7 Best Bike Paths Around Irvine, CA

January 20th, 2022 by

Irvine, California, is a great place to be if you love to bike. The city has a network of bike trails that link up not only with each other but also with Irvine’s bike lanes and other parts of the city, like parks and popular streets. We’ve put together a list of seven trails with a variety of lengths and difficulty levels so you can get the exact bike ride you crave.

San Diego Creek Trail

San Diego Creek Trail is a favorite among Irvine cyclists because it serves as a connection point for Irvine’s network of bike trails and cyclist lanes. It begins in Newport Beach, but you can access the trail from many spots in Irvine, including Peter’s Canyon Trail and Jeffrey Open Space Trail. In total, the trail is 9.3 miles of concrete, with endpoints at Jamboree Road and Eastbluff Drive in Newport Beach and State Route 133 north of I-405 in Irvine.

This trail is great for long rides because it’s relatively flat and offers a lot of beautiful scenery. You’ll find a few rest areas, and of course, you can always transition off the trail and into Irvine from one of the many other trails and parks that intersect it.

Santa Ana River Trail

The Santa Ana River Trail goes by Irvine’s northwest side. The closest entrance if you’re coming by car is at Huntington Beach, which is about 10 miles away depending on where in Irvine you’re located. This trail is 50.3 miles long and crosses through three counties: Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino. When you start at the Huntington Beach trailhead, you can ride south to the two nearby state beaches and the city beach and pier. 

If you go in the other direction, you’ll go by the Santa Ana River and both the baseball and hockey stadiums. Make it over to Anaheim, and you can expect the trail to become particularly scenic as you start experiencing some hills. The trail is divided into two segments right now. Past Anaheim is where the first segment and the second are disconnected. However, if you’re accessing the trail from Irvine, this first segment will be perfect for a long and satisfying ride.

Jeffrey Open Space Trail

This trail is unique for its intaglio panels that chronicle 500 years of Irvine Ranch history. Jeffrey Open Space Trail is a mix of asphalt and concrete; it flows through commercial and residential space as well as open spaces.

The trail came to life thanks to the Irvine community and serves as an important link between conservation and open space lands. Right now, the trail is broken into three segments totaling 4.1 miles, but by 2024 the segments should be connected for one long and beautiful ride. You can join this trail from San Diego Creek Trail or University Trail near I-405, or at Portola Pkwy. and Jeffrey Rd.

Walnut Trail

Walnut Trail is a 3.1-mile rail-trail that runs along an active rail line and connects with several other of Irvine’s bike trails. It also offers access to several of Irvine’s roads, like Yale Avenue and Culver Drive However, if you want to stay on the trail and avoid these roads, underpasses and overpasses allow you an uninterrupted ride. Walnut Trail also connects with one of the segments of Jeffrey Open Space Trail.

Asphalt provides a smooth ride, and if you want to keep going after you’ve biked all of this trail, the Harvard Ave. trailhead connects to several other trails that allow you to keep going on your Irvine biking adventure. To access Walnut trail at either end, go to Sand Canyon Avenue just south of Burt Road, or head to Harvard Avenue north of Deerfield.

Peters Canyon Trail

We know some of you want a trail you can safely ride at night, and Peters Canyon Trail is the place to do that. The trail is in two segments, and both of them run along a tributary of San Diego Creek called Peters Canyon Wash. If you’d like to connect them, you can grab Harvard Trail at Warner Avenue to avoid the active railroad that cuts through Peters Canyon Trail. 

Much of this asphalt and concrete is gorgeously landscaped, so it’s definitely a great choice for some of your daytime rides, too. You can also connect up with bike lanes that run along Portola Parkway. if you want to ride into Irvine. Otherwise, be sure to look out for where this trail connects with other favorites, like Walnut Trail and San Diego Creek Trail.

Shady Canyon Trail

If you’re looking for a more challenging ride, we recommend Shady Canyon Trail. It runs along Shady Canyon Drive and runs through Irvine Ranch, offering you good hills and scenic views. Use the Quail Head Trailhead to pick up Shady Canyon Trail from other trials in Irvine’s network, or start at its other end (Bonita Canyon Trail) and plan to add another few miles to your journey by catching Juanita Moe Trail. 

The best views along Shady Canyon’s 4-mile length can be found in Bommer Canyon, where you can see vistas of natural space dotted with impressive neighborhoods. This is also the part of the trail where you’ll find some hills.

Quail Hill Loop Trail

The Quail Hill Loop Trail is a 2-mile natural surface trail that runs through Irvine Ranch. The coolest part of this trail is the free self-guided tour you can access from your smartphone. Along the trail are numbered locations, and all you have to do is call 949-743-5943 and input the numbered landmark you’re currently looking at, followed by the pound sign. The audio guide will give you information from experts on the trail’s natural resources and features. You can also hit 0 followed by the pound key if you want to leave an anonymous comment. There are five numbered landmarks.

There you have Capistrano Volkswagen’s list of best bike paths around Irvine, offering you a variety of riding experiences. Did we list your favorite bike path, or are we missing out on a great option? Let us know what you think so we can add to this list.

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