The Best Bike Ride Around Mission Bay – The Long Version and Photo Journal (for those who will never ride it)

by on April 30, 2013 · 5 comments

in California, Environment, Life Events, Ocean Beach

Mission Bay bike map Apr2013

Originally posted Apr 20, 2013 (has not been updated)

A Chronicle of the Best Bicycle Route around Mission Bay, San Diego

This is a chronicle – complete with a photo journal  – of the best bicycle ride around Mission Bay.  It is a ride that has been honed by the author – along with a few friends – over the last three decades – since the early Eighties.

It is a ride along a route that has a minimum of traffic and street exposure, and it is a route that is approximately …. 13 miles round trip from the Ocean Beach Skateboard Park in Robb Field.

(Editor: See the “short” version here)

It is a bike ride that is chronicled for two types of people:

  • those who actually try the route (or already have), and
  • those who will never ride it – (although they may walk parts or even all of it).

The main method of my chronicle is a photo journal that accompanies this introduction. And I must ask – even beg – for the reader’s patience – as the horrendous number of photos that follows could seem to be too challenging, too intimidating, too eye-glazing – but for those who will never ride a bike around the route’s curves and view – this is it.  No, there is no video attached to youtube for you to watch.

This is – perhaps you may call it “old school” – a photo journal – with photos, pics – of a route that normally takes me about an hour and three quarters to ride. Yet it took me two days to chronicle it.  Plus, each photo was personally edited and re-sized and probably cropped.

My photos have captured the best of Mission Bay, especially the myriad of human activity the surrounds and permeates the largest aquatic park on the West Coast.

Why Mission Bay? Why Now?

Yes, Mission Bay is the largest playground of any “re-stored” lagoons in California and elsewhere this side of the Rockies. It is a great public resource and still has enough attributes of nature and wildlife to make biking around it a most pleasurable experience.

Why now? It’s spring, the flowers are blooming, the sun is – mostly – shining. It’s a great time to get out and get some exercise. And what better way to do that than to take advantage of this great park at OBceans’ and others’ fingertips.

I have been biking around these waters since the early Eighties and as I lived in OB the vast majority of these past decades, the following route is indeed OB-centric – and it begins in Ocean Beach.

The route I recommend has, as I’ve mentioned, a minimum exposure to vehicles, traffic and streets.  The route follows mostly bike and pedestrian paths, the San Diego River asphalt road, but there are a few spots where there are no real bike paths and the bicyclist must take to the roadway, yet even the streets that are traveled have minimum traffic themselves.

The route favors bike paths over sidewalks, and sidewalks over streets and/or painted bike paths. And along the way, I will note alternative routes or interesting side trips.  There are plenty of rest areas and restrooms along the route, and it does avoid high pedestrian areas – like the Mission Beach Boardwalk.  Unfortunately, you are exposed to the noise and toxins of the freeway for about 3 miles, as you glide along the River and next to I-8.

Some factors to consider: time of week – more pedestrians, joggers and bicyclists on the weekends, of course. Wind is a definite consideration, and it is because of the headwinds that I recommend heading east at first, so there are a minimum of wind returning to Ocean Beach.

The General Route

The route takes off from the OB Skateboard Park at the terminus of I-8 and right next to the San Diego River and goes east (there’s usually plenty of parking in Robb Field). For 3 miles it follows the River and then it jumps up to a short stretch of Pacific Highway, crosses the River and then dumps down onto the bike paths of East Mission Bay.

From there you travel north. If you can imagine Mission Bay as a giant 4-leaf clover, with the bottom 2 leafs squashed, then you are circulating the outer lines of those leafs.  You pass Fiesta Island and ride along shady paths next to white sand and lush green lawns of the park. At the tip of the right top leaf, you enter DeAnza Cove, and then turn west, cross the new Mike Gotch pedestrian bridge over Rose .. Creek.

At that point, you have to take to the streets around Crown Point, but you drop down to more parkland and travel over to the north-west quadrant of the clover.  Peddling on the “inside” bike paths of Mission Bay, you hardly ever see a car.  Finally, you head south and turn towards OB with the Mission Beach Roller Coaster off to your right and rear.

You complete the circle by crossing the San Diego River once again and turn right towards the Skate Board Park and the end of the trip.


Mission Bay BikeRide 1Q bikemap

Frank’s bike resting on map board.

Check out the following photo chronicle of the best route around Mission Bay.


{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

gristmiller May 1, 2013 at 1:46 pm

What a gift!


cahlo January 5, 2014 at 7:10 am

thanks, frank! used to do that route often when I lived in ob and enjoyed it every time…


gristmiller March 8, 2014 at 2:28 pm

Just finished this ride and it was GREAT!.. What a GOLD coast in PB!…and how noticeably unkempt are OB beach public areas. Thanks.


OBC April 3, 2017 at 9:21 am

Man, love the routes and LOVE the pics. Thanks for sharing, Frank.


Poldo April 6, 2017 at 9:17 pm

I work on Morena Blvd. I rode my bike a few times to work, it was lovely for 90% of the way, but the area right at the end of the bike path to Morena is too dangerous to go regularly. You basically emerge from the path and immediately have to cross over the exit ramp from the 8 to Morena, where people are going 45mph and can’t see far ahead because of the curve. You then proceed and have to navigate the Morena/Linda Vista Blvd split which involves two very long lights to cross a single street. At that point a bike lane on Morena starts and it gets fairly safe again, though Morena is still a somewhat dangerous road.

It looks like I could take your path and exit the river bike path on Pacific Hwy and then cross the 5 on Sea World Drive. But biking Sea World Drive on the stretch with all the on and off ramps looks dangerous too.

Is there a way under the 5 along Tecolote Creek? Then there are train tracks. Can you just cross them or go under them?


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