North Park to Ocean Beach by Bike – the Best Route

by on March 28, 2013 · 7 comments

in Culture, Health, Ocean Beach

NP - OB bike Route map

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.

John P Anderson bikeI’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.

OB Pier - from Wikipedia

 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.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Citizen Cane March 29, 2013 at 10:22 am

Yes, I like that route. Plus that stretch on Pacific Highway got improved last year. Your route also allows for a pit stop at Perry’s Cafe.

There is another way that avoids the transit hub and the tourist mayhem of Old Town. You might want to scout it without the trailer. Proceed as you would from North Park to Ocean Beach, but turn right (not left) on Cosoy. At a hairpin turn you’ll see a restroom. Portage your bike across the grass and find the primitive trail behind the restroom. You want the trail that leads down canyon to Taylor Street. I haven’t been there in a while, so I’m not sure of current conditions. Head right (East) on Taylor to the bridge over I-8. Use the West sidewalk on the bridge. This will wrap you around to heading West on Hotel Circle Place…a lazy street that dead ends in the Presidio bll fields and the Eastern end of the Ocean Beach Bike Trail. It’s not perfect. It does put you close to drivers with a freeway mindset, but it does allow you to enjoy the full length of the OB Bike Trail…especially the woody East end.

Something I’ve wondered about but haven’t tried…a portage up or down the Allen Road Nature Trail (North of Stockton.) Are bicycles forbidden there? It seems like a nice way to include a serene rest stop in the middle of your bike ride.


Frank Gormlie March 29, 2013 at 11:04 am

Citizen Cane? So good to hear from you, dude! Can you send us an update on your travels? At


John Anderson March 29, 2013 at 1:09 pm

Thanks for the tips – I’ll check it out. I’m not familiar with the Allen Road Nature Trail but I’ll scope that out too. Hoping to do some additional routes I like (and guest routes) in the near future so might do a write-up on that if it works out well.


john March 30, 2013 at 2:46 am

In the first line of the written out directions you state – “Head west from North Park on 30th toward and through Hillcrest” – 30th runs north and south. Should this read something more like, “head west from 30th on University Ave through Hillcrest”? Kind of confusing and I just spent a couple minutes studying the linked maps and my guess is that is just and oversight.


John Anderson March 30, 2013 at 2:37 pm

John – you are correct and my apologies for the error. I’ve requested an edit and the text should be updated shortly.

Thanks for reading I hope you enjoy the ride if you try it out. Take care.


Brad April 3, 2013 at 10:07 am

Is there no better way to get to Mission Hills from NP aside from University? Recently moved from the coast to NP and need to figure out a good route. University seems manageable if it’s just me on a road bike, but with a trailer I feel like I’d be in panic mode the whole time.


John Anderson April 3, 2013 at 12:11 pm

Brad – You could take El Cajon Boulevard / Washington Street but I find those to be much faster and intense than University since they’re much bigger roads. Those are the only two options that go straight through, but if you wanted a side street option you could use Howard (one south of El Cajon) and then go down Park Boulevard to University or up to Washington and continue over.

SANDAG is in the process of taking community input regarding connecting City Heights through to Hillcrest more bicycle-friendly. I’m a strong advocate of bike lanes on University to make it more enjoyable and usable for cyclists like yourself. Check out their website (below) to voice your opinion and help make more bike infrastructure a reality.


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