Whether your little rider is a rookie on training wheels or an ace cyclist, we’ve found a few ‘wheel’ fun spots to get pedaling in San Diego. From straight and simple local park paths to pump tracks and dirt trails, our favorite bike trails for kids span from beginner to advanced. Scroll down to see where to get your crew rolling today.
Carlsbad Rail Trail
A wheel short ride. If you have a little one who is just learning how to ride a bike, then this .7-mile bike path in Carlsbad is your spot. Bonus: the path is fenced the entire way and away from cars. The trail is close to Carlsbad Village, so when you're done riding you can head to Cafe Topes for a cinnamon roll and breakfast burrito. Then, walk the village.
Getting There: The trail begins at the end of Oak Ave. near State St. You can find parking nearby.
Good To Know: The trail has pretty landscaping and runs parallel but separate from the railroad tracks!
Carmel Valley Rec Center
On the go! Head to the Carmel Valley Recreation Center to find a perfect spot for new bikers. The park has wide paths that are smooth for little learners. Further, look up the pool schedule and take a cool dip in the pool after your ride.
Getting There: 3777 Townsgate Dr., San Diego, CA 92130
Good To Know: The concrete surrounds a big grassy field so bring a lawn chair and sit down while keeping an eye on your little biker.
Hidden Canyon Community Park
Beginning riders can practice going round and round in a safe environment at this gem of a park. Even more, there are two playgrounds, one for little kids and one for bigger kids to climb and swing after bike practice. Further, half-pints can bring their scooter or skates too.
Getting There: 2685 Vancouver St., Carlsbad, CA 92010
Good To Know: You'll find easy parking and picnic tables.
Pacific Highland’s Pump Tracks
Up and down! Get on a roll at the Pacific Highland Pump Tracks made for bikes. It's free and open to the public. What's more, it's located in Pacific Highlands Park, so there's a playground and skate park nearby. Probably best for more experienced riders, as they need to navigate the rolling hills.
Getting There: 5977 Village Center Loop Rd., San Diego, CA 92130
Good To Know: There are skateboarders who use the tracks too, so be aware.
Scripps Ranch Rec Center
As easy as 1-2-3! With a flat, concrete, rectangle loop around two giant, grassy fields, this park is a good spot to take off the training wheels. The best part is, there's plenty of room to ride once your little one gets the basics down. When done you can head to the cool playground to cap off the day.
Getting There: 11454 Blue Cypress Dr., San Diego, CA 92131
Good To Know: The park gets busy on the weekends, so arriving earlier in the day is better.
4S Ranch Park
Circle time! If your little one is still on a wheel-less bike or just getting off the training wheels, then this park's for you. There's a giant circle that surrounds the playground. Just stand in the middle and watch. When done with the wheels, hit up the playground, it's shaded.
Getting There: 16118 4S Ranch Pkwy, San Diego, CA 92127
Good To Know: Bring a picnic, you'll find tables.
Fay Avenue Bike Trail
We kicked the tires of this 1.2-mile (one-way) bike trail where you'll encounter palm trees and pretty water views. You and your crew wind through a quiet La Jolla neighborhood, then plan to make a playground pit stop for more fun. Most of the trail is paved, however towards the end it becomes a dirt road. Even though the ride is short, the views and landscaping are worth it.
Getting There: Head to La Jolla High School and the path starts at Fay Ave. and Nautilus St. and ends at La Jolla Hermosa Ave.
Good To Know: You'll find shade and a water fountain at the playground.
Lake Murray Park
Park and ride. This 3-acre community park has a flat surrounding concrete walkway that is perfect for bikers on training wheels. First off, you can keep an eagle eye on their progress. After the ride, kids can play in the cool covered playground. Even more, for advanced family rides, Lake Murray has a 3.2-mile flat bike path for everyone to enjoy. Truly, you'll find many levels of bike riding here.
Getting There: 7001 Murray Park Dr., San Diego, CA 92119
Good To Know: Bring a snack or lunch to eat in the shade. Also, there are only Porta-potties near the playground.
