Santa Monica feels like a community tailor-made for cyclists… partly because it is. Stunning ocean views. A clear and gentle climate. An urban design that caters to riders with green bike lanes and convenient bike corrals. This town is meant to be seen on two wheels. And between easy beach riding and thrilling mountain trails, every cyclist is guaranteed to find their best Santa Monica bike routes.
So grab your mountain bike or townie bike and start your ride on one of these Santa Monica classics.
If You Want To Hit The Beach
Want to experience Santa Monica’s oceanfront at its best? Rent a bike from a local cyclist and take in one of the most famous bike trails in L.A. County.
Marvin Braude Bike Trail
That’s the official name. However, locals call it “The Strand.” This 22-mile route starts at Will Rogers State Beach in Pacific Palisades and along the coast to Torrance County Beach. Tourists love The Strand as it offers a more dynamic way to experience the best of Santa Monica. You’ll catch surfers finding new lines at Santa Monica State Beach before going underneath Santa Monica Pier and winding up at Muscle Beach. The Strand guides you along through Marina del Rey before hitting a row of famous beaches. Highlights include Playa del Rey, Venice, El Segundo, Manhattan, Hermosa, Redondo, and Torrance.
Before you go, here are a few pro tips. This is a multi-use recreational path and pedestrians don’t always pay attention to the sign. Plus, you will run into some motorists when The Strand runs along Washington Boulevard in Marina del Rey.
In-Town Bike Routes
For all its fame and popularity, Santa Monica continues to maintain a small community vibe. Riding through local streets makes it feel like a little village. If you’re looking for a Santa Monica bike route that’s all about the neighborhood, try one of these.
San Vicente Boulevard
When it comes to Santa Monica bike routes, San Vicente Boulevard is a top destination for weekend rides. You’ll start along the loop that circles Brentwood Country Club before catching San Vicente off Wilshire Boulevard and riding all the way down to Ocean Avenue. This is a laid-back three-mile stretch lined with a charming homes and trendy businesses. If you want to take in more of the local vibe with some extra miles, take Ocean Avenue south along the shore into Downtown Santa Monica. Alternatively, you can keep going toward Marina del Rey to tack on an extra six miles.
If you want to casually explore Santa Monica without working up a sweat, we recommend taking Main Street. This road features green bike lanes and three bike corrals to lock your bike before checking out shops and restaurants. In addition, you’ll find the Sunday Farmer’s Market on Main Street – which offers a free bike valet. If you want to venture beyond Main Street – be sure to check out Ocean Park Boulevard, Broadway, and Second Street.
Ride The Santa Monica Mountains
Looking for adventure? Or just a bigger challenge? Look no further than the Santa Monica Mountains. Some of L.A.’s most treasured mountain bike trails are in these beautiful hills. If you’re ready to engage full send, don’t miss out on these trails.
Mandeville Canyon Road
To get started with just the right amount of adventure, we recommend going to Mandeville Canyon Road. This five-mile route borders the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreational Area. Specifically, it’s the longest dead-end paved road in L.A. – making it one of the few roads where you have most of the road to yourself. (Please note that this is a residential area – so be sure to look out for motorists pulling out of driveways). Rising steadily for 1,000 feet, Mandeville Canyon Road is a great way to get some instant cardio. Most importantly, the gradient only reaches 5 percent – which makes this a great “first-time hill climb” for any cyclist.
Sullivan Canyon – Westridge Singletrack Loop
Ready to kick it up a notch? Track down a mountain bike and get into the dirt of the Santa Monica Mountains. This 11.6-mile loop goes through Sullivan Canyon before leading you up Sullivan Fire Road and onto the Westridge Singletrack trail. This route provides a great workout, averaging out to a 5% gradient and maxing out at 23%. Your hard work will be rewarded with incredible views of the city and surrounding beaches. Plus, you can climb the towers at the historic Nike Missile Base.
A few pro tips before you head out. You’ll ride over loose rocks on Sullivan Fire Road, so make sure your tire pressure is set correctly and your senses are in gear. Also, please use caution coming down the Westridge Singletrack – you’ll likely run into a few ruts caused by rainfall.
This ride is a schlep, but trust us when we tell you that it’s well worth it! Santa Monica’s Backbone Trail takes you from Will Rogers State Park to Temescal Ridge. Specifically, it’s a 14.2-mile singletrack loop with a maximum grade of 18%. On a clear day, you’ll catch views of Hollywood and downtown L.A. – along with plenty of ocean views and wildflower sightings. When the term “singletrack” was invented, this is exactly what mountain bikers had in mind. Flowy descents, tight switchback climbs, maximum fun.
However, before you shred too hard – keep these points in mind. Some sections of the trail are filled with loose rocks, so watch your speed. Plus, you will likely find hikers on the first mile (where the hike/bike trails merge early). Finally, there is a bridge that takes you over a rough section of the trail. By law, you will need to dismount and walk your bike across the bridge.
Ready To Ride?
No matter where you’re looking to ride, you will find the Santa Monica bike route that’s right for you. Don’t have a bike? Don’t sweat it! Santa Monica has plenty of bike rental options available. Where can you find the best ride for the job? Rent a bike from a local cyclist. Bike culture is huge in Santa Monica, so you can trust that a bike-sharing service is the best way to save a few bucks and find a well-maintained bike from a new friend.
From beach cruisers to mountain bikes, you can find whatever you need from the Spinlister community. Check out our global map to get started.