Posted by: mixed terrain. | July 15, 2008

Where the hiker-bikers at?

On a recent trip down the Pacific Coast from Monterey to San Diego we discovered (with the help of our out-dated Adventure Cycling maps, circa 1993) that a number of the CA coast’s hiker biker facilities have disappeared over the past decade. (Hike and bike campsites are reserved for non-motorized users, do not require a reservation, and cost between $3-$5 in California.)

These disappearances are particularly detrimental on the stretch of coastline between LA and San Diego.

Two hiker biker site closures in particular (at San Onofre Beach State Park, 43 miles south of Long Beach, and at South Carlsbad State Beach, 84 miles south of Long Beach) within the last 15 years mean that a local cyclist or any cycle tourist doing the coast route must bike some 90 miles (from Long Beach) south just to get to a still-functioning hike and bike site, in Cardiff-by-the-Sea.

It is obvious that both of these state campgrounds are under heavy pressure from automotive users to provide space (on the July 4th weekend all two-hundred or so sites at Carlsbad Beach were taken). However, to fail to provide just one single campsite (out of hundreds) for cyclists rolling down the coast is unconscionable.

So what’s the deal? What can we do about this? One hopes and imagines that shorter bike touring trips will become natural extensions of the growing commute and urban cycling culture in southern California–let’s make sure the infrastructure is there so that the trend is not stopped short.



  1. I’ve heard the same complaint. From another tourist that has done the coast recently, he said that the official stance is that many hike/bike sites no longer exist. The reason being is that they have had alleged problems with transients. That being said, he said, if you didn’t look like a transient and pushed the issue a little further he was able to get a site.

  2. I rode Portland to SF and have to say the biking infrastructure and hike and bike availability started sucking hard after crossing the state line into Cal. It was depressing. Even more depressing was after breathetaking riding on the 101 in Oregon…I arrived at the border (fruit inspection point)and the US101 turned into narrow, heavy traffic, 2 lane with Semis and RV s and no shoulder, under construction dirt, clay and gravel road which immediately gave me a pinch flat. I think Cal Government just does’nt get it. We don’t even have a share the road license plate, Texas and Arkansas even have them oh well…I think the only reason I bike tour is to get out of Cal and into less dense and more bike friendly areas.

  3. I gree 100% after riding Oregon Cal is the pits. Good luck to those trying to get a call back from the park.The one by Cardiff by the sea told mr they do not offer H.B. sites and yet their web age says they do. I had to pay the full price for a couple of nights. I was given the excuce of ‘we had problems” well the have problems with regular campers and the have not banned them. If anyome has an idea on how to return a site or two to those of us who tour on a bicycle please drop me a line

  4. I flew into San Francisco with my Bike Friday last August (2009) and rode South 300+ miles to Pismo Beach. The Hikler/Biker sites were fantastic. Before leaving I did find that Pismo Beach H/B camping was closed. Half Moon Bay – great. Sunset Beach – great. Big Sur – great. It would be nice if there were a site with regular updates for H/B camping along the Pacific Coast.

    Also, the road was perfect except for Devil’s Slide, heading South from Pacifica – NO curb lane and a long climb. When doing that with a trailer in tow it’s a bit nerve wracking. Although, the cars sitting behind me were exceedingly nice. Not one shout, honk, or other. They simply waited and passed when they could.

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