Best East Bay Bike Rides

We have rounded up our top 11 routes that rock for awesome road biking.


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Photo by Pat Mazzera

(page 1 of 3)

Whipping a bike down the Morgan Territory Road’s hairpin turns, the landscape a jade jumble in the periphery, is a glorious experience on a fine spring day. It’s also a fitting finish to the uphill pedal thrash that precedes the summit of the Morgan Territory Regional Preserve. It is prime bike-riding territory, and the East Bay is full of similar places ripe for cycling.

This guide offers 11 standout paved rides, and represents only a small sample of East Bay biking options. Exploring locally by pedal power is best when it can be done without relying on cars and then on routes with little traffic. General descriptions are included here and shouldn’t be your only source. Two great resources are Grizzly Peak Cyclists (www.GrizzlyPeakCyclists.com) and Jay’s Essential Bike Rides (www.BestRides.org). Pump up your tires and clip in for some amazing adventures full of stunning vistas, pristine shorelines, tree-lined roads, and palette-popping wildflowers.

 

 

Zampa and Benicia Bridges Loop

Start: In CrockettMiles: 25-mile loopLevel: Moderate Highlight: Water views around Carquinez Strait

These bridges bracket Carquinez Strait, where the San Francisco Bay transitions to the delta. Start at the Dead Fish restaurant in Crockett to jump on the dedicated pedestrian/bike path running north across the Zampa Bridge to Vallejo.

On the other side, turn right on Maritime Academy Drive and continue across Sonoma Boulevard at the light. Turn left on Fifth Street, right on Lemon, right on Benicia Road, right on Columbus Parkway, right on Rose to leave traffic behind in the Benicia State Recreation Area and ride along the San Francisco Bay Trail. Use West K Street to head to Benicia’s historical downtown.

Continue along K Street and wiggle left along East Third Street, right on East L Street, and left on East Seventh Street to turn right on Military East. Turn left at Jefferson and left on Park Road to pick up the pedestrian/bike path for the Benicia Bridge and follow signs to Martinez on Marina Vista Road. Turn right on Talbart Street, which takes you to the Carquinez Scenic Drive and more of the Bay Trail on the way back to Crockett’s Pomona Street.

—CO


Airport Loop

Start: Union Point Park, OaklandMiles: 15-mile loop Level: EasyHighlights: Planes, photo-ops, and watermelon

Plan to meander on flat, easy paths and roads. Beginning at Union Point Park on Embarcadero, spin south and cross the Park Street Bridge. Catch the immediate left. Curve along Alameda’s tip to the pedestrian/bike bridge spanning San Leandro Bay to Bay Farm Island. Once across, hang a right on the San Francisco Bay Trail for wide views of the bay and beyond. Follow the shoreline. After the Harbor Bay Ferry Terminal, watch the airplanes fly. Onward—via a generous bike path bordering Ron Cowan Parkway—to the airport itself, then swing left to parallel the BART tram tracks.

Turning left at Doolittle Drive, expect traffic, but slightly past Swan Way, look for the rock shaped like a watermelon slice sticking up out of the Airport Channel. Check out the Oakland Aviation Museum on the left. Finally, turn right into the Model Airplane Field. Watch smaller planes fly. Cruise around Mount Trashmore to the blue bridge. From there, retrace your steps—or pedals, that is, back to Union Point Park.

—KH


Mount Diablo

Start: Walnut Creek BART stationMiles: 40-mile loopLevel: Challenging Highlights: Panoramic views and bragging rights

The 3,849-foot climb to the top of Mount Diablo is the pinnacle of all rides for East Bay cyclists. Hundreds, from amateurs to professionals, take the challenge every weekend.

From Walnut Creek BART, head through downtown Walnut Creek to the Iron Horse Trail and then the Contra Costa Canal Trail. You’ll enter Mt. Diablo State Park at about mile five to begin the 11-mile climb. The grade is less than 7 percent for most of the way; only the last short segment is very steep. There’s no shame in walking.

The narrow road winds through spectacular oak woodlands, teeming with colorful spring wildflowers. Red-tailed hawks and vultures circle overhead; in early fall you might need to steer clear of a mate-seeking tarantula.

The summit view is 100 percent worth the effort. On a clear day you’ll have 360-degree views of the Sierra Nevada, other mountains, and eight bridges. The ride back down the south side is mostly fun; take care on the turns. Make your way back on bike lanes through leafy upscale Contra Costa towns, including Danville, to BART.

—JB

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