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, your hydration pack or messenger bag, and hit up one of these top Santa Monica bike routes.
If You Want a Beach Bike Ride
Looking for that iconic Santa Monica outdoor experience? Grab your beach cruiser or rent a bike from a local cyclist and hit up one of the most famous bike trails in L.A. County.
Marvin Braude Bike Trail
That’s the official name. But if you’re new to Santa Monica and want to sound like a local, call it “The Strand.” This 22-mile stretch starts at Will Rogers State Beach in Pacific Palisades and runs south along the coast all the way to Torrance County Beach. Tourists love The Strand as it offers a more dynamic way to experience the classic Santa Monica. Watch the surfing at Santa Monica State Beach, follow the trail underneath Santa Monica Pier, and take your own bike tour of Muscle Beach. The Strand guides you along through Marina del Rey, then ushers you past the beaches in Playa del Rey, Venice, El Segundo, Manhattan, Hermosa, Redondo, and Torrance.
A few quick tips: This is a multi-use recreational path and pedestrians don’t always pay attention to the signs, so keep an eye out for people wandering into your path. The Strand also runs along Washington Boulevard in Marina del Rey, but that is the only area of the trail where you run into motorists.
In Town Bike Routes
For all its fame and popularity, Santa Monica has a way of cultivating that small community vibe. A morning ride through local streets can make this popular city feel like your own little village, even if you’re not from around here. If you’re looking for a Santa Monica bike route to make you feel connected to the local life, try one of these.
San Vicente Boulevard
San Vicente Boulevard is among the favorite Santa Monica bike routes for weekend cyclists. Many riders warm up along the loop that circles the Brentwood Country Club, then catch San Vicente off Wilshire Boulevard, riding the path all the way down to Ocean Avenue. This stretch is about three easy miles, lined with a charming homes and trendy businesses. For a little more time in the saddle and a more in-depth tour of the community, take Ocean Avenue south along the shore and into Downtown Santa Monica. Or push on to Marina del Rey to extend this route another six miles.
If you’re not looking for a workout as much as an enjoyable way to explore the town, Main
Street is probably your ideal Santa Monica bike route. This road features green bike lanes as well as three bike corrals, making it easy to cruise through town and stop at any of the shops or restaurants that catch your interest. Main Street is also the site of the Sunday farmers market, which offers a free bike valet. If you want to venture beyond Main Street, you’ll find more bike-friendly riding and plenty of local charm along Ocean Park Boulevard, Broadway, and Second Street.
Best Santa Monica Mountains Bike Routes
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. For some heart-pounding outdoor exploration, try one of these routes.
Mandeville Canyon Road
If you’re not quite ready to look into a mountain bike rental but still want to push yourself beyond the tamer Santa Monica bike routes, Mandeville Canyon Road should be your go-to. This five-mile route borders Santa Monica Mountains National Recreational Area and is the longest dead-end, paved road in L.A., making it a great option for cyclists hoping to avoid motorists. (But do look out for cars leaving driveways. Just like cyclists, careless motorists can get a little too confident on quiet streets.) With a gradual ascent of 1,000 feet, Mandeville Canyon Road offers a consistent challenge and some stellar cardio. But thanks to its gentle, 5% grade, this route is friendly for cyclists of all experience levels.
Sullivan Canyon – Westridge Singletrack Loop
Ready to kick it up a notch? Track down a mountain bike and hit up this scenic trail in the Santa Monica Mountains. The 11.6-mile loop guides you down into Sullivan Canyon, then back up along the steep incline of Sullivan Fire Road and onto the Westridge Singletrack. This route provides a great workout, with an average grade of 5% and a maximum grade of 23%. The rewards for your hard work are incredible city and ocean views and the opportunity to climb the towers at the historic Nike Missile Base. Expect loose rocks on the Sullivan Fire Road, and use caution coming down the Westridge Singletrack, as there are some ruts from rainfall.
Santa Monica’s Backbone Trail is hugely popular among hikers, and the bike route from Will Rogers State Park to Temescal Ridge is well-worth the hard-earned journey. The 14.2 mile loop is primarily singletrack with a maximum grade of 18%. All along the way, you can expect breath-taking ocean views, wildflowers, and—on a clear day—views of Hollywood and downtown L.A. Expect thrilling tight turns, smooth descents, and plenty of switchbacks. But use caution: some sections of the trail have loose pebbles, and you will encounter several hikers in the first mile. There is also a bridge covering an especially rough section of the trail; you are required by law to walk your bike across this bridge.
Ready to Hit the Road?
No matter your fitness or experience level, there’s a Santa Monica bike route for you. So saddle up and hit the pavement.
Don’t have a bike? Don’t sweat it. Whether you’re new to the area, you’re not ready to invest in your own ride, or you’re in town on vacation, the city has some of the best bike rental options available. Your best bet? 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, consume less, and find a well-maintained bike that’s perfect for your chosen route.
From beach cruisers to mountain bikes, you can find whatever you need from the renters on Spinlister. Check out our site to get started.