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 routes in San Diego are found 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.
Where to Stay When Cycling in San Diego
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 five favourite cycling routes in the San Diego area. I like the challenge of some climbing and most of these routes involve a fair amount of climbing. If you are looking for an easier, flatter route, check out Route #4 which is a loop around Mission Bay and Fiesta Island, or Route #5 to Point Loma. I have these San Diego 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.
Best Cycling Routes In San Diego – Route #1 – La Jolla Mt Soledad Cycling Route – 25 kilometers
This cycling 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 cycling 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 your bike ride on the Mission Bay multi purpose path. Head east on the path around the point and then through Crown Point Park. Watch this Youtube video to get an idea of of what it’s like to ride the path.
The path will end just beyond the park. Continue on Crown Point Dr and then turn right on Pacific Beach Dr. Next continue on Pacific Beach Dr until just after you cross over the bridge. Once you’ve crossed 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!
Route #2 – To Poway via SR56 Bike Trail Route – 82 kilometers
If you’re looking for a long quiet bike ride away from traffic, this is it. The SR56 Bike Trail is a nicely paved path with great scenery. It will take you almost all the way to Poway. This route totals 82 km, with 950 meters of climbing.
This cycling 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. The bike trail is a very gradual uphill climb towards Poway. 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
Best Cycling Routes In San Diego – Route #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. On the way back home you’ll ride along the coast with some fantastic views of the Pacific Ocean. The total distance for this ride is 100 kms and has over 1000 meters of climbing.
Follow the cycling 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. Enjoy the downhill section on N Torrey Pines Road with the fabulous view of Torrey Pines Beach and the view towards Del Mar. 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 via Encinitas and Solana Beach, and then eventually back to Mission Bay.
Route #4 – Mission Bay Loop and Fiesta Island
If you are looking for an easier and flatter route, then this is the cycling route for you. This route follows a paved path around Mission Bay. You can also loop around Fiesta Island which is located in the Bay and provides great scenery.
Start on the Mission Bay multi purpose path on the west side of Mission Bay. 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. Next continue on Pacific Beach Dr over the Rose Inlet bridge where Pacific Beach Dr becomes N Mission Bay Dr. Cycle along N Mission Bay Dr for a few minutes until you get to De Anza Cove Park. Here you can get back on the multi purpose path. The path will take you along the east side of Mission Bay. Continue until you arrive at Fiesta Island Rd. Here turn right and continue on Fiesta Island Road which will bring you in a loop around the island.
Fiesta Island is a popular location for charity walks and runs, bicycle races, time trials and other special events. Picnicking is also allowed on the island. If you enjoy flat, nearly car-free beachside biking, the Fiesta Island loop is a must-ride. The loop is four miles long, so depending on how many miles you want to ride, you can continue for multiple loops. Technically, there is no bike lane since cyclists are legally permitted to occupy the entire roadway. Also, the loop is one-way headed in a counterclockwise direction so you never have to worry about oncoming traffic.
When you’ve done your loops on Fiesta Island, return to your home base the way you came via the Mission Bay Path.
Best Cycling Routes In San Diego – Route #5 – Point Loma and Cabrillo National Monument
This is another fairly flat route, with an option for a few hills if you are up for it. The bike ride goes south from Mission Bay towards Ocean Beach and then to Point Loma. This is a beautiful ride, especially when you hit Cabrillo Memorial Drive down to Point Loma. The scenery is beautiful, you can see the downtown area, the harbour, and Coronado Island from this area. Once you get into Cabrillo National Monument you have the option of going down the hill almost to the water. The total ride should be about 24 miles.
To start the ride in Mission Bay ride south along the Mission Bay path. Where the path ends get onto W Mission Bay Dr and cross the first bridge. You can also ride along Mariners Way for a while if you want to avoid W Mission Bay Dr before the bridge. After crossing the bridge, use the path that loops under the bridge to get onto Quivira Road. Continue on Quivira until you see the Sunset Cliffs Blvd bridge. Here take the small path to the left which will get you up to where you can cross the bridge.
