By John P Anderson
I’ve only lived in North Park for a couple of months but have been working on finding the best route to get from here to Ocean Beach, my favorite San Diego beach, since I moved in. The biggest issue is finding a good route from the mesa that North Park is on down into Mission Valley. Once in Mission Valley the very solid path along the San Diego River takes you comfortably and quickly directly west to the Pacific Ocean.
I’ve tried various routes into Mission Valley – Texas Street in North Park, Fairmount Avenue between Kensington and City Heights, Bachman Place in Hillcrest – but found them all lacking. Fairmount is very, very intense (read: dangerous) on a bike and Texas only slightly less so. Bachman Place is a much better alternative although it is a meandering windy road down the hill, not bad for cruising down but quite a long haul back up. Recently I was informed of a path through Old Town and it is my favorite by far. After a couple of practice runs I took this trip “in earnest” this week.
“In earnest” refers to my hybrid bike with trailer, two-year-old, and beach accoutrements behind. It’s a good distance (a little over eight miles) from North Park to Ocean Beach and I wanted to make sure I had a good route in hand before taking the journey with Eva being towed behind me.
Below is a map of my route or you can check out this version on Google Maps.
Turn by turn, the route (basically) is:
- From 30th Street and University Avenue in North Park, head west on University toward and through Hillcrest
- After going through Hillcrest, turn right onto Goldfinch
- Turn left onto Lewis Street (take a gander into the canyon below as you turn – gorgeous)
- Lewis Street ends and becomes Fort Stockton via a slight right turn
- Fort Stockton ends, turn right onto Arista Street
- Take a right onto Presidio Drive
- Just as you are entering Presidio Park take a sharp left onto Cosoy Way which quickly becomes Jackson Street and sharply descends
- Take a left onto Mason Street then a right onto Juan Street on the edge of Old Town
- Take a left on Taylor Street then a right onto Pacific Highway
- Just after you ride under Interstate 8 take the right entrance onto the San Diego river bike path
- Straight on until morning (also known as Dog Beach in Ocean Beach)
If you prefer the main Ocean Beach surf scene, take a left onto Bacon Street at the end of Robb Field, then turn right on Saratoga followed by a left on Abbott Street to end up at the foot of Newport Avenue aka paradise itself in San Diego.
Why is this my favorite route to Ocean Beach?
There is little vehicle traffic other than on University Avenue and the steep part up Juan and Jackson in Old Town is short and sweet. Lewis Street and Fort Stockton Drive in Mission Hills are beautiful with large trees and historic homes all around. Even University Avenue isn’t bad – but would be much better with bike lanes.
Looking at the elevation map below you can see the tough part (at least on the way back to North Park) is just the hill heading up from Old Town to Mission Hills. I prefer a short, hard ride up rather than a longer, gradual incline and this route fits that bill. If you prefer a longer, slightly more gradual ride Bachman Place gets my second place vote.
If you’re hungry at the end of your ride you can find the best fish tacos in San Diego (maybe the world?) at South Beach Bar & Grille (5059 Newport Avenue, 92107), a great beer selection at Pizza Port Ocean Beach (1956 Bacon Street, 92107), or a wide variety of high quality produce and other goods at the Ocean Beach People’s Organic Food Market (4765 Voltaire Street, 92107) before making the return trip.
Enjoy the ride and I hope to see you cycling on the street, and relaxing at the beach, soon. Take care.
John P Anderson is a regular columnist at San Diego Free Press, lives in North Park, is a bicycling enthusiast, loves OB, and he and his partner are about to have their second child.