Salt Creek Trail

CYCLE ORANGE COUNTY, SIGHTSEEING RIDE, SALT CREEK TRAIL This outing starts and finishes in Dana Point but not before looping through the City of Laguna Niguel. Setting out from Salt Creek Beach, one of the most beautiful settings in Orange County, the bike ride steadily climbs through Salt Creek Corridor before returning along wide thoroughfares. Expect panoramic ocean views, mansions perched above the ocean, stunning natural habitat and posh resorts. From the parking lot of Salt Creek Beach Park, head through the mural-painted tunnel towards the beach, watching your downhill speed. Before the traffic turnaround, turn right on the path that cuts through the green lawns. This is the beginning of Salt Creek Trail and it is a beloved path used by pedestrians, joggers, surfers and cyclists. For the first mile expect a great deal of pedestrian traffic. The views through here are distracting, stay alert. Straddling the trail are Monarch Beach and Ritz Carlton resorts with golf links, spas and glitzy reputations as a playground for the wealthy and famous. The resorts may be expensive, but parking is cheap here and the beach is free; throw out a blanket, bring a picnic and enjoy the surf. Niguel Marine Life Refuge is just to the south, turn left instead of right at the bottom of the hill and you will reach it in minutes. Leaving the beach the route soon passes over undulating hills. Expect short but steep climbs through Salt Creek Corridor Regional Park. Hiking trails pass through the creek and birders will find hawks soaring above while California thrashers and roadrunners hunt down the ridiculous number of lizards that prefer to sun themselves along the bike path. At the top of Salt Creek Corridor the route heads through a tunnel under Niguel Road. Near the top of your ascent is Marina Hills Park, a long, welcoming green space. Pause for water and restrooms, take in a game of bocce. From here, one last climb and the route reaches Golden Lantern and then it is downhill to the sea. As you travel along Golden Lantern stay alert as the right turn onto the bike path at 6.43 miles, shortly after Sardina Lane, arrives just as you are hitting top speeds and there are no signs to warn you. FOOD AND DRINK Visit Fratello’s or Amber’s Cantina, both located in Clubhouse Plaza along Niguel Road, intersecting with the route at 8.70 miles. ACCESS By bus, OCTA routes 1 and 85 make stops at the intersection of Pacific Coast Highway and Niguel Road, near the ride’s start. By car, take exit 79, Pacific Coast Highway, off of Interstate 5 and head northbound. After 3.5 miles turn left onto Ritz Carlton Drive then take the first right into the parking lot.
Ride type:
Mountain biking
Road riding
Kid friendly
Rail Trail
Difficulty: Intermediate (Red)
Ride Duration: 1-2 hrs
Fitness Level: Medium
Shared Bike Path - Paved
Shared Bike Path - Dirt
On-Road Bike Lane
Off-Road - Fire Trail
Off-Road - Rail Trail
Off-Road - Single Track
Off-Road - Downhill
Estimated Distance: 18.0
First Aid
Bike hire
Bike servicing
Accessible by bike
Accessible by car
Accessible by public transport
Accessible by shuttle / uber
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