Cycling has seen an amazing rejuvenation in the last few years as the growing need for clean travel and rigorous exercise have come to a head and joined hands with the hip, vintage-loving practices of current youth culture. Visit your local San Diego bike shop and you’re sure to find a number of products that run the gamut between vintage and space-aged.
Unfortunately, the majority of motorists aren’t so welcoming of bikers and are often unaware of cycling laws. For those bikers in search of a pleasant, fun ride without honkers and drivers who don’t understand the right of way, here are some of the best bike paths in the country.
1. Springwater Corridor, Portland to Boring, Oregon
Portland has quickly become the cycling capital of the country thanks to such a dominant youth culture and great trails like this one. Springwater Corridor is a multi-use trail that is mostly paved or hard surface, though a separate soft surface path accommodates equestrian use. The trail crisscrosses Johnson Creek before making its way along Willamette River and over the famous Steel Bridge to the town of Boring.
The finished trail will be over 21 miles long and may eventually link to the Pacific Crest Trail. In the meantime, enjoy the great atmosphere, wildlife, and scenery. The trail connects several parks and open spaces, including Powell Butte Nature Park, Leach Botanical Garden, and Beggars-Tick Wildlife Refuge.
2. Bayshore Bikeway, San Diego, CA
Offering spectacular views of the bay and the skyline, Bayshore Bikeway is a 24-mile trail that loops around the San Diego Bay. About 13 miles of the trail are for bikes and walkers only, while the rest comprises on-street lanes and routes with plans for expansion underway.
The bikeway connects Coronado, Chula Vista, National City, and a handful of other communities and wildlife preserves. Take in that ocean breeze, enjoy the sun, and look up every now and then to spot birds crossing the Pacific Flyway, an avian highway that takes birds from Patagonia to Alaska. You’ll definitely want to take advantage of a bike rental in San Diego to experience the Bayshore Bikeway.
3. Longleaf Trace, Hattiesburg, Mississippi
Constructed in 2000, Longleaf Trace is the longest rail trail in the south-central states, measuring about 41 miles in length. The paved path offers smooth rides for all types of bikes with very little incline. The route features nine main stations and winds through rural farmland, lush wetlands, and piney woods. If you want to stop and rest or just take in the view, the Trace provides rest stops about every two miles.
The Trace is great for nature lovers. Wildlife, including wild hare, raccoons, birds, squirrels, and deer are commonly seen along the trail, while the diverse flora includes dogwood, magnolia, honeysuckle, and the Longleaf Pine that gives the trail its name.
4. Mesabi Trail, Ely, Minnesota
Measuring at about 132 miles, the Mesabi Trail in northern Minnesota is one of the longest paved trails in the country. The ten-foot wide asphalt road gives you plenty of room to maneuver, whether you’re walking, skating, or cycling. No need for a bike trade-in; this trail accommodates all forms of cycling, from road to mountain.
Along the way, you’ll meet a variety of campgrounds and communities, from the Pike River Rock Cut to the Prairie River Bridge to O’Brien Reservoir.