San Luis Rey River Trail


19 Reviews

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San Luis Rey River Trail Facts

States: California
Counties: San Diego
Length: 9 miles
Trail end points: N. Sante Fe Ave. and SR 76 and Neptune Way and N. Cleveland St.
Trail surfaces: Asphalt
Trail category: Greenway/Non-RT
ID: 6032527

San Luis Rey River Trail Description

The San Luis Rey River Trail runs for 9 miles along the course of the San Luis Rey River in Oceanside. The trail, which is smooth and mostly flat, is a local favorite among cyclists, walkers and inline skaters.

The west end of the trail begins two blocks from the beach and heads inland along the river. The route is dotted with trees and native plantings, so you may see snowy egrets, blue herons, and other types of birds. Kids will especially like the playgrounds and athletic fields of Mance Buchanan Park on the trail's east side.

Parking and Trail Access

The west of the the trail, at Neptune Way, is only a few blocks from the Oceanside Transit Center (235 S Tremont St.), a bus terminal and hub for both regional commuter trains and Amtrak.

On the east end of the trail, parking and restrooms are available in Mance Buchanan Park (425 College Blvd.).

San Luis Rey River Trail Reviews

Great trail

This is a very fun trail to ride up and down on! Just remember to slow down for the walkers!

Great 20-mile biking trail from down to Oceanside beach and back, safe, clean, and well marked easy route and a variety of views.

Great 20-mile biking trail from down to Oceanside beach and back, safe, clean, and well marked easy route and a variety of views.

Please share the road with walkers

I usually ride my bike here but today I decided to walk. An older, Caucasian male who was on a bike rudely yelled that this is for bikes only. Idts. I see walkers all the time. I don’t see why we can’t share the trail.

Super Saturday Ride

Great ride with nice canyon views. Well kept with good underpasses at busy intersections. We will definitely do it again soon.


Nice bike path

This was my 3rd time doing this path. I always park at the easternmost entrance to the trail. There is a gravel parking lot there and in a good area to leave you car. I really like this path because it does not follow any highways or cross any busy intersections. You feel totally safe riding on this path. No homeless encampments etc. to deal with just nice nature. When riding from east to west I have always encountered a strong headwind. You ride along what used to be the San Luis River, long such dried up but there are many areas of interesting sites. Going from east to west you end up in Oceanside and only a few blocks from the ocean walkway. All in all this is one of my favorite bike paths. Well maintained, safe, flat, and just the right mileage for me. One note: Aprox 1 mile from the easternmost path entrance you do travel through a residential neighborhood. It is NOT well marked which way to go. As soon as you enter the neighborhood turn RIGHT on the street and go to the end of that block where you turn left for about a block. Look for a sign that points to the re-entrance to the bike path on your right.

This was a really nice ride I went from the coast up and back. It's mostly flat and not too busy. I did this one on a single speed cruiser. Had a lot of fun.

This was a really nice ride I went from the coast up and back. It's mostly flat and not too busy. I did this one on a single speed cruiser. Had a lot of fun.

It's OK

An OK ride. Not especially exciting, but it is easy and flat. The best part is extending the ride to The Strand in order to ride alongside the beach. Consider heading to the pier and Ruby's Diner.

Take the trail from the ocean to Guajome Regional Park

Heading east from the ocean, cross under College Blvd, continue on the more recent trail addition, arriving at Andrew Jackson St.
Turn left on this residential road, follow as it becomes Tyler St. Watch for the trail sign on the left.
Turn left, continue eastward on the trail, end at Santa Fe Ave. parking area at San Luis Rey Mission Expressway (Highway 76).
Turn left, staying on the dirt path on the north side of the highway, going east, then turn right to take an underpass to enter Guajome Regional Park.
There are dirt paths for walking, running, bicycling there.

What a fun ride!

We rode this trail from Mance Buchanon Park all the way to the ocean. Parking was great, bathrooms at the park were ok but lacking toilet paper and paper towels in the women's restroom, and access to the trail was easy. The trail itself is nice, spacious, and the paving is great for biking. We loved that all of the street crossings were done with underpasses, and only had to stray from the trail at the very end and cross one street to get to the beach. Our total ride, including getting to the beach, was about 15 miles round trip, and it was a really nice ride the whole way through. I would highly recommend this trail to anyone

Terrible for inline skating...

Beautiful views, terrible surface. This trail is rough as heck now for inline skates. The asphalt is over 14 years old and it shows. It's like riding over gravel with your wheels. I got about 1000 feet before I turned around with nearly numb feet and quit--and I have skates with 84 mm wheels.

