California has a wealth of routes ideal for motorbike rides.
Whether you’re a highly-skilled biker looking to test your new Ducati, or you’re a beginner looking to rent a motorbike somewhere in LA and spend some time travelling around this sprawling state, you’re in for a treat.
The variety of scenery you’ll encounter in California ensures there’s something for all tastes. From misty mountain peaks to jagged oceanside rocks, from sea life to dessert, you’ll be subjected to staggering contrasts and nature at its finest.
Today, then, we’ve curated some loose routes to consider when you’re looking to ride a bike in California.
We’ll launch right in with a cross-section of rides for all ability levels. Make sure you ride properly protected!
10 Exhilarating Motorbike Routes in California
Table of Contents
- Pacific Coast Highway 1
- Angeles Crest Highway
- Redwood Highway
- Ventura County Loop
- Joshua Tree National Park
- Sierra Way to CA-190
- Conzelman Road, San Francisco
- The Snake to The Rock Store in Los Angeles
- Montezuma Valley Road near San Diego
10. B ig Sur Coastline from Monterey to San Luis Obispo
1) Pacific Coast Highway 1
PCH is one of America’s most famous highways with just cause. This 655-mile stretch of coastal roadway serves up a seemingly endless display of natural beauty and stunning scenery. Arguably the finest way to explore all that PCH has to offer is astride your iron steed.
Whether you’re travelling the whole length of PCH or just selected portions, you’ll be rewarded with some remarkable scenery. The bulk of your ride should be reasonably free of heavy traffic outside of major towns at peak hours.
Riding PCH is relaxing, liberating, and invigorating. Picture opening up the throttle and surging across the Golden Gate Bridge.
As you ride PCH, you’ll be rewarded with magnificent views of the Pacific Ocean and the invigorating breeze blowing back off the water.
Other notable highlights of PCH include Bixby Creek Bridge near Big Sur, the misty Hoh Rainforest and the roads around Malibu.
Ride PCH all the way into central Los Angeles and finish up on Mulholland Drive for a striking sunset.
2) Angeles Crest Highway
The world-famous Angeles Crest Highway slices through the Angeles National Forest, a vast wilderness in metropolitan LA.
As you snake around mountain curves, you’ll have ample opportunity to hone your cornering skills. Drink in the stark landscape and the unmistakable scent of fresh pine as you zoom around the peaks.
If you’re a fan of outdoor activities, stopping off in the Angeles National Forest gives you the chance to play some watersports, go horseback riding, or hiking in idyllic surroundings.
This short 60-mile stretch of highway is ideal if you have a day to spare and you’re looking for a shot of nature outside of the city.
3) Redwood Highway
For an ambitious route from Oregon to Leggett, ride Route 199 all the way to Route 101 and Crescent City.
You can then head south on 101 through the imposing Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park. As you barrel along, you’ll be surrounded by towering redwood trees. You’ll continue seeing these feats of nature as you continue along the coast.
It’s not just huge trees you’ll see, though. You’ll ride past an ever-changing vista of beach and ocean views interspersed with show-stopping landscapes.
This ride allows you to really connect with nature and the riding conditions are not challenging. Even if you’re not an experienced biker, this 200-mile stretch is well worth experiencing if you’re anywhere near Oregon with a day to spare.
4) Ventura County Loop
Looped routes are ideal as you’ll maximize what you can see without retracing your route and still allowing you to get back to where you started from. When you’re hiring motorbikes, always look out for good local looped routes and get the most bang for your buck.
Ventura County loop, then, is one of the finest in California. That said, it’s certainly not the most beginner-friendly route. Roads twist and turn continuously making it hard going if you’re not too experienced in the saddle.
If you’ve got the chops to take this ride on, head through Los Padres National Forest where you can get some great photos of the river gorge views and mountain backdrops.
Looping from Los Padres to Santa Maria gives you the chance to ride along some circuitous coastal roads. Again, this route is not for the faint-hearted.
5) Joshua Tree National Park
Looping through Joshua Tree National Park is another efficient way of taking in as much as possible of this sprawling area of natural beauty.
About an hour from Palm Springs and two hours from LA, you get a nice variation of freeways interspersed with rural highways ideal for your bike.
This is a gentle ride without too much by the way of twists and turns. Riding straight through the park will take you 90 minutes or so. Chances are you’ll want to stop off, though. The overall distance is roughly 70 miles covering 800,000 acres of stark desert wilderness spotted with
Bear in mind it can hit 120F in the summer so you’re better off riding through during winter if possible, although you can find snow at the higher elevations. If you are visiting over summer, aim to hit the park earlier or later in the day. Make certain you stay hydrated and protected from the sun.
6) Sierra Way to CA-190
Do you like the idea of whizzing past colossal trees full clip through a series of twisting roads with outrageous views to the valley floor?
You should consider biking through the Sequoia National Forest if you’re in California and looking for some challenging action.
Driving north on Sierra Way to CA-190, you’ll head straight through the Sequoia National Forest where winding roads are studded with enormous sequoias. Views to the valley from 7000 feet are stunning. There are plenty of spots where you can rest up or fire off some photos. You’ll be overwhelmed with Insta-opportunities on this ride.
This is not the most beginner-friendly route and can keep experienced riders on their toes. You should also be aware that there’s a high density of free-range cattle and deer in this area.
7) Conzelman Road, San Francisco
Are you heading to San Francisco this summer?
If so, riding those city streets is remarkably rewarding.
Just north of SF, head out to the Golden Gate National Recreational Area for an idyllic break from city life where you can ride horses or just relax and get ready for some sea breeze…
If you ride over the iconic Golden Gate Bridge – an experience in itself – take Conzelman Road and head west toward the coast. Surge along a meandering cliffside stretch of road and finish up at Point Bonita Lighthouse near the cove.
All you’ll need is twenty minutes to power along that twisting coastal highway and you’ll feel completely invigorated when you’re done.
8) The Snake to The Rock Store in Los Angeles
If you find yourself in the heart of LA, are you up for the challenge of The Snake?
This series of 21 back-to-back turns is found if you take Mullholland Highway, a stretch running from the valley to beyond Malibu.
You can find The Snake near The Rock Store, a classic biker-friendly eaterie. You might even run into supercar-loving Jay Leno, a regular at this hallowed hangout.
These tight and windy roads are not for amateurs. If you’re a more experienced rider and you’re looking for some serious action in the centre of LA, try your luck with The Snake.