Once over the bridge, you have two options depending on whether you want to ride up a fairly challenging steep hill. If you want flatter terrain take Option 1 and follow Nimitz Ave to Catalina Blvd, where you turn right. If you are up for the hill challenge, you can take option 2 and ride through the beautiful community of Ocean Beach. After the bridge stay on Sunsets Cliff Blvd and continue for a while until you get to Hill St. At Hill St turn left and head up the challenging hill. After climbing the hill you will turn right on Catalina Blvd.
Now the two options merge back together. Continue on Catalina until it turns into Cabrillo Memorial Dr. Next continue on this road until it brings you to the gate for Cabrillo National Monument. Here you have a few choices. If you want to ride the hill down towards the ocean (and back up again!) you may have to pay the $10 park entry fee. If you are here early in the morning and no one is at the gate you can ride through. If you are not interested in riding the hill head back home the same way you came.
For those that are keen for a hill ride turn right on Cabrillo Rd after passing the park gate. This will provide you with a great view as you roll down the hill. At the bottom check out the scenery (and the tide pools if you want) and then climb back up the hill. Repeat the hill climb if you are really keen. When tired, head back home via the same route. Enjoy!
If you’re interested in reading about another city that has some great cycling, read my Best Cycling Routes in Scottsdale post.
Now that you have experience with the Best Cycling Routes in San Diego, find some other great things to do in San Diego, see our One Week San Diego Itinerary.
109 thoughts on “Best Cycling Routes in San Diego”
Hi Charles thanks for all the details on the routes! Would you share route# 2 with me on Strava?
Hi Manuel, sorry only got your comment now, as it went into my junk mail for some reason. I will send you the route on Strava.
I will love the route too on strava. I cant seem to plan it or know where to take
Hi Sergio. Do you have a Strava account?
Could you please send me route #2 in Strava?
Hi Hugh, I have two versions of that cycling route. They go out the same way but come back slightly differently. I sent you both. It’s a great ride!
Hi Charles, thanks for the great rides. I’m heading to SD on vacation next week and started looking for ride suggestions. These look perfect. Do you mind sharing all of them with me on strava? I’ll send you a follow request.
Thanks, Rick Patterson
I’ve shared the routes. Enjoy the rides, and let us know what you think of them!
Awesome, thank you! I’ll let you know how it goes.
Charles – Can you share with me the routes on Strava with me.
I am here looking for places to live and rented a nice bike and want to get in a few rides. Really too bad there are not club rides as I would just hook up with a group. My Strava name is Kevin Cleary.
I am staging from the Balboa Park area but can also drive to start locations.
Again, thank you!
Will do. I guess there are no club rides during the COVID. My brother in law joins club rides when we are there.
Can you please share the strava with me? Everything you’ve mentioned. I’m a beginner and these would help me out so much! My name is Lala Turlee on Strava.
I will try to share some routes with you today!
Hello Charles Pulfer I was wondering if you could share these routes with me on strava, Francisco Benavides on strava. Begginer rider here looking for some good rides around San Diego. Thanks Charles Pulfer
Hi Francisco, I shared a number of routes with you. Some of the routes are a bit challenging, but you can always do portions and work your way up to the full rides. Have fun!
I love these! I’m a beginner and all the rides look fun and challenging. Do you mind sharing all of them with me on strava? My user name Teto Martinez.
Thank you 🙂
Happy to share the rides with you. I couldn’t find you on Strava, I think others have similar names. perhaps you can follow me first (Charlie Pulfer) and then I will be able to share the rides. Cheers, Charlie.
Hey Charlie, thank you for the quick response.
Awesome! I just followed you 🙂
Once again, thank you.
I followed you, do you mind sharing me the rides? They look fun!
Hi Andrew, yes no problem will share the rides. Hope you enjoy them.
Any chance you could send me the routes? I’m heading to SD this coming weekend and want to try a couple of them. Thanks for the info!
Hi Sandra, do you have a Strava account? If so, the easiest thing to do is to follow me – Charlie Pulfer on Strava, then I will be able to see your name and can send you the routes.
Headed to San Diego for the Holiday. Looks like they are headed for a shutdown, and I need something to do. I’m not an advanced rider, but I would love to try portions of the routes you have created.
Are you a Strava user? If so can you send me your exact Strava name and your location so I will be able to find you in the Strava directory.
Could you please share all the routes with me on Strava? My user name is Michael Endelman – thanks!
