San Diego is a great place to do some road biking pretty much any time of the year. The temperatures are fairly moderate, there are a number of bike paths and designated bike lanes, and I find the drivers in San Diego fairly accommodating for cyclists. The best cycling is in the Mission Bay, La Jolla and northern coast areas like Torrey Pines, Del Mar, and inland to places like Rancho Santa Fe and Poway. In order to best access these areas I would suggest staying in the Mission Beach, La Jolla area. I would not stay downtown as the routes which connect downtown to these northern areas are not the best for cycling. The are numerous houses and apartments for rent in the Mission Beach / Mission Bay area, and there are a lot of hotels in the La Jolla area. Below you’ll find my favourite routes in the San Diego area. I like the challenge of some climbing and most of these routes involve a fair amount of climbing. I have these Routes saved in Strava, so if you are a Strava member and actually want the Route file just let me know (via a comment below) and I can send it along.
1. La Jolla Mt Soledad Cycling Route – 25 kilometers
This route is a great warm up ride if you’ve just arrived in San Diego. The Soledad Mountain Road climb is a good challenge and will get your legs warmed up for the longer rides later in the week. The view from the top of Soledad is spectacular on a clear day. The total distance for this ride from Mission Bay to the top of Soledad return is about 25 kilometres.
For all of my routes I am going to assume a start in the Mission Beach, Mission Bay area. If you are staying north in La Jolla you can take La Jolla Blvd and Mission Blvd south to around Garnet or Grand and then east over to join up at Soledad Mountain Road. I am going to provide a little more detail on this route as this is the basic starting route for many of the other rides described below.
Start on the Mission Bay multi purpose path. Head east on the path around the point and then through Crown Point Park.
The path will end just beyond the park. Continue on Crown Point Dr and then turn right on Pacific Beach Dr. Continue on Pacific Beach Dr until just after you cross over the bridge. Just after your cross the bridge, turn left on the Rose Creek Bike Trail. Stay on the bike trail until you get to Garnet Ave, then come up onto Garnet and cross over onto Soledad Mountain Road. Now you are starting the climb. The climb is about 5.5 km and rises about 250 meters, so it’s a good challenge.
Keep going until you get to the top of Soledad Mountain Road and then turn right on La Jolla Scenic Drive which will take you to the National Veteran’s Memorial at the top of the hill. Get your camera out here for some great pictures.
When you’re finished take the ride back down the mountain the same way you came up. You can really pick up some speed coming down the hill so make sure your brakes are working well!
2. To Poway via SR56 Bike Trail Route – 82 kilometers
If you’re looking for a long quiet ride away from traffic, this is a great ride. The SR56 Bike Trail is a great paved path with some great scenery. It will take you almost all the way to Poway. This route totals 82 km, with 950 meters of climbing.
The route starts in Mission Bay, goes over Mt Soledad, follows the coast north to Torrey Pines then cuts inland via McGonigle Rd and Carmel Valley Road to connect with the SR56 Bike Trail. Continue on the Bike Trail until you come to the intersection of Highway 15 where the bike trail ends. From here continue on Ted Williams Parkway until you hit Pomerado Rd. At the corner there is a shopping centre with a Starbucks. Take a break at the Starbucks before heading home.
When you’re ready to head back follow Pomerado Rd south all the way until it connects with Miramar Blvd. This is the only real “bike unfriendly” part of the ride. Miramar is a pretty busy street and there is no bike lane to speak of. Continue on Miramar and then continue on La Jolla Village Dr until you hit Gilman Dr. Go south on Gilman past Hwy 5 where you will be able to get on the Rose Canyon Bike Path.
The bike path will eventually turn into a small service road called Santa Fe St which you can take until you meet up with Garnet St. Turn right on Garnet and find your way back to the Rose Creek bike trail as described in the Soledad Route above. From here you can navigate back to Mission Bay
3. To Rancho Santa Fe via Torrey Pines – 100 kilometers
Rancho Santa Fe is a great little town inland east of Solana Beach. It has a number of nice restaurants and cafes. On a cool day on the coast, Rancho Santa Fe can be a few degrees warmer than the coast, and makes for a nice place to go if the coast is cool and breezy for cycling. I recommend a stop at Caffe Positano in Rancho Santa Fe. This is about half way in your ride and you can grab some great baked goods with a coffee. The total distance for this ride is 100 kms and has over 1000 meters of climbing.
Follow the route described in the Mt Soledad Route above. Once at the top of Mt Soledad descend along Via Capri (very steep) and then Hidden Valley Rd to the intersection. At the intersection take La Jolla Shores Dr north until it meets up with N Torrey Pines Rd. Continue on this road until you arrive in Del Mar.
In Del Mar turn off on Jimmy Durante Blvd and then right on Via de la Valle all the way to Rancho Santa Fe. Just before you arrive at Passeo Delicious (this is the main street) in Rancho Sante Fe take a right on Las Colinas and take the Las Colinas – El Vuelo loop which has some beautiful scenery and which will take you back to Passeo Delicias where you can turn left and head into Rancho Sante Fe for your break at Caffe Positano.
Once you’ve finished your coffee, head east on Passeo Delicias just out of town and then turn left on El Montevideo. Not long after turning, turn right on Lago Lindo and left on El Camino Del Norte. Stay on this road all the way to Olivenhain. Then turn right on Rancho Sante Fe Rd to Calle Barcelona and then take Leucadia Blvd or La Costa Ave to the coast. Once on the coast follow scenic highway 101 back to Del Mar and eventually back to Mission Bay.