20 best bike paths in the West
Get to know these Western routes the way the locals do ― on two wheels
Here are our favorite routes for exploring the West on two wheels. For even more trails, including descriptions, maps, and GPS coordinates, visit the Rails to Trails Conservancy's trailink.com
1 | SAMMAMISH RIVER TRAIL, REDMOND, WA (11 miles)
The Sammamish connects to the northeastern terminus of Seatttle's popular Burke-Gilman trail (make a left at the fork after crossing 96th NE). The scenic 11-mile Sammamish, continues past the wineries in Woodinville to Redmond and the popular Redhook Brewery. Info: www.kingcounty.gov/recreation/parks/trails/regionaltrailssystem/sammamishriver.aspx
2 | SPRINGWATER CORRIDOR, PORTLAND TO BORING, OR (40 miles)
Portland is synonymous with biking thanks to trails like this one, which runs through the city along the Willamette River and over the famous, double-lift Steel Bridge (a boat, train, cars, runners and cyclists can simultaneously cross above or under it) to the town of Boring. This loop, which may eventually link to the Pacific Crest Trail, ends in Boring, however, it's anything but. Info: www.portlandonline.com/parks/finder/index.cfm?PropertyID=679&action=ViewPark
3 | IRON HORSE REGIONAL TRAIL, CONCORD, CA (24.5 miles)
Stretching two counties and 12 cities along I-680 (from Concord to Dublin), this trail is the ultimate connector – and a beautiful ride, to boot. With multiple access points to each town's commercial districts, you've got your pick of rest stops for a coffee, bathroom break or bench to kick up your cleats. You can even tee up at the San Ramon Golf Club – the path slices through the green before reaching Dublin. Info: www.ebparks.org/parks/trails/iron_horse
4 | PROVO RIVER PARKWAY, PROVO, UT (15 miles)
Meander along the Provo River in Utah Lake State Park to the mouth of Provo Canyon on this path that picks up a slight gradual incline. Some short, steep climbs make it challenging at times, but its well-worth it. The reward: Bridal Veil Falls. The rushing water, which drops 600+ feet through a double cascade, is the perfect escape. Info: www.traillink.com/trail/provo-river-parkway.aspx
5 | BAYSHORE BIKEWAY, SAN DIEGO, CA (12.5 miles)
Views of the beautiful bay and San Diego skyline makes this palm tree-lined path one of the most memorable in county. The trail ties a handful of communities, including National City, Chula Vista and Coronado, as well as several wildlife preserves. Look up every once in a while to spot birds crossing the Pacific Flyway, a major avian highway that runs from Alaska to Patagonia! Info: www.sandag.org/index.asp?projectid=63&fuseaction=projects.detail
6 | PLATTE RIVER TRAIL, DENVER, CO (28.5 miles)
With the Rockies in the backdrop and the smooth trail ahead of you, roll into Denverfor lunch before heading north toward Henderson into high plains. The river ride turns into the Mary Carter Greenway, which continues to Chatfield State Park. There, it connects to the five other cool trails. In between: cafes, botanical gardens and lots of parks. Info: www.traillink.com/trail/platte-river-trail.aspx
7 | AMERICAN RIVER, SACRAMENTO, CA (32 miles)
You'll find plenty of access points, mile-markers, maps, water fountains, and restrooms on this shady two-lane trail, which starts in Discovery Park in Old Sacramento and ends at Folsom Lake. Break for a swim, picnic in the park, or snack at a cute restaruant along the way. Tip: You won't find solitude on this trail, particularly on weekends when walkers, skaters, and equestrians flock here. Info: www.trailsfromrails.com/american_river_trail.htm
Sunset's solutions for the most common biking problems
- Problem: Too much traffic.
- Solution: The best driving route is never the best one for biking, because that's where the cars are. To find the best bike route, channel your inner 8-year-old to think about your neighborhood: Can you cut through the cul de sac into the back of a park, then on a side road with little traffic? That's the best way. Or, a road with wide bike lanes.
- Problem: What if I get a flat tire?
- Solution: Your phone is your best friend. Call someone you know for a ride, or look up the nearest bike shop. If it’s close by, walk there. Better World Club, a Portland-based eco-minded auto club, offers nationwide bicycle roadside assistance for $40/year (or $17 with auto membership). And for you MacGyvers, many bike shops offer flat-fixing seminars.
- Problem: Helmets—not a good look.
- Solution: You're right. We got nothing. Except that no one has ever regretted wearing one, only the opposite.
- Problem: I live too far away from everything to integrate biking into my day.
- Solution: Think about where you can bike from. Work? Keep a bike at your office, and use it to go the .8 miles to Chipotle for lunch. Downtown? Drive to a periperhal parking lot, then bike around town to do all your errands.