Hi Michael, I just sent them to your email. Hopefully that worked. Hope you enjoy the rides!
I just followed you on Strava, do you mind sharing the routes? Thanks!
Hi Yasmin, I just shared the routes. Hope you enjoy!
I’d really like these routes please!!!
I’m on Strava under Gary Hussey
I’d love these routes too please – Daniel Lawrence on Strava.
Hi Daniel. I emailed you the links to the Routes. Enjoy!
I tried to friend you on Strava but couldn’t find you.
Can you please send me the routes. Especially the one that goes along the 56.
Hi Brian, yes sure I will send those over. The path along 56 is really nice!
Could you please share all the routes with me on Strava? My user name is Kiefer Grindle – thanks!
Hi Kiefer, just sent them out to you…Charlie
Thanks for the detailed coverage of the amazing routes in SD. I am a transplant from the East Coast and looking for some fun bike routes in the area. Can you share these routes with me on Strava? I could not find them and don’t see many Clubs listed in the RB area. Any recommendations?
Hi Karthik, I am also from the east coast. My blog is from my vacation time in San Diego, I’ve been a few times. Can’t help you with clubs in the San Diego area but I will send you the Strava routes!
Hello Charles, another Charles here
Could you send me the routes preferably in some exchange format like .gpx or in RidewithGPS but if you only have them on Strava that works too. Email attached or Charles Smile on RidewithGPS and Strava
Hi Charles, unfortunately I don’t have them in GPX. I have sent you the Strava routes (via email). Hope you enjoy!
Hi Charlie! I think I followed you but it’s says you’re from Ottawa. I’m also an east coast transplant. Care to share those routes? ilana yitzhaki on Strava. Thanks!
Hello Ilana, I am only a part time transplant. i try to get out west for a few weeks each year. otherwise we suffer through the winter 🙂 I will send you the routes via email.
Thanks so much!
Hi Charles, excellent article thank you. Will be visiting from AZ for a week and staying in PB. Please can you share the routes on Strava with me too or by email if you prefer
Hi Ian, glad the information can be of use to you and others. Enjoy your stay. I will forward the routes via email.
Hi Charles! Great write up, very informative!
My GF and group of friends recently got into road biking due to the lockdown. We would like to try to some of these routes in the future. Do you think you can send them to me please?
Hi Gio, these are some great rides to do in groups! Always good to tuck in behind someone else to save energy on the longer rides! I will send over the routes.
Hi Charles, thanks for writing this very informative article. I’m from Mexico and I’ll be visiting San Diego in a few months. I was wondering if you can share the routes on Strava with me too.
Greetings from Mexico City!
Gracias Paolo, te mando las rutas (hablo un poco español)!
Travelling to San Diego soon, please share all your routes to my Strava?
Username: Tommy Persons
thanks in advance,
Hi Tommy, will send via email.
Hi, I’m visiting Sd and would love to explore it via bike, could you send me these routes via Strava?
Sure, will do!
Could you send me the routes on Strava? Thanks for the helpful insight.
Hi Jeremy, I will email them to you,
May I have the routes on Strava as well?
Hi Bryan, routes are on the way!
There is a scenic calming 5 mile path around Lake Miramar with lots of free parking
Another option is a beautiful path, mostly along the ocean, north of Camp Pendleton. Exit on Las Pulgas and go east just a little. Free parking available.
I’m in SD now & wanna do some cycling.
Can u send me all ur routes in Strava & do u also have it in Garmin ?
My strava ac is Peter Sutanto
Hi Peter, I don’t have any of the routes in Garmin, just Strava. I will email you the link to the routes. Charlie
Hey Charles could you send me the routes in strava? Will be visiting San Diego later this week hoping to rent a bike for a day or two. Starting from la Mesa but hoping to maybe connect to one of these routes. My strava is Shedrick Elliott III or can email me links
Sure I will email them.
Hey Charles – Can you send me the routes in strava?
I sent you the Strava routes. Enjoy!
Hi Charles, can you send me the strava routes please! Also, thank you in advance.
Hi Andrew, I guess the temperature is good in San Diego, not like in some parts of California. Enjoy the rides!
Hi Charles. Great article. About how many kilometers is Route 4, the Mission Bay Loop? Thanks.
