3 Classic Cycling Routes Every Local Should Do | Health + Fitness

Cabrillo National Monument

A few years ago, lockdowns caused us all to rethink ways to enjoy our communities, and cycling benefited as ridership increased. Maybe you’re one of the crowd of people who recently bought a new road bike, or maybe you’re tired of the neighborhood loops you’re used to – whatever the reason, it might be time to pick up some new routes to watch.

Here are three of my favorite hikes in San Diego that are easily accessible and have routes of your choosing depending on where you want to start your ride.

Cabrillo memorial

  • Trip Length: Approximately 18 miles round trip
  • Altitude gain: 550ft
  • Effort: moderate

At the top of Point Loma is San Diego County’s only national monument, Cabrillo National Monument, which offers great views of the city.

Beginning at the mouth of Fiesta Island on the east side of Mission Bay, make your way to Old Sea World Drive and cruise along the San Diego River to cross it at the Sunset Cliffs Bridge. Here you can choose to ride through Ocean Beach or along the newly protected bike path on Nimitz.

If you choose Nimitz, please use caution when crossing the often fast-moving traffic entering the OB from I-8. Whichever option you choose, you’ll then be taken to Catalina Blvd – your fast track to Cabrillo. Catalina Blvd climbs for the next two miles to the gateway to Naval Base Point Loma, where the best riding begins. Smooth roads and pristine landscapes await as you drive through the base.

Keep your eyes peeled for glimpses of scale radar ships, WWII bunkers and breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. You’ll continue through Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery before finally making it to the gates of the Cabrillo Monument. To enter the memorial grounds, you must purchase a permit ($10 individually or $35 annually) or you can use an America the Beautiful National Parks annual pass.

Inside the memorial, you have the option to extend your drive to visit the Old Point Loma Lighthouse, the tide pools, and the park’s visitor center. Keep in mind that the descent while checking out the tide pools is optional, the 0.75-mile climb of nearly 350 feet afterwards is not. Although this can be a great and beautiful spot for hill reps if you’re inclined. When you get back to the guard hut, fill up your bottles and head back the way you came.

San Diego Bay and Silver Sands

  • Trip Length: Approximately 25 miles, loop
  • Altitude gain: 300ft
  • Effort: Easy

San Diego has developed a lot of biking infrastructure in recent years, and one of the jewels in that effort is the Bayshore Bikeway. In conjunction with the Coronado Ferry, the Bayshore Bikeway offers the opportunity to loop around San Diego Bay and enjoy endless views along the way.

Golden Hill Park is a good starting point for your ride. From the park, go down 25th St. to get to the Cesar E. Chavez Pkwy and go through Barrio Logan. Once in Harbor Dr. Once there, turn left and begin your cruise of San Diego Bay.

The cycle path route along the harbor is still in various stages of completion and I look forward to seeing how smooth this will be once complete. In the meantime, however, you still have a nice bike path through the area. The bike trail begins at 32nd Street on the east side of Harbor Dr. and offers smooth, stress-free driving. After about 2.5 miles, the bike path switches sides of the road back to the western edge and onto Tidelands Ave.

Here you will leave much of the bustle of the Port of San Diego behind and begin to enjoy more of the beauty of the San Diego Bay. Continuing south, you’ll pass the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Pier 32 and the Chula Vista Marinas before passing the historic South Bay Salt Works.

Just after the salt flats, turn west and follow the southern edge of San Diego Bay. As the bike path begins to turn north, it meets the Silver Strand Bikeway, which takes you up to Coronado. From the junction with the bike path after the salt flats to Coronado, enjoy nearly nine miles of uninterrupted bike path with the bay on your right and ocean views on your left.

Once in Coronado, continue on the bike path until it connects to Glorietta Blvd. As you drive the route along Glorietta, you will notice the beautiful homes on your left and the Coronado Golf Course on your right with the Coronado Bridge behind.

Just before the road joins the bridge, look for an entrance back onto the bike path on the right, which will take you under the bridge. From here, continue until you reach the Coronado Ferry Landing – your journey back to San Diego. Currently, the ferry fare is $7 one-way and runs every hour. Once back on the San Diego side, ride the Embarcadero Bike Path through downtown and past the convention center until you rejoin Harbor Drive. From here it’s back to the Cesar E. Chavez Pkwy and back to your starting point at Golden Hill Park.

Mount Soledad

  • Trip Length: Approximately 16 miles, loop
  • Altitude gain: 850ft
  • Effort: moderate

Rising above Pacific Beach and Mission Bay, Mount Soledad offers a great local climb that’s easy to access from anywhere in the city. There are many climbing routes that lead you to countless variations of possible rides. This happens to be my first choice.

Begin at the mouth of Fiesta Island on the east side of Mission Bay and head north along E. Mission Bay Drive to De Anza Cove while enjoying views of the bay as the climb looms ahead of you. Just before crossing the bridge at Rose Creek, take the bike path along the western edge of the golf course, under Grand and Garnet before returning to Garnet to connect with Soledad Mountain Road.

From here the climb begins almost immediately and continues almost uninterrupted for the next three miles. Eventually, you’ll meet the La Jolla Scenic Dr and continue your ascent toward and into Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial Park. From the top, you’ll be treated to a 360-degree view of San Diego. On particularly clear days you can see the Coronado Islands to the south, Cuyamaca Peak and the Laguna Mountains to the east, and Palos Verde and Catalina Island to the northwest.

Once you’ve enjoyed the view from the top, I tend to make my way back by taking the La Jolla Scenic Dr. down to La Jolla Mesa, a quick descent with great views. Ultimately, La Jolla Mesa turns into Mission Blvd, taking you through the communities of Pacific and Mission Beach. Traffic increases when driving through here so be vigilant.

Turn left onto W Mission Bay Dr. and cross the bridge before turning right onto Quivara Way. Look for the Old Sea World Drive bike path entrance on the left. Once on the bike path, ride back along the San Diego River and make your way back to your starting point, passing through South Shores Park.

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