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The Avila Beach section of the 2-segment "Bob Jones" City to the Sea Trail is a short but delightful ride down to the ocean along San Luis Obispo Creek. Starting at the Ontario Road park-and-ride lot, the trail traverses a rocky hillside covered in mature oaks, passes a vineyard and two private communities, takes to a private road along the creek then crosses a golf course and the creek to enter Avila Beach (where the trail ends).
The trail is scenic and offers a variety to see and do along the way. Cyclists can loop back on Avila Beach Drive, which has wide shoulders.
The upper end of the trail in San Luis Obispo is a 1-mile stretch running between Prado Road (where there's the new footbridge) and extending past the city sewer plant. There are plans to close the 4.5 mile gap between the segments.
For the southern segment, park at Avila State Beach off Avila Beach Drive or at the park-and-ride lot on Ontario Rd. For the northern segment, access is at Prado Road (no parking).
There's good parking at the East end of the trail. Exit 101 and go toward Avila. Turn right at the first road (about 1/4 mile) and go over the bridge. The beginning of the trail is on the left and the parking is on the right. There is now a camera on a pole and the parking lot is patrolled due to thefts last year.
The trail itself is fairly well maintained except for an area where roots have affected the asphalt.
The trail gets very crowded on the weekends and holidays between 9 am and 3 pm. There are dog walkers, joggers, kids and families riding bikes, and people walking. It's a good idea to have a bell.
At the end of the trail, you can continue out to the port, an extra 1.1 miles or just ride up to the town of Avila. There's a nice coffee shop across from the beach at the South end of the shops that also sells boxes of water. :-)
Parking and starting in Avila is more difficult as beachgoers will take up the parking, especially between 9 am and 2 or 3 pm. It is possible to park on Winter weekdays.
The County is extending the trail to connect it with downtown.
I understand that the trail starts on SLO. I took the shorter southern route starting from the 101 to Avila beach. Very shady as it winds alongside SLO creek. There is some kind of resort about halfway through that has some resting areas. On a hot summer day, this ride is cool, shady and nice.
TrailBear is headed up US 101, on the way to the San Juan Islands. Slow down to check out the new intersection in San Luis O - where his son in law is the engineer. 35.243425° -120.681557°
Something new in addition to the intersection - a bit of trail at the bottom of the sewer plant. Gotta check this out. Come about, park and walk up to see.
It extends the trail from the triangular settling pond at the south end of the sewer plant (or - waste water treatment facility) down to the intersection.
Here you pick up a bike lane for the ride down to the Johnson Ranch trailhead. From there you share the frontage road down to the upper trailhead at the Avila Beach section of trail.
The new section features a bridge over a small creek, an info kiosk with map and a parking stall for maintenance vehicles. Short, but nice.
Now you can ride from sewer to the sea. Enjoy.
TrailBear is back on the Bob Jones again, this time on a comfy trike by HP Velotechnik. It's like riding a recliner. Pure comfort.
The Bob Jones Trail down at Avila is a charming ride, but a tad bit short. This time TB started the ride several miles further on - out at Port San Luis and added 2+ miles of riding and lots of scenery.
Just head through town and out to the port on Avila Beach Drive. There is plenty of parking and all sorts of attractions out at the pier(s): restaurants, fishing, boat rentals, day boats, camping, shopping.
He pulled the Scorpion FS trike out of the van, unfolded it, mounted the panniers and electronics and was off to poke about the port, then head back to Avila along the the beach drive. If you have an RV, there are a number of pull outs that offer camping - virtually waterfront and very scenic with large views over the bay and way down the coast. It was a glorious sunny day - a great day for a ride.
When you cross the bridge into Avila and pass the beach park (restrooms, water, views, etc.), look left at the first stop light (which appears to be a new one). This is the trail end. The trail now runs in a sunken lane on the far side of the street and now skirts the waste water treatment plant on the left side, vs. the old way via the parking lot there. They have put up a new arch at that point. From there it's the same trail - over the golf course bridge, a bit of road, etc. down to the trailhead near the highway.
Slow down, relax and enjoy the unfolding views. TB had to. Lots of peds on the trail.
Lazing about on his trike.
THE BOB JONES “CITY TO THE SEA” TRAIL
Avila Beach, CA
The Bob Jones “City to the Sea” Trail in Avila Beach, CA is an enjoyable and scenic little ride – 2.84 miles. Give it 5 stars for pavement and scenery and 3 for facilities. It is the lower portion of a project of the Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County. Their goal is to run a trail up San Luis Obispo Creek from Avila Beach to San Luis Obispo. There is an upper section open, running by the SLO sewer plant. TrailBear has BTDT and says: The ride you want is down at the beach.
AVILA BEACH PARK, 0.00 MI., GE: N35.17961 W120.73645
You can start the beach ride from two locations – the Ontario Rd. Park N Ride lot or the Avila Beach Park on the beach in Avila Beach. A dusty lot in the weeds or a beach front trailhead? Decisions, decisions.
TrailBear went for the beach trail head. Get there early on a week day and you have choice of parking. Summer must be a zoo. By the time TB was back and loading up – about 1100 – there was a constant throb of engines as cars slowly cruised round and round, looking, praying for a parking space to open. TB made one a Happy Camper. He saw Der Bear’s flashers and backed up smartly, then dove in. Mine!