If you have a little transportation expert in your brood, then this is the perfect path for you. Clocking in round-trip at about 2.8 miles, you start this bike trail where Via De La Valle meets the Coast Highway. The trail finishes at Ocean St. where you can turn around to get home. Safely separated from the main road, you'll find everything from trains and automobiles to healthy juices stops and pizza places in this locale. What's more, there's plenty of pretty artwork to inspire your ride.
Getting There: Take the Via De La Valle exit off the I-5 freeway and head west to where it intersects with PCH. You can park on the streets nearby.
Good To Know: Head west down Plaza St. and you'll find Fletcher Cove Park and beach access.
Mission Bay Park
No need to reinvent the wheel! Drive to Mission Bay Park for a family bike ride. This wide, flat trail meanders through Mission Bay. Begin from the parking lot off Clairmont Dr. and head South along the bike path. Also, there's plenty of room for everyone. If you can make the approximately 1.3 miles to the end, you'll find a great park little riders will love. Even more, if the distance is too far, then just drive South along Mission Bay Dr. and park closer.
Getting There: From the I-5 freeway exit Clairmont Dr. Turn towards Mission Bay and a parking lot is straight ahead.
Good To Know: There are restrooms along the bike path and near the parking lot.
Follow the mostly flat path around Coronado to take in the island's best sights. You zip under the Coronado Bridge, pedal around the golf course and hit the strand to take in iconic views like the Hotel Del Coronado and Coronado Beach. It’s worth noting that Coronado’s 6-miles of bike paths alternate between paths and residential streets. But the good news is that the streets are wide and the locals are used to sharing the road with cyclists cruising the streets. You can BYOB (bring your own bike) for your riding adventure or hire one from the bike rental shops around the island.
Getting There: A good starting point is Coronado Tidelands Park at 2000 Mullinex Dr., Coronado, CA 92118
Good To Know: Just a bit away from the Hotel Del Coronado on Orange Ave., you’ll find a huge mix of cafes, restaurants and an ice cream shop.
A beautiful shoreline, wide open paths and families enjoying the sunshine are just some of the things to entice you to the Bayside Walk. Start your journey at Crown Point Park then head along the specifically designed bike and pedestrian path for a flat, road free ride. You’ll be able to cruise past Fanuel Street Park (a local favorite), and the beaches of Sail Bay and Santa Clara Point. It’s good to note this is a one-way track, so once you hit West Mission Bay Dr., you'll need to turn around and venture back the three miles.
Getting There: Street access is available all along the Bayside Walk, but parking along the busy residential streets can be tricky at peak times. We suggest putting down pedals at Crown Point Park, Moorland Dr., San Diego, CA 92109, with its ample free parking in one of three lots.
Good To Know: You’ll be able to find bathrooms and water fountains at the Crown Point, Fanuel or Santa Clara Point Parks if the little ones need a potty break.
Santee Lakes is perfectly set for a biking visit. Stroll through five miles of tranquil paved paths around the seven lakes and surrounding parkland. The kids will love that most of the ride is flat, but be aware there are a few hilly spots to tackle. If you don’t want to bring your own bikes, Wheel Fun Rentals will have you covered with a selection of cruisers, surreys, tandem bikes and of course kids’ bikes.
Getting There: Santee Lakes Regional Park, 9310 Fanita Pkwy., Santee, CA 92071
Good To Know: If refreshments are calling, visit the general store near lake five for snacks and drinks. There are restrooms dotted along the bike path as well.
Start at the western edge of Balboa Park and meander through a tree-lined field far away from the high pedestrian areas of Balboa. This bike path from 1.5 to 4.1-miles is perfect for your beginning riders as they’ll love the flat paved pathways and the short distance. You’ll be able to see the occasional lawn bowl match happening or doggy families on their way to the dog park just south of this bike trail. Also, there aren’t any restrooms directly on this bike route, so if nature is calling, you’ll need to head east on El Prado and venture into the main buildings within the park.
Getting There: There is free parking available on Balboa Dr. Once you start your ride, be sure to follow the #1 round green trail markers to stick to the right path. If you want to extend your ride and pick up an extra three or so miles around the park’s museum and gardens, follow the #2 square light orange trail markers.
-––Lenya McGrath & Nikki Walsh