Hi James, I never measured that loop, but I’m guessing it’s about 20 Km. Charlie
Great article! Just what I was looking for. I would love your routes on Strava if you have time to send them my way.
Hi Amy, Thanks for the feedback! I will forward the routes to you by email.
Hi, could you please send these routes on strava to my email? Thanks so much!
Hi Mike, yes, on the way!
Hi, coming to Mission Beach from Evergreen, CO next Wednesday, 9/1. Would it be possible to get the routes above from you in either Strava or Ride with GPS (gpx files) to load to my Wahoo ELEMNT?
NP will send them along shortly.
Heading to SD next month and would love the routes for my navigation unit. Much appreciated!
Hi! Thanks for the great write up. My husband and I are coming in town this weekend and would love to have your Strava routes or if possible. Thanks!
Thanks Sarah, I will send them along. Enjoy the weekend riding!
Hi can you share the second route with me on strava?
Can you send me the Strava Map for Route 1
Sure, will do!
Hi Charles. I appreciate these great rides with all your helpful commentary. Could you please share all of these rides with me via Strava? I am James Santos. Looking forward to doing a few of these when I visit in November. I will be renting a road bike from a store in downtown SD. Staying on the Point Loma Naval Base. Thanks in advance! James
Thanks James, I will send them to your email address. Enjoy your time in SD in November!
Hi James! Curious to know your experience with renting a roadbike during your stay in SD. Will be doing the same during my 10 day vacation in December 🙂 Any information you can share would be super helpful.
Thanks in advance,
Hi Charles, I just moved to San Diego and all these sound amazing! Would you kindly please share all of these routes with me via Strava? I am “Mar M”. I look forward to explore San Diego this way! Thanks!
Hi Mar, good luck with your San Diego explorations. It’s a beautiful place. I sent the routes to you via email. Charlie
Hi Charlie, tried to find you on Strava interested in some of the routes you suggested! I’m visiting San Diego in December and will be renting a roadbike during my stay.
Mar, was wondering if you’d be interested in riding together?
Any chance you can share your routes on Strava? My account is Leah Modlin
Thanks in advance 🙂
Hello, Ride #3. Looks great. We will be passing through San Diego next week and we would love to give it a try. Is it very steep?. Would you be able to share the strava route link? Thanks
Hi Eileen, the ride is a combination of climbs rather than one or two very steep climbs. I will email you the route.
Hi! Love the routes! I’m new to the area. Anyway you could send me all 5? Thanks so much!
Will do Jeremy!
Hi! Thanks so much for putting this together, the routes all look great!! Could you send me all 5? Thanks again!
Hello Jose, glad you like the routes! I will send them over this aft.
hi! i’m moving to san diego later this year and looked up some recommended bike routes in the area. these all look really great, i would definitely be interested in all 5! thanks 😀
You will enjoy San Diego. It’s a great place to ride! I have sent the routes.
awesome, thank you so much, i really appreciate it! this definitely has me looking forward to the move.
I would love all 5/five of these routes if you would be willing to share on Strava. Thank you for all the information!
Just in town for the weekend. Looking for a couple of good rides.
Could you send me the Strava routes. Thanks
Sending them over. Enjoy your weekend!
Hi Charles, I’d love these Strava routes, these rides look fantastic! Martin
Hi Martin, you will enjoy the rides. Have fun!
Hi Charles- Heading to SD for a week’s vacation – your routes are awesome. I am staying at de del Mar area – seems like route 2 and 3 can work, can you please share them on Strava? any other route suggestion that includes some hills?
Thanks a lot!
Hi Rafael, thanks for the feedback. I will share routes 2 and 3 via email. I also shared a Torrey Pines route. The hill in the park is short and steep!
Thanks a lot Charlie! the Torrey Pines route looks great .. driving there tomorrow.
These are great routes Charles! I am coming to San Diego for a month and would love the routes for 2 & 4. Thanks in advance
Thanks Ellie. Hope you enjoy your time in SD. I will email the routes.
These look like great routes. Please share the Strava routes with me, including that new Torrey Pines one that you mentioned recently. Thanks!
Could you please share these routes with me on Strava?
Hi Justin, I forwarded the routes…enjoy!
Can I please have the Strava for Route 2. It looks amazing!