virtually endless. And these are some of Los Angeles' top trails, featuring something for everyone from beginners to experts.
Make sure you have some bike essentials with you on your ride, as well as any other gear you'll need to stay comfortable. If you intend to stop somewhere, remember to pack your lock so you won't have to worry about leaving your bike unprotected.