The little beach park is a full service trailhead. There is a six unit restroom with cabin-style flushies, water fountains, park benches with views, picnic tables with BBQs and a tot lot with a ship and numerous tots. Saddle up and head down the road (wide parking/bike lanes) to the…
THE SEWER PLANT CROSSING, 0.66 MI, GE: N35.18177 W120.73269
This is a bike trail. There has to be a sewer under it or a sewer plant along side it. In the case of the BJT, you get a Twofer.
Press the button and the light probably flash. Can’t see; pointed the other way. There is no light for the ped or biker, so watch out when crossing. Is the light working? Does anyone care? The town sewer plant is on the far side. Avila Beach is smart so they have the sewer plant starter kit with one aeration tank. The entrance to the trail is signed. There is a parking lot there, but the bollards are up, so you can’t use it. It’s on a curve, so you are better off down at the beach. Just beyond is …
THE GOLF COURSE BRIDGE, 0.70 MI, GE: N35.18252 W120.73287
An attractive multipurpose bridge for peds, bikes, golf carts, etc. Today the trail was getting a lot of use. Parties of walkers, mums with prams, dog walkers, bikies all going up or down. Cross the bridge, climb a bit and get onto the private two lane road …
BLUE HERON DRIVE
You ride along a section of Blue Heron Drive. This is a gated road and seems more in use by the trail traffic than cars. TrailBear did not see a car going or coming. Ride up to the overlook on the curve, down the hill at 18.7 mph and around the bend to …
THE MARRE WEIR, 1.25 MI, GE: N35.18754 W120.72603
This is different. It’s a sheet piling weir dam. Probably went in faster and cheaper than the concrete version. There is a small falls for the salmon to leap and an interpretative sign on the road. Just beyond the dam is …
THE SAN LUIS BAY ESTATES REACH, 1.30, GE: N35.18803 W120.72584
Here you leave the shared road and get back onto the Class I trail, which now runs under the San Luis Bay Estates. Shortly you will be riding alongside the Avila Bay Club rec area. Those picnic tables, basket ball courts and tot lot are not for you. Private property; stay on the trail. In fact, watch the trail with care. This section has unmarked root heaves – a 2* section of pavement. The rest of the trail pavement is 5*. You leave the rec area behind and dive under the …
SAN LUIS BAY RD. UNDERPASS, 1.77 MI, GE: N35.18866 W120.71906
On Googel Earth you can see them building this underpass. On the far side you come up in the Vineyard Reach – 0.22 miles of vineyards along the trail. They give way to woods. You cross a small creek and there is the…
BOB JONES MEMORIAL BENCH, 2.06 MI, GE: N35.18848 W120.71442
Bob Jones’ bench and little See Creek mark the start of the Oaks Reach. On your left is a rocky slope covered in mature oaks casting a dappled shade over the trail. On you right is the creek. There are a number of memorial benches scattered along. This is a very pleasant stretch of trail A bit further on you find …
THE TREE IN THE STONE, 2.46 MI, GE: N35.18677 W120.70842
Here a rather large tree is growing out of a rather large rock. There is a bench adjacent, so you can contemplate this situation. When done, ride on to the …
ONTARIO RD. XING, 2.83 MI, GE: N35.18523 W120.70336
The trail leaves the oaks behind and crosses Ontario Rd. to the Park N Ride lot. You are warned that the traffic does not stop, so pick your moment to dash across and end your ride at the …
RESTROOM AT THE PARK & RIDE, 2.84 MI, GE: N35.18578 W120.70282
They call it a Park N Ride, but the lot seemed to be full of a lot of cars with bike racks. And it was rather full up. It is more trailhead than Park N Ride today. It even has a vault toilet – rare in a parking lot.
Now you can turn around and retrace the trail or take Ontario Rd. down to the Avila Beach Dr. and loop back that way. There are bike lanes and they look about 3’ wide, so it’s not bad.
THE REST OF THE RIDE…
The Rest of the Ride is to take the road out to Port San Luis, about 1.5 miles further on from Avila Beach, to end at the Hanford Pier. This is a scenic ride along the shore of Avila Bay past the boats at anchor. There are wide parking lanes either side of the road which leave about 3’ for bikes when cars are parking, so you have room to get off the two lane road. There are overlooks and facilities along the drive and more at the far end. Did we mention the restaurants – Fat Cats Cafe and Olde Port Inn. Nice ride.
THE REST OF THE TRAIL – IN SAN LUIS OBISPO, GE: N35.25484 W120.66997
You really don’t need to do this portion of the BJT. If you take the family here, you will probably hear about it. There are a number of scruffy characters slouching about and word is that there are bum camps down in the creek bed. As the creek is lushly vegetated here, it’s probably true.
Where the creek crosses Prado St. by the intersection of Prado and S. Higuera St. in San Luis Obispo, you will find the north end of the “city” end of the Bob Jones Trail. The trail sign is a few hundred feet inside.
Sewers and trails go together. There is either a sewer line below the trail or the trail goes past the sewer plant. In this case, both. However, it is a very informative ride. In fact, the most informative and closest view TB has had of a sewer plant. He took the change to educate himself.
The SLO Wastewater Treatment Facility has a number of signs along the fence explaining what is happening in each portion of the facility. You learn new terms such as “chlorine channel” and “Supernatant Lagoon”. What you need to know about the lagoon is that it smells. The rest of the plant is not at all bad, but the lagoon greets you at the top of the trail.
You soon leave it behind and soon the plant is astern as you are head down along the freeway to end a mile down at another facility. This appears to be closed and may have been the former sewer plant for a much smaller town. Bottom line – do the beach ride.
Riding in the shade of the oaks.
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