JAUNTS : Bike Route Offers an Easy Coastal Tour : The path from Ventura Pier to the mouth of Channel Islands Harbor provides about 20 miles of scenic views.


This has not been a good season for county bicyclists.

The collapse of the Main Street bridge over the Ventura River closed off the coastline route north of the city of Ventura. Flooding and mudslides also shut down the popular Ojai Valley Trail, a scenic 8.8-mile path from Ventura to Ojai. And a chunk of Simi Valley’s Arroyo Simi Bike Trail is also closed for flood repair.

But all that is no reason to stay home. Consider the picturesque coastal ride from the venerable Ventura Pier, past Ventura Harbor and down to the mouth of Channel Islands Harbor.

The round trip is 20 to 22 miles, depending on any scenic detours you might take. Of course, you don’t have to tackle the whole distance. There are plenty of turnaround spots along the way. Most of the route is on a marked bike lane or path.


Starting at the pier, follow the bike path south along the beach. Pedaling past the dunes of San Buenaventura State Beach, you’ll travel an easy mile before the path ends at San Pedro Street.

Pierpont Boulevard guides you through the beachy Pierpont district, still a haven for surfers and sightseers. Following the green bike-lane signs, turn left onto Peninsula Street. (Continuing on Pierpont Boulevard takes you into Marina Park for ocean views and a “kid stop” by the shipwreck playground.)

Peninsula Street winds into the Ventura Keys, a pricey waterside neighborhood where many homes come with private docks. The bike lane signs help you zigzag through the Keys--via Seahorse Avenue, Oyster Street, Seaview Avenue, Beachmont Street, Anchors Way and Navigator Drive--all the way to Ventura Harbor without venturing onto busy Harbor Boulevard.

From here, at almost the four-mile mark, you can take Spinnaker Drive to the harbor for an ice cream cone, a stroll by the docks, or a visit to the Channel Islands National Park visitor center. If you continue south, get onto Harbor Boulevard, staying clear to the right in the bike lane. Although traffic roars by, the space for bikes is fairly wide, and the road is flat and straight.

The route takes you over the Santa Clara River, a bracing experience, with the raging water swirling beneath you and a wide-open view of the estuary and the ocean off to the right. The bridge has enclosed lanes for bicyclists, making the crossing a little less nerve-racking.

McGrath State Beach is at the five-mile mark. You can stop here for a stroll on the beach, a look at the birds in the estuary, or a quick jaunt around a nature trail loop. (Unlike motorists, bicyclists don’t have to pay a fee.)


Back on Harbor Boulevard, the route cuts through farms on one side and the massive Southern California Edison plant on the other. You can continue on Harbor Boulevard to Channel Islands Harbor, or you can detour onto West 5th Street for a quieter, more pleasant stretch next to the sand along Mandalay Beach Road.

This scenic detour takes you onto a bike path that meanders through palm-studded Oxnard State Beach and in front of the Spanish-style Mandalay Beach Resort. Close to the harbor, you can get back on Harbor Boulevard and take it into Harbor Landing, where you can lunch on everything from pizza to sushi. Take time for a stroll along a walkway and a look at the fishing boats, yachts and sailboats.

If you continue down to the end of Harbor Boulevard, stop at the point and watch the boats glide in and out of the harbor. Toward the sea, the surf pounds the breakwater. Here, at the final turnaround point, consider pedaling back along Ocean Drive, through the picturesque Hollywood-By-The-Sea neighborhood, with its collection of old and new beach homes, before starting the trek back to Ventura.

If Ventura proceeds with its plan to repair the Main Street bridge to allow bicycles and emergency vehicles on the north lane, bicyclists could be riding up the coast in a month or two, said John Betonte, the city’s maintenance services manager.

Meanwhile, determined bicyclists can strap their bikes onto a car, drive north on the Ventura Freeway, exit onto the Old Rincon Highway and cycle up the coast from there.

When will the Ojai Valley Trail reopen? Pam Gallo, operations manager for Ventura County parks, has no idea.


“The trail is beat up,” damaged by mud, water, rocks and debris, she said.

The outlook is better in Simi Valley. The 6.5-mile Arroyo Simi Bike Trail is closed along a half-mile stretch west of Tapo Street, but that portion should be open by next week, according to Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District’s Rick Johnson.