Coastal Rail Trail


7 Reviews

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Coastal Rail Trail Facts

States: California
Counties: San Diego
Length: 4.7 miles
Trail end points: 248 Tyson St. (Oceanside) and Highway 101 & Via De La Valle (Solana Beach)
Trail surfaces: Asphalt, Concrete
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6358503

Coastal Rail Trail Description


Open in distinct sections while still under development, The Coastal Rail Trail traverses beachside communities in Oceanside, Carlsbad, Solana Beach and Encinitas. Slated to eventually run 44 miles between Oceanside and San Diego alongside the Coaster commuter rail, the rail-trail brings a fun and practical active transportation route to this stretch of the Southern California Coast.

About the Route 

As of 2024, five segments of the Coastal Rail Trail are open. Two are in Oceanside, one in Carlsbad, one between Encinitas and Cardiff-by-the-Sea, and one in Solana Beach. Refer to the TrailLink Map for more information on the trail’s complete segments.  

The Coastal Rail Trail’s northern endpoint is at 248 Tyson St. in Oceanside, adjacent to the Oceanside Transit Center. Two blocks west lies Tyson Street Park, which offers an ocean beach and a large grassy area perfect for picnicking. In Oceanside, two trail segments travel through the city's lively downtown. From the Oceanside Transportation Center, the paved trail runs on the west side of the train track to Oceanside Blvd. A second paved segment south of Loma Alta Creek runs from Morse Street to Vista Way, with a crossing of the active train tracks required at Cassidy Street (adjacent to Lions Club Park).

In Carlsbad, a short segment runs between Oak Avenue and Tamarack Avenue on the east side of the rail corridor.

Between Encinitas and Cardiff-by-the-Sea, the shared-use trail runs from Santa Fe Drive in Encinitas south to Chesterfield Drive in Cardiff. Here, the trail travels uninterrupted on a natural bank lined with shrubbery that lies between San Elijo Ave and the rail corridor.  

In Solana Beach, the Coastal Rail Trail runs between Highway 101 and the Coaster line from Ocean Street in the north to Via de la Valle in the south. This segment of trail passes through a busier corridor, along a landscaped area with public art. Here, the trail provides direct access to the Solana Beach Transit Center as well as dozens of restaurants and shops in the city's downtown. The itself can be accessed from Plaza Street near the center of this trail segment.

Once complete, this trail will run all the way south to San Diego. As of 2024, the Coastal Rail Trail’s southern endpoint is at Highway 101 & Via De La Valle, in Solana Beach. 


From the northern endpoint in Oceanside, trail users can go north on-road along Cleveland St. for about 0.7 miles to find to the San Luis Rey River Trail.  

Trail History 

The Coastal Rail Trail runs next to the Surf Line, an active railway that first opened in 1882, constructed by the California Southern Railroad Company, bringing passenger and freight service between Los Angeles and San Diego. In  1938, the Atchision, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway (“The Santa Fe”) began operating the San Diegan passenger service between LA and San Diego. Amtrak, when created in 1971, took over the service, extending service north to Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo in 1988 and 1995, respectively. Santa Fe service ran until 2000 when Amtrak rebranded it as the Pacific Surfliner. The Pacific Surfliner is consistently one of Amtrak’s busiest routes by passenger volume. In 1995, a commuter rail service, the Coaster, began between Oceanside and San Diego. Plans for a rail-trail along the line began in the late 1980s. The first segment opened in Solana Beach in the early 2000s.

Parking and Trail Access

Parking and Trail Access 

The Coastal Rail Trail runs in segments between 248 Tyson St (Oceanside) and Highway 101 & Via De La Valle (Solana Beach)

The region’s commuter rails and Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner line provide convenient transit access to the trail. If taking your bike aboard a train, please observe the transit agency’s rules. Several train stops are close to the trail:

  • Oceanside Transit Center (MetroLink, Coaster, Sprinter, Amtrak)
  • Coast Highway (Sprinter)
  • Carlsbad Village (Coaster)
  • Encinitas (Coaster) 
  • Solana Beach (Coaster, Amtrak)  

Parking is also available: 

  • 1205 S Coast Hwy 101 (Encinitas)
  • 2182 San Elijo Ave (Cardiff) 

These are approximate addresses. See TrailLink Map for all parking options and detailed directions.

Coastal Rail Trail Reviews

Will be great someday

We've ridden the two segments in Oceanside. The segments are nice and plenty wide enough. Any trail that gets you away from traffic is a much more enjoyable experience than the narrow city streets here. The main issue is the segments are so short and disjointed. Once the entire section through Oceanside is completed, it will be a great boon to residents and tourism. Once the trail from Oceanside to San Diego is completed it will be a biker's mecca. Given how dense the coastal cities are here I can't see this ever happening in my lifetime unless the railroad is willing to create an easement along the tracks.

The Higher Rail Trail

A fine Trail for the relaxed cyclist that enjoys the both Nature & Man made Environment. It provides two street and three bridge track crossings. Many bike shops on Coast side of 101. Noel Keller 23 Oct 15.

good for pedestrians, conditionally useful for some bicycle trips

I have used this trail on several occasions, as a bicyclist and as a pedestrian.

When bicycling northbound, I always choose the far more satisfactory Class II bike lane on the coast highway. When bicycling southbound I use the bike lane and sharrows on the coast highway unless I want to go to the train station or the neighborhood north of it. For these trips I'll put up with the meander and slow speed of the path for the convenience of direct access to points east of the coast highway, without having to deal with turning left at the Lomas Santa Fe intersection and then left again onto Cedros.

When I am walking I do enjoy this trail, however.




Solana Beach "sidewalk"

Basically you're running on a busy sidewalk alongside a super busy street with tons of traffic. It's not a "trail" at all.

Best near me.

Very good, well surfaced path, except that a few of the concrete sections are bone jarring rough. Pedestrians can get pretty thick on the weekend. Avoid hazards by clearing it by 7:30

Whats the Point

I like to see money earmarked for Bike-ways spent on projects that make sense. Either they are scenic, or the go from somewhere to somewhere else. This is none of the above. Three blocks west is the very heavily traveled Old Hwy 101. Hoards of bikers on that are unaware of this tiny segment, and those that do know, have no reason to go out of their way to get here.

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