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The scenic Huntington Beach Bicycle Trail runs along the Pacific Ocean waterfront of the most populous beach city in Orange County. Paved over its entire length and remarkably wide at some points, the trail is popular with a diverse range of trail users, including families with small children, inline skaters, joggers and those simply using the path to access the city's pristine beaches.
The path's northern end courses through Bolsa Chica State Beach, a popular spot for surfing, sunbathing and RV camping, while the southern end passes through Huntington State Beach, arguably the best place to surf in California. Between the two, Huntington Beach City Beach features a municipal pier with direct access from the trail.
At the trail's southern terminus, turn north on the Santa Ana River Trail to travel uninterrupted for dozens of miles into inland Orange County and beyond.
Parking is available at any of the large lots for Huntington Beach City Beach, Bolsa Chica State Beach or Huntington State Beach. Note that all three locations charge parking fees.
THE O.C. BEACH RIDE
I surveyed this trail back in October 2009, but never worked it up. The trails in Irvine were of more interest that season. Only four of 45 miles of Class I had been surveyed for Traillink.
What you have here is a beach strand ride. There are a number of these in Orange and LA Counties. There is a good one in Long Beach and there are two further north – one on either side of the Marina Del Rey entrance. Have not done those, so no opinion.
TrailLink has combined the beach ride with a park ride and some Class II bike lanes and some Class III to make a connector route between the San Gabriel and Santa Ana River Trails. It works. Only problem is that there is no off street connection between the two trails upstream. No loop ride.
The roadies are usually found out on the PCH, but if you want something less frenetic, try this route. The names vary. Below Sunset Beach it is the Bolsa Chica State Beach Multiple Use Path. They even have a sign. However do not expect a signed route. Bring good street maps.
What you get here is about eight miles of state and city beaches, back to back. The strand consists of a two lane blacktop road/trail with parking lots and the Pacific Coast Highway on one side and the sand of the beach on the other. The pavement is not in good shape. I give it a D to C. Lots of cracks. Perhaps not the best for in line skates. However, it's at the beach and it's mostly flat and there is the ocean over there.
There is a lot of use. Some roadies, lots of cruiser bikies, lots of dog walkers, some dog joggers, surfers, etc.
The strand ride starts up where Warner Ave. runs into the Pacific Coast Highway at the bottom of Sunset Beach. North of there the trail runs through a strip park with lots of free parking in lots and assorted good restrooms with water. This stops up at Anderson St. in Surfside.
From there across Anaheim Bay you are on the PCH. When you reach the far side at Seal Beach Blvd, the route takes you down to Ocean Ave.
I would be more inclined to stay on PCH where there is a large bike/walk on the north side. Turn onto Marina Ave. and take it to Marina Community Park at Marina Drive and Caravel Way in Seal Beach. Why here instead of the beach park on the TL map? $$$. Parking here is free and you are a block from the trail. Your call.
From Warner Ave. down to the Santa Ana River, you have a beach ride. The excitement is around the pier at Huntington Beach. There is also better rates on parking in Huntington Beach.
The strand facilities are extensive. This is one of the few trails where you never have to hunt for a restroom, water or parking. There are multiple cabin restrooms about every thousand feet with water. There are beach showers. There are vendors of food – in season.
There are miles of parking lots. However, be advised that the State wants $15/day to use said parking lots. As TrailBear put it, “I’ll nae pay it.” And he didn’t.
TB is practiced at finding free parking – which is rather a sport at the beach. The locals all have their methods and places. In winter at least there are miles and miles of mostly empty lots.
You would think they could offer a winter rate to at least get some money coming in. A parking lot is like a plane. If you don’t rent that stall or seat today, that money is gone forever. But, no!
@@@ RIDING THE TRAIL WINDS…
Some Local Knowledge: If you can start in the south and ride north in the morning, you can have the sea breeze at your back in the afternoon on returning. Then the trail wind is a tail wind. Or you can do it the other way and have it in your teeth for eight miles and more. Or you can have a day with little or no breeze. If you have a long ride, plan on a howler.
The breeze is generally on the make around 11 PM and grows stronger. It also blows right up the rivers. In the late afternoon you can be bucking 10-15 knots right on the nose as you head back to the beach. Ask TrailBear about all the fun he had on North Coyote Creek Trail, 12 miles inland. Whole trees in motion is Not Good.
@@@ PARKING AT THE SOUTH END…
The parking options are limited at the south end of the ride, where the trail joins the Santa Ana River Trail (SART to locals). We use the West Newport Park in Newport Beach. It runs along the PCH for 0.7 miles and there are multiple parking lots. We try for the one at Orange Street and Seashore Dr.: Good restroom and parking is either reasonable or free, depending on the day.
TrailBear on his Rover Trike
Wind in his teeth, heading north.
Damn! I was doing 14 knots heading south. Now I'm doing 8 knots north.
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