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California

Cycling in California

Bike Touring

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Sure it’s got Hollywood and Silicon Valley but cycling in California will show you just how much jaw-dropping natural landscape this state has to offer. The third-largest state in the USA, California’s geology is incredibly diverse and that means you can find gorgeous flat routes, undulating hill trails and gloriously difficult mountain rides. 

Blessed with mountain ranges, cycle routes in California can take you to heady heights as well as provide you with endless foothills to climb up and whizz down. Cycleways take you along California’s phenomenal Pacific coastline for hundreds of miles and along dirt tracks through desert scrubland. With a monumental central valley, you can enjoy flat rides along rivers and through preserves. 

Californian cities are often very bike-friendly too, with plenty of cycle paths that lead you from place to place, coffee shop to coffee shop.


Top 20 cycling routes in California

    1
    Difficult
    03:54
    31.2 mi
    8.0 mph
    4,375 ft
    4,375 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.
    View
    2
    Intermediate
    02:43
    26.3 mi
    9.7 mph
    1,450 ft
    1,450 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.
    View
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  • 3
    Intermediate
    03:05
    33.3 mi
    10.8 mph
    200 ft
    200 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.
    View
    4
    Difficult
    04:03
    28.6 mi
    7.1 mph
    3,500 ft
    3,500 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.
    View
    5
    Difficult
    03:15
    24.3 mi
    7.5 mph
    2,800 ft
    2,800 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.
    View
    6
    Intermediate
    02:19
    23.5 mi
    10.1 mph
    1,075 ft
    1,075 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.
    View
    7
    Difficult
    03:16
    31.0 mi
    9.5 mph
    1,975 ft
    1,975 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.
    View
    8
    Difficult
    02:58
    27.1 mi
    9.1 mph
    2,025 ft
    2,025 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.
    View
    9
    Intermediate
    02:51
    30.5 mi
    10.7 mph
    575 ft
    575 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.
    View
    10
    Intermediate
    01:59
    20.4 mi
    10.3 mph
    725 ft
    725 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.
    View
    11
    Intermediate
    01:58
    18.8 mi
    9.6 mph
    1,250 ft
    1,250 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.
    View
    12
    Difficult
    03:14
    28.0 mi
    8.6 mph
    2,850 ft
    2,850 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.
    View
    13
    Difficult
    02:37
    25.3 mi
    9.7 mph
    1,575 ft
    1,575 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.
    View
    14
    Difficult
    04:19
    34.6 mi
    8.0 mph
    4,775 ft
    4,775 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.
    View
    15
    Intermediate
    01:50
    17.7 mi
    9.7 mph
    1,075 ft
    1,075 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.
    View
    16
    Easy
    01:42
    18.6 mi
    10.9 mph
    300 ft
    300 ft
    Easy bike ride. Great for any fitness level. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.
    View
    17
    Difficult
    02:40
    25.2 mi
    9.4 mph
    2,000 ft
    2,000 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.
    View
    18
    Easy
    01:52
    19.8 mi
    10.6 mph
    425 ft
    425 ft
    Easy bike ride. Great for any fitness level. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.
    View
    19
    Intermediate
    02:56
    30.4 mi
    10.3 mph
    1,175 ft
    1,175 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.
    View
    20
    Intermediate
    01:55
    19.1 mi
    10.0 mph
    900 ft
    900 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.
    View

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More Information

Pedaling the Pacific coast

Perhaps there’s no better way to start talking about cycling in California than pedaling across San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. From the hilly city, crossing the bridge places you right in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and you can ride along the Pacific coast or along the bayside. 

Los Angeles is a paradise for cyclists wanting to have a permanent sea view. You can ride for miles along beachside cycle paths, car-free and with plenty of cafes to pause at. Out of the cities, coastal cycle routes in California get wild and rugged too. The Big Sur coast is famed for its astounding, jagged beauty; so if its big views you’re after, you’re guaranteed them here. 

Marvellous mountainous adventures

Lake Tahoe, on the Nevadan border east of Sacramento, is a hotspot for cyclists of every type. Extreme climbs and matching descents challenge even the best of riders while paradisiacal trails around the lake will make your heart soar. Ride through towering forests of Douglas Fir and enjoy the family-friendly cycle routes under the watchful gaze of huge mountains. 

In the Santa Monica mountains just north west of LA, you could cycle for hours and never see a car. Instead, you might catch the pros training on the exceptionally challenging ascents, which always give way to breathtaking descents where the brakes will be your best friend. 

In Mt. Tamalpais State Park, ride through exceptional scenery with redwoods, lengthy climbs and jaw-dropping ocean views. Routes here are never easy but they are the kind that are so incredible, you won’t even mind the fourth climb of the day. 

Preparing for cycling through California

Wherever you enjoy bike rides in California, there are a few things to bear in mind. Under-18s must wear helmets by law and it’s advisable that if you’re on a bike, a helmet is on your head whatever your age. Unlike many places, Californian law requires cyclists to hug the edge of the road rather than take up a dominant road stance. Remember though, if you’re no fan of cycling in traffic, the state has plentiful traffic-free and quiet routes you can choose instead. 

When you go up into hilly and mountainous areas, you may quickly find yourself totally alone and without any mobile phone signal. Being prepared with snacks, water and tools is crucial. In mountains, descents can be hair-raising so always check the health of your brakes first. 

California's best cycling routes on the map

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