Bicycling in Santa Cruz

Things to Do — By mfitzsimmons on February 29, 2012 at 10:41 am

Spring is the perfect time to grab a two-wheeler and go for a leisurely ride in beautiful, coastal Santa Cruz. Whether you are a pleasure cruiser or an adrenaline junkie, this city is full of trails and biker-friendly roads on which to go for a spin.

There are plenty of businesses here that cater to the biking community and provide rental bikes if you aren’t able to bring your own. Shops like Bicycle Shop Santa Cruz, Electric Sierra Cycles, and the Family Cycling Center all cater to those looking to rent a cycle.

While you can bike down Pacific Ave. and many other Santa Cruz streets, it’s best to head towards the water for a memorable and scenic ride. West Cliff Drive is one of the most popular coastal trails in Northern California. This paved route winds over cliffs that border the typically placid Pacific. It sees foot and tire traffic all year long.

a beach cruiser bike parked on west cliff

A surfer's cruiser bike awaits him on West Cliff Drive.

Head towards 41st Ave. and you’ll run into West Cliff’s east side doppleganger, the East Cliff Drive trail. Both of these paved paths run past surf spots that are usually teeming with local surfers. You can park your bike just about anywhere on either trail and take some steep steps down to the sandy beaches below.

Once you’ve done the beach bike trail thing, turn your attention to the rolling hills of the Santa Cruz Mountains. There are literally hundreds of miles of biking trails winding through the redwood forests here.

A female mountain biker in Santa Cruz.

Take a ride on the wild side in Santa Cruz.

Wilder Ranch State Park is a favorite cycling spot thanks to its over 34 miles of biking, hiking, and equestrian trails. The park spreads out over 4,000 acres, giving visitors a sense of every type of terrain all in one location. The Forest of Nisene Marks, Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, and Big Basin State Park all have trails for bikers of every level and offer an immersive forest experience.

As always when bicycling, obey all traffic laws, always wear a helmet, and be sure your bike has a light if you are riding at night. Because Santa Cruz has so many bicyclists, the city’s law enforcement agencies are particularly keen on keeping bikers safe and will cite any cyclist not obeying the law.

If you are going to be in the Santa Cruz area April 14-16 and are an avid (or amateur) mountain biker, check out the 3rd annual Santa Cruz Mountain Bike Festival taking place in Aptos Village. They’ll be races, demonstrations, clinics, merchandise, and food at this premier mountain biking event.

Tags: Big Basin State Park, East Cliff Drive, Forest of Nisene Marks, Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, West Cliff Drive