Inline skates should be removed from the list. I'm going to the city council to request repaving or at least re-tarring the path. Wish me luck.

love this trail

living close to the San Louis Rey trail it is a go to ride on many weekends one of my favorite things about it is that there are under passes along the streets it connects with so that there is no need to stop and deal with motor vehicle traffic

Wheelchair walk

I push my wife in her wheelchair. This was a very pleasant walk. Semi-scenic with some cool breezes, though very little shade. Starting from the east end, we went 4.5 miles, nearly to the drive-in (there was a bit of a steep downslope there that I didn't feel like coming back up), and then back. We saw a few dozen bikers and a couple joggers.

On the south side is mostly trees, cactus and such (though about 1/2 mile of it burnt down some time in the last few years). On the north side are mostly houses (back yard fences right against the trail for about a mile), the drive-in movies, a park, and 3 schools. One of the houses had a basket of bottled water hanging off the back fence, very awesome of them, though we didn't need any. About 1/4 mile goes through a neighborhood along the sidewalk (least exciting part of the trail, since I have plenty of sidewalks in my own neighborhood).

For slopes, there was 1 steep but short one just before the neighborhood part of the path, and 2 places where the path dips under 2 streets. The slopes took some strength, but since they were short they were doable.

There are so few long, paved, scenic trails near us (Murrieta) that I was happy to find this one through TrailLink. Certainly not perfect, but I will do it again. Next time I will park at the 2nd street we passed under and see if we can make it to the beach.

For another long scenic wheelchair/bike path, try Lake Perris (not listed on TrailLink). It has a few similar slopes, minimal shade and a $10 entrance fee, but the trail goes nearly all the way around the lake and we enjoyed it.

Good Trail, Friendly Cyclists

Had a great time going from the harbor to Douglas Rd. At 3/4 of the way there, the chain fell off my bike (beach bike) and lots of cyclists asked if I was OK and one stopped to help me get the chain back on. Thank you to the nice gentleman who held up my back wheel and advised me to push the pedal forward, thereby getting the chain back on so I could resume my ride. Yes, do sound your bell when you are going down under the freeway because, inevitably, somebody's coming the other way and it's hard to see them.

from the east

Being a cyclist from Florida I was pretty pleased with the trail mostly flat except the dips under bridges and beautiful views friendly people it's a great trail probably my new regular

Great family ride....

The four of us (ages 49, 42-me, 13, 11)took this 14.2 mile RT ride on 12/28/12. It was totally flat (except for when it dips down & up under cross roads) and is (what I would consider) a super easy ride. Yes, there were some complaints heading out from our 11 y/o, and even more heading back by the 49 y/o, but by the end everyone was glad we went out. There were headwinds going west (of course) but nearly dead still heading back to our car parked at Mance Buchanon Park. I am very grateful for this nice, flat, clean trail. We are on Christmas Break from school and were getting a little antsy staying at home. I hope to find more like this. :)

TRAILBEAR GOES TO THE SEA: The San Luis Rey River Trail

1.15.2011, Oceanside, CA

A warm, sunny spring day in SoCal and we head for Oceanside and the San Luis Rey Trail.
January 15? Spring? Ya betcha!

Spring in SoCal starts in January. Easy to tell. The hills are green with new grass and TrailBear starts sneezing. By February the trees will start to green up and blossoms will follow. TB will sneeze louder.


The TrailBear is down here (1) to ride a new trail, (2) to do a facilities survey and (3) to update the TrailLink trail map. A new two mile section of trail has been added upstream of the Mance Buchanan Park on College Blvd. This continues on around and thru a housing tract to end at Mission and N. Santa Fe, just down the road from the Guajome County Park. The trail is now nine miles long.

The facilities survey proved easy. Outside of Buchanan Park, you can find nine other points offering access or access with parking plus bench, trash and information kiosks. The sole restrooms and water points are at the park.


The San Luis Rey River Trail is a levee ride for the most part. Starting down in Oceanside in an area of apartments adjacent to the RR tracks, at a trail end with very limited parking and no support facilities, the SLRRT ascends the river on a large levee to a point beyond College Blvd.
Here begins a new extension which runs up the levee, then dives into a neighborhood thru a city owned access corridor. It uses a residential street to get you to the far side of the ‘hood when it enters another access corridor and down the hill.

Now it winds around the base of a hill for a mile to end at a gravel access parking lot at N. Santa Fe and Expressway 76. Just beyond is Guajome Regional Park which can serve as a full service trailhead for the upper end of the trail.

The trail has two lanes, each about four feet wide. The pavement is excellent blacktop. The scenery is interesting. This is not an LA river with concrete sides and bottom. The bottoms of the San Luis Rey River are quite thick and overgrown with trees and brush. The facilities at the park are new and attractive.

The views along the trail are large and spacious. Today you could see all the way to the mountains over in Riverside County, capped with snow. Down in the river bottom it was clear that there had been some recent high water. A week of 24/7 rain can do that.

First question: Where to access the trail and start the ride.

As the only on-trail water and restrooms are at the new Mance Buchanan Park upriver about six miles on College Blvd., this was an easy choice. We tried the marina on the way in, but it was a zoo by 0900, so we headed for Buchanan Park.

In picking a trailhead, consider the sea breeze. Just ask TrailBear, who spent one afternoon riding down the Coyote Creek Trail into 15-20 knots of headwind. It does slow you down. If there is a sea breeze, it is normally on the make by 11 and grows stronger in the afternoon, blowing up the river. Riding down to the sea in the quiet morning and back up with breeze at the back has attractions.


Who is this, pedaling a lawn chair though the scenery? TrailBear, that’s who.

Looking at his growing collection of bike saddles, TB decided it was time for a paradigm shift. He wanted to ride more, but around 20 miles his butt was protesting sitting on a 2x4. Last fall he began the Due Diligence on a proof of concept trike. On Black Friday he pulled the trigger on a Terratrike Rover X5 out of the Utah Trikes custom shop with 27 gears.

He discovered riding a trike is an exercise in comfort. No more SeatSquirm. No more chamois cream. No more chamois. No more wishing the ride were over. At the end of a twenty mile ride, he is ready for more. His butt loves the trike. Today was the Rover’s first survey trip and there was a lot of sorting out of where the equipment should go. On the mountain bike all is at hand on the handlebars or tube. On the trike it is carried behind the seat. Some adjustments will be made.


This is an attractive new river front or levee front park. Close by the entrance is a trailhead parking area with bike racks, picnic tables, and information kiosk and trail access. There is a restroom across the road. There is ample additional parking and restrooms further into the park. The trailhead parking may be busy on a good weekend. We parked further in.

There was quite a bit of traffic on the trail this day. “Tour de Y” might have accounted for part of it. Lots of roadies in singles, doubles or pace lines. Families with kids riding, runners, walkers, dog walkers, etc. It’s a nice trail and was getting used.

Get the Terratrike Rover X5 trike out of the van, gear up and head down river on the trail to…

@@@ DOUGLAS DR. ACCESS PARKING, GE: N33.23969 W117.32285

Here is a little parking lot on the down river side of the underpass. The next access was Cypress Rd., reached by a bike bridge. That one got a pass. Head down and around a bend to…

@@@ FOUSSAT RD. ACCESS PARKING, GE: N33.22144 W117.34515

Foussat is at the upper end of the Oceanside airport. Over yonder on a piece of waste ground, the kids have built a pump track for their BMX bikes. Another scenic attraction is the old outdoor movie establishment. Does it have three or four screens? Outdoor movies are from Days Gone By. It was rumored that “making out” would occasionally happen. During intermission you can head down to the…

@@@ BENET RD. ACCESS PARKING, GE: N33.21897 W117.35777

This one is below the airport and close to the Iron Sight Shooting Range. Now the trail tucks under the high bank and heads for the…

@@@ FREEWAY UNDERPASS, GE: N33.20544 W117.38514

Sound your horn. Never know what you will find here. TB came around a blind corner and found a couple of joggers in his lane, coming his way. Duh! Do you drive that way? Probably: Californians. The other lane as empty, so swerve to avoid idiots. Up ahead you have a choice of directions …

@@@ TRAIL JUNCTION BY THE RAILROAD, GE: N33.20311 W117.38762

Here is a spur trail that ducks under the RR and comes up (very steeply) at N. Pacific Ave. From there you hop on the bike lane, zip across the bridge and you are at the marina, which would be an attractive place to stage the ride on days with less crowds. Going on straight at the junction brings you to the…

@@@ TRAIL END IN OCEANSIDE, GE: N33.20001 W117.38587

This is a trail end in a neighborhood on the rail line, not a trail head or access parking. A bike route (not lane) continues on from here. There are no facilities and on-street parking for only 3-4 cars, so don’t state your ride from this end. You can only cross the RR tracks at selected streets, so if you wanted the beach, should have turned back at the junction.

Now that you are down in Oceanside, you can wander about and Take In the Sights. Further down the coast are small segments of the old RR right of way made into pocket parks. There are hopes and dreams of putting together a coastal trail on the right of way, but it will be decades in the making.

The trip back up the river is easy. This is a reasonably flat trail. It must be if TrailBear was doing 10-13 mph on the uphill.


On the way back a group of local trikies came up astern. TB pulled into a handy parking apron ahead to let them go by, but they pulled in. Time for show and tell and see what the other guy has on board.

This was a nice collection of high end low slung sports trikes: Greenspeed, ICE Trice, Velotechnik Scorpion, Terratrike Zoomer – and the Rover, which is the pickup truck amid the Porches. However, it will hold upward of 300#, which none of the others can do. Now bears can ride trikes, and TB is enjoying his.

Ride on!

Scoping out trike bling. Accessories, that’s the thing.


The new access, with 18 parking & 1 HC space, off Foussat Rd. N33.22143 W117.34539 33’, east of Oceanside Airport is where I started the afternoon of 10 February 07 in 72 degree overcast conditions, on my Tadpole Tri-Cruise . A very nice well utilized asphalt surfaced trail, however the concrete surfaced underpasses are rough with steep grades. Street level crossings are available. The elevation of the trail on the flood control dike provides panoramic views.
West of the Airport the river valley narrows and the trail has ups and downs and turns as it passes under I-5, turning south along the METRO tracks into a rejuvenated condo/apartment area where it ends at Neptune Way N33.20025 W117.38610 43’ There is parking room for 3-4 cars on the North side of the street. For vehicle access, exit I-5 on Coast Highway turn west on Neptune Way.
At the east end, College Blvd is a divided Street so you must be South bound to access the College Blvd Trail Head N33.24971 w117.29755 79’, A new Park is being constructed just south of the TH.
Facilities along the trail described in previous reviews are still current, additional Fast food facilities are just a short distance North on Douglas Dr. The West side of the Douglas at the South end of the bridge provides parking for 4-5 vehicles and access to the trail N33.23968 W117.32238 62’
The Estuary area still provides campgrounds for the Homeless. By Noel Keller

Great skate

"This is a gorgeous trail. It borders the southern bank of the San Luis Rey River with all its beautiful foliage. It is unique in that at each crossroad the trail dips under the road (these sections have slight inclines and declines and are concrete instead of asphalt) so you are never in traffic.

The trail is relatively flat, wide and smooth; though not always clean depending on the weather, which is beautiful San Diego. Traffic is moderate to light even on busy days.

On the west entry near Oceanside Harbor the trail has now been completed under I-5 which used to be dirt. You can pick up the trail off of North Pacific Street (a few blocks north of Oceanside Pier). There is a parking lot directly across the street from the North Coast Village condo complex (between Oceanside Pier & Harbor on Pacific Street). You have to cross the railroad tracks to find trail at that point. (Careful, there is a fine for being within 20 feet of the tracks.) You can also pick up entrance on east side of I-5, but it is difficult due to more traffic.

Aside: There are restaurants and other facilities at Oceanside Pier, downtown and at the Harbor on this end. Also, if you like to rex or jump and spin there is the Amphitheater at the foot of the pier. It is quite roomy, though only rough concrete smooth, but the crack between the pad sections are not bad and there are only a few holes to watch for.

The trail it self is about eight miles long. In recreational skates at a steady pace it takes about 30 to 40 minutes to skate the length. Traveling from west to east is usually the easiest as the wind is at your back, and it can blow pretty strong.

The access on the east entrance at College Boulevard (right by the old Toll Bridge and Fire Station) is probably the best as there is a small, 20-car parking lot right at the entrance. Approximately one block north of North River Road there is a good Mexican Restaurant and a 7/11 and a couple blocks to the south of the trail on College Boulevard there is the huge Towne Center Mall area. There are also other remote entries and parking lots along the crossroads of the trail.

Overall this trail is rated high for skating -- it has charm and beauty. Skate east to west in the evening and you can catch a gorgeous sunset one way and a full moon coming back.

Note: Caution. Skate with a buddy as those reeds and brush in the river bed are known encampments for homeless people and a site of some criminal activity. It doesn’t detract from the trail but be aware. "

One of our favorites

"The San Luis Rey River Trail is very clean and smooth. The trail runs in an east/west direction from College Boulevard in the east to I-5 in the west.

There is parking at the eastern end at a park and ride, and there is a fire station next to it where they are very friendly and will let you use their bathroom if needed. There are no other facilities along the route."

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