The Coast News Group
The San Luis Rey Bike Trail has several entry points and parking along its 10.7 miles. Courtesy photo
Columns Hit the Road

Hit the Road: A bike trail discovery close to home

Sometimes it takes out-of-town visitors to show you what’s in your backyard.

In this case, I’m talking about the San Luis Rey Bike Trail in Oceanside — a clean, paved pathway with a Class I designation, which I take to mean “really easy” because I was able to traverse it with minimum skill.

The trail needed to be easy because it’s been – um – a lot of years (let’s just say it was sometime in the last millennium) since I climbed on a bike and rode any appreciable distance. I’ve been thinking about doing such for a while, but it took my sister, Jenny, and her husband, Dan, from Tempe, Arizona, to get me and my husband out there.

Together and separately, Dan and Jenny have put thousands of miles on both their tandem and single bikes, traversing the country east to west and north to south. They spent their most recent trip cycling throughout the Southeast dodging hurricanes, 18-wheelers, mosquitoes, armadillos and various roadkill. There were many favorable moments, too, but my sister regretted the absence of one experience.

“I really wanted to see an alligator but didn’t,” she told me.

Alligators are one hazard you WON’T have to worry about on the San Luis Rey Bike Trail, which has several entry points and parking along its 10.7 miles (one way). The trail extends from the west end of Neptune Way, a few blocks north of the Oceanside Pier, to the east end of North Santa Fe Avenue where we parked (Advice: Get there early. Spaces are limited, and it’s a popular spot).

The trail is paved and, to my surprise, has a traffic stripe for the entire distance. We saw every level of cyclist enjoying the ride, from a kid on training wheels to serious cyclists pumping at high speeds – which is why you’ve got to stay alert and on your side of the road. Just because it’s an easy trail doesn’t mean you can let your attention wander — which might be a challenge as there are plenty of distractions.

I’m not adept at spotting wildlife as I ride, but it’s there. According to the Canyoneers, a passionate hiking group out of the San Diego Natural History Museum, common birds along the way include snowy egrets, blue herons, grebes, and various ducks. If you can’t ride-and-spot, there are several places along the way to rest and take in the expansive landscape.

User reviews say the ideal places to take a breather are at Mance Buchanan Park and Alex Road Skate Park. (Maps are available on the City of Oceanside website.)

The trail also is listed as a route for walkers, but on high-traffic days (holidays and weekends), it won’t be a peaceful hike. Cyclists way outnumber walkers, who must hug the edge of the payment and remain hyper-alert.

We clocked about 10 miles, then returned to the parking lot at the North Santa Fe end.

Though we’ve lived in San Diego County for several decades, I’m embarrassed to say that this was our first ride on the San Luis Rey Bike Trail. But that’s the beauty of our county; there is always something new to see and experience — perhaps even enough to get us through this pandemic.

If you have a favorite destination in San Diego County that you want to share, email [email protected].