Cliffs, Canyons and Carousels: The Best Bike Trails in Los Angeles
It might seem like the height of urban sprawl, but the truth is that L.A. has plenty of green places, too. It also has lots of sandy shores and rugged canyons. If you’d like to explore these picturesque locations on your favorite 10-speed, here are just a few of the best bike trails in Los Angeles.
Palos Verdes Donut Loop
Affectionately known as “The Donut,” this trail offers 28 miles of gorgeous scenery. It winds primarily through wealthy parts of the city, so you’ll enjoy lawns, lakes and ocean side suburbs as far as the eye can see. Just beware that it isn’t a trail meant for beginners. It has steep hills and inclines, so it’s best left to power pedalers.
Ocean Front Walk
You haven’t visited L.A. until you’ve experienced the Ocean Front Walk. Also known as the Venice Beach Boardwalk, it’s home to joggers, musicians, skateboarders, street vendors and beach-goers of all types. Don’t worry about foot traffic, however; there’s a separate trail for cyclists. You can enjoy the hustle and bustle of L.A. from a serene viewpoint as you make your way down one of its most iconic locations.
Ken Burton Loop
If you like to work up a sweat, consider the Ken Burton Loop. It will take you on a 15-mile journey from the skyscrapers of downtown L.A. to the rocky, rugged trails of the Angeles National Forest. Not only does it offer pretty views and a moderately challenging trail, but it also has the distinction of being one of the only trails in the area that was officially created for cyclists.
Lake Balboa Running Trails
It’s a short distance from Los Angeles, but if you’re willing to put in the extra mileage, you’ll love the Lake Balboa Running Trails. They wind around duck-filled waters and pink-tinged blossom trees, and the concrete path is always kept neat, clean and free of litter. It’s the kind of place where you can let go of all of your worries as you just enjoy the tranquility of nature.
Playa Del Rey Bike Path
This is a bike path that will give you a lot of bang for your buck. Starting in the crowds of the city, you’ll eventually head out past the traffic and towards the bay. From there, you can detour to Fisherman’s Village to eat, shop and explore; then, when you’re done, hop back on your bike and continue to open fields and groves. The Playa Del Rey Bike Path offers a little something for everyone in terms of scenery.
Griffith Park Bike Loop
Home to everything from zoos to museums, Griffith Park is the biggest park in Los Angeles. It sits on a staggering 4,300 acres of land! One of its amenities is a nine-mile bike trail, but don’t feel like you have to make the entire loop. It’s completely understandable if you get distracted by the Griffith Observatory or the Travel Town Museum.
Legg Lake Loop Trail
If you hate huffing and puffing during your bike rides, consider the easygoing Legg Lake Loop Trail. It’s only 2.2 miles, so you won’t have to push yourself to finish, and it winds through the cool, shady paths of the Whittier Narrows Recreation Area. This means clean concrete, serene lakes and picturesque walnut trees. If you’re really lucky, the ducks might accept some bread crumbs from you!
Sullivan Canyon Trail
Offering nine miles of rugged beauty, the Sullivan Canyon Trail is a year-round trail that you can enjoy any time that you come to Los Angeles. You’ll suck in crisp, fresh air as you summit its heights and ride through its wildflowers, and once you’re at the top, the view is simply incredible. You can enjoy it all of the way back down, too.
Located along the L.A. River, Marsh Park offers a clean, friendly sort of place to enjoy a bike ride. The trail is well-maintained; the park has green lawns, free exercise machines and lots of public bathrooms. If you’re looking for somewhere the whole family can climb on their bikes together, consider Marsh Park.
Bouquet Canyon Loop
The Bouquet Canyon Loop is a grueling bike path that will push you to your limit as you sweat and burn through 45 miles of steep inclines and desert weather. If you can take it, however, the center point of the loop is the gorgeous, glistening Castaic Lake, and the view will make everything worth it. Not everyone can say that they’ve seen Castaic Lake.
Portuguese Bend Reserve Loop
Ocean lovers, this one’s for you. The Portuguese Bend Reserve Loop offers some of the most stunning ocean views of any bike trail in California. You’ll pedal along the shore; you’ll pop a wheelie on the top of jagged waterside cliffs. It isn’t a difficult trail, so beginners can enjoy it. The only danger is that you’ll get distracted from your biking as you take a million selfies of the scenery.
Long Beach Bike Path
Do you get anxious if you can’t exercise? Do you find yourself looking for local gyms when you’re on vacation so that you can work off some of your restless energy? Consider taking the Long Beach Bike Path instead. It’s only three miles, so it’s not a huge time commitment, but it will let you get your heart pumping on the sandy shores of Long Beach.
The Backbone Trail is a modern-day wonder that stretches across multiple parks and recreation areas. Officially measured at 67 miles, it usually takes days for people to travel the entire thing, but you can enjoy a shorter version when going through the L.A.-adjacent Topanga State Park. Just be careful to avoid the foot traffic. It’s a popular location for everyone from hikers to dog walkers.
Test your skills with the Cheeseboro Loop. While the terrain is only moderately difficult, the trail will take you completely off the grid, so you’ll have to navigate without the benefit of cell reception. It’s also one of the less-traveled bike trails in the area, especially in the mornings, so it’s likely that you’ll be on your own. Do you have what it takes to complete the Cheeseboro Loop?
Marvin Braude Bike Trail
Twenty-two miles make up the Marvin Braude Bike Trail, which is known to locals as “The Strand.” It gets its name from its straightforward line that curves around the coast. You’ll pass just about every major L.A. landmark and boardwalk when you take this path, so it’s a great way to cram all of the sights into a single visit.
Ballona Creek Bike Path
Without lights, cars or crowds, the Ballona Creek Bike Path is a great way to get away from it all. It’s still located within the city, but it follows a secluded, nature-filled path, so you can enjoy a scenic sort of ride without actually leaving the comforts of civilization. You’ll get to experience the best of both worlds.
Great Egret Loop Trail
With five miles to explore, the Great Egret Loop Trail is a fun and beautiful distraction from everyday life. You can even take a detour into Elysian Valley when you reach the Los Angeles River Center and Gardens. You’ll see all kinds of ducks, frogs and birds, and you’ll get to watch the light sparkling off the river as you go past.
Metro Orange Line Bike Path
This isn’t a very scenic route; it runs parallel to one of the city’s major bus lines, and its primary purpose is to help commuters travel and navigate. If you don’t mind a lack of waterside views, however, the Metro Orange Line Bike Path can be a nice way to exercise on your vacation without fear of getting lost in a strange place.
Santa Clarita Cloverleaf
This is another trail that’s slightly outside of L.A. city limits, but it’s worth the effort. It gets its name from the fact that it resembles a four-leaf clover when viewed from above, and its twisty, zig-zagging ways make it a challenging but rewarding ride that you can swerve into from any number of smaller trails.
Beverly Hills Star Homes Loop
If you’ve always wanted to see how the other half lives, consider the Beverly Hills Star Homes Loop. It’s a calm, peaceful bike trail where birds will chirp as you glide through expensive neighborhoods and imagine what you could do with that kind of money. Its full length is 22 miles, but if you don’t want to take the full loop, there are also breakaway points where you can follow other paths.
These are just a few of the best bike trails near Los Angeles. Whether you’re looking for a thrilling adventure with cliffs and canyons or a leisurely ride through parks and playgrounds, L.A. can provide. Use this list to help you figure out which path is best suited for you!