Southern California has no shortage of scenic trails for hiking and biking. Whether you’re looking for a long, leisurely outing, a wild ride through the backcountry or one of America’s most grueling climbs, SoCal has you covered. Here are four of the best routes to ride this year.
Fay Avenue Bike Path, La Jolla
The Fay Avenue Bike Path is a short but stunning strip nestled between agave plants, eucalyptus trees and prickly pear cacti. (It’s also easy to connect to other biking routes from Fay Avenue via an on-street bike path.)
Part of the Rails to Trails conservancy project, it’s a perfect route for leisure riders that offers incredible views of the Pacific. If you spend weekends shopping for the best electric bike for hills, this bike path probably isn’t for you.
Marvin Braude Bike Trail, Los Angeles County
Looking for a longer ride that’s still geared toward relaxation? Grab your beach cruiser electric bike and hit the Marvin Braude Bike Trail, which winds its way through 21 miles of Los Angeles County.
Known locally as The Strand, this paved path kicks off in Pacific Palisades near Will Rogers State Park and passes through a handful of coastal towns including Santa Monica, Venice Beach, and Marina del Ray before concluding at Torrance Beach. Reasons to stop abound — from beachfront bars and hybrid bikes for sale to skate shops and a quick spin on the famed Santa Monica Ferris Wheel — all of which is good because The Strand gets crowded, particularly on the weekend.
Mount Baldy Road Climb, San Bernardino
As its name suggests, the Mount Baldy Road Climb sits at the opposite end of the spectrum from Fay Avenue and The Strand when it comes to the challenge offered. In fact, it’s included in many countdowns of the top 20 toughest climbs in the United States.
On a scale of 1 to 10, Mount Baldy is an 11, scaling 4,600 feet in 13 miles, the last five of which are extremely steep and feature tight switchbacks. This isn’t a trail you suddenly decide to hit on a Sunday afternoon with your buddies; this is a trail you train for. If you reach Mount Baldy’s summit, you’ll be rewarded with not only bragging rights but also jaw-dropping, panoramic views.
Ronald W. Caspers Wilderness Park, San Juan Capistrano
Don’t let the warning signs about mountain lions scare you off: This lush trip through the wilds of Southern California is a stunner, and the odds of actually seeing a big cat are extremely low.
Given Caspers’ remote nature, traveling there can be a slog for some, but its positioning is what allows it to remain unspoiled. The 7,600-acre park features a series of connected trails for both road and mountain biking. Most are easy to moderate in difficulty, and two of the best are the Oak Trail, where oak and sycamore groves abound, and the 10-mile West Ridge Trail near Trabuco Canyon.
It makes no difference if 2021 is the year that you’re pushing pedals to get fit or simply the year that you break your bike out of mothballs for more weekend rides. Choose a trail that will challenge not only your stamina but also your assumptions about all that the Golden State has to offer its cyclists.