This popular route loops through the most southerly section of the city of Irvine. The ride offers spectacular views of luxurious hilltop homes and pristine canyons as it meanders through one of Irvine’s most exclusive neighborhoods. The two climbs, following one after the other, are just steep and long enough to make you feel you earned that long, downhill return.
The ride begins at William R. Mason Regional Park which is bisected by Culver Drive. The first section is largely manicured lawns, man-made lakes and parking lots; the second section is a more natural environment populated by native plants and animals. Riding through this park allows you to ride completely on bike paths, however if you are interested in a more direct, speedy route, many poeple travel along University Drive in the on-street bike path until the off-street bike path picks up at Ridgeline Drive, 2.21 miles from the start.
At 4.40 miles you will reach Quail Hill, the base of the steepest section of the ride. To the right is the Quail Hill trailhead which is a mostly flat 2.8-mile hike. Near the trailhead are free parking lots, restrooms, benches and drinking fountains and many riders use this as a meet-up spot. From here nearly half of the climbing on this ride lies immediately ahead of you and is without a doubt the most challenging section of the ride.
At mile 6.99, the route passes Bommer Canyon with restrooms, water and picnic tables sitting at the foot of some imposing hillsides. This natural area is crisscrossed by trails open to everyone biking or walking. From this point on, the ride is almost completely downhill.
When you reach MacArthur Boulevard you will have a decision to make: cross to the far side and travel along the MacArthur side path or simply turn right and travel in the on-street path down the boulevard. The side path is bumpy and rutted at times which at the high speeds I achieved along this section made me nervous. On the positive side, it was car-free. Riding through the on-street lanes was actually much smoother and I felt safer. The lane is wide, but the traffic zips by at high speeds. Either way, the ride returns to a better-maintained path at the corner of Bison Avenue and MacArthur Boulevard.
At 12.04 Turning right will complete the ride.
At 13.47 miles the route leaves San Diego Creek after a blind curve so stay alert or you could easily ride by it.
By bus, both OCTA bus 79 and 175 make stops at the corner of University and Culver Drive. By car, take exit 5, Culver Drive, off Interstate 405 and head southbound 0.8 miles. Turn right onto University Drive and travel a quarter mile before turning left into park. Once inside, turn right and follow park roads to the last parking lot which is beside the ride’s start.
Food and drink
At 11.10 miles the route passes Newport North Center has dining opportunities.
21.2 km / 13.173 mi
213 m / 699 ft
213 m / 699 ft
105 m / 344 ft