Welcome to Long Beach – a city that, while technically still in LA County, somehow feels worlds away from coastal stretches like Venice and Santa Monica. Maybe it’s the lack of surf (the harbor breakwater prevents waves from reaching any would-be Kelly Slaters). Maybe it’s the floating oil rig islands just offshore. Heck, maybe it’s the Atlantic City-esque high-rises towering above Alamitos Beach.
Whatever the case, and whatever the decidedly mixed opinions, one thing’s for certain: this is a cyclist’s city. From the banks of the Los Angeles River to the CSULB campus, Long Beach boasts a far healthier concentration of bike paths and bike-friendly roadways than its northern neighbor. And perhaps none of these is put to better use than the 4-mile Shoreline Trail that stretches from the city’s marina to the base of the Alamitos Peninsula.
At 17 ft (5.2 m) across, this beloved Long Beach bike path is wide enough to offer 6-ft lanes in either direction, while still providing an ample 5-ft track for pedestrians. That’s more than enough space to keep the traffic moving swiftly, and allows for noticeably smooth passes on a trial made up of equal parts road bikes and beach cruisers.
Speaking of smooth, the city does a commendable job of keeping the tarmac clear of sand, which can cause headaches for cyclists both on the trail and well after the ride’s over (have you ever tried wiping individual granules from a greasy bike chain?). You’re therefore free to spend more time enjoying the path and less time avoiding miniature dunes that have accumulated along the edges (we’re looking at you, Venice Beach).
As you work your way over the Shoreline Trail, you’ll notice two cycle-friendly opportunities to get get up close and personal with the Pacific. The first is Long Beach Marina Trail, which takes you on a loop around the city’s 2,600 ft (800 m) boat-lined jetty. Looking south from here, you’re afforded unobstructed views of the famed Queen Mary – a 1930’s-era ocean liner that has been converted into an art deco-themed hotel and tourist attraction. The second is the Belmont Pier, with its ever present assortment of fishermen and curious beach goers.
If you’re looking to extend your ride, the LA River Path can be accessed from the far western end of the Shoreline Trail, so you’re free to stretch this 4-mile cruise into a 30-mile marathon without much trouble at all. For anyone content with a simple, carefree ride along the coast, however, the Long Beach Bike Path certainly won’t disappoint.