Coastal rail-trail experiences don't get much better than this—a long, smooth, palm-tree-lined trail with stunning views of the Pacific, San Diego Bay and the downtown skyline, plus easy access to parks, tot play areas and chic cafes.
Before you start, note that the coastal leg of this bikeway can be windy, especially in the afternoon. If you want the wind mostly at your back, ride the trail from north to south. Paved portions of trail are wheelchair accessible, but a section near 10th Street and Glorietta Boulevard is an on-street bike lane and not a separate trail. Also, the route of the Bayshore Bikeway on the east side of the bay is predominantly on-street bike lanes.
The Bayshore Bikeway sets out from Coronado Ferry Landing and the Ferry Landing Shops & Restaurants. Bring your bike over on the San Diego–Coronado Ferry or rent one at the Bikes & Beyond shop. Head south along the palm tree-lined path past some upscale restaurants and trailside cafes. You can take in wonderful views of the downtown San Diego skyline as you skirt Tidelands Park, with its grassy fields and playground.
Bike underneath the beautiful arching Coronado Bridge, and keep your head up as you roll past the Coronado Golf Course, a public course with million-dollar views. As you wind around the perimeter of the golf course, the separated bike path ends; cross over to the right side of Glorietta Boulevard into the on-road bike lane for a short distance. At 10th Street and Glorietta Boulevard, cross Glorietta and pick up the off-street path again. A sign marking the trail here indicates BAYSHORE BIKEWAY & IMPERIAL BEACH.
To your right you might recognize the signature red roof of the historic Hotel del Coronado. Marilyn Monroe fans may recognize the 1888 hotel as the location for the Miami Beach scenes in "Some Like it Hot." Cutting south from the hotel, the pathway follows the Silver Strand, the narrow spit of land separating San Diego Bay and the Pacific Ocean, where the Coronado branch of the San Diego and Arizona Eastern Railroad once traveled. The railroad began construction under prominent San Diego resident John D. Spreckels in 1906 and was completed in 1919. It was built to link San Diego to the Southern Pacific Railroad in El Centro, CA. In 1932, Spreckel's heirs sold their share of the railroad to Southern Pacific, and in 1933, it became the San Diego and Arizona Eastern Railway.
On the left is the Coronado Community Center and a beautiful bayside park that's perfect for an afternoon picnic. Following the narrow, blustery corridor, with shorelines and sand dunes on both sides of the rail-trail. You'll pass the large U.S. Naval Amphibious Base (where Navy SEALs train), and then a 0.5-mile nature path with observation decks and interpretive signs. At Silver Strand State Beach, pedestrian tunnels beneath State Route 75 offer access to the bigger surf on the ocean side, or the calmer, warmer waters on the bay side.
Beyond the state beach is the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge, which was dedicated in June 1999 and contains the majority of the remaining wetlands, mudflats and eelgrass beds in San Diego Bay. The 3,940-acre refuge supports many endangered and threatened species of flora and fauna, which makes it an important stop on the Pacific Flyway, a north–south migratory bird route along the Americas. Visitors can bird watch from various points along the bike path.
The continuous, paved portion of the rail-trail ends at the south end of San Diego Bay at Main Street in Chula Vista. Bike lanes along streets with light traffic connect to another short portion of trail near the S. Bay Freeway (SR 54) and over the Sweetwater River, connecting to the Sweetwater Bikeway. To complete the 24-mile loop around the bay, the rail-trail links with well-marked on-street bike lanes and bike routes through Chula Vista, National City and downtown San Diego and on to the San Diego-Coronado Ferry.
To reach the Coronado trailhead from downtown San Diego, take Interstate 5 to the SR 75 Exit. Cross the San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge and follow SR 75, which becomes Fourth Street, to Orange Avenue. Turn right (east) onto First Street. A shopping center and the ferry terminal are just south of Orange Avenue and First Street. Park in the shopping center lot or on the street.
To reach the Imperial Beach trailhead, from the terminus of I-5 in Chula Vista, take SR 75/Palm Avenue east to 13th Street and turn right (north) to the trailhead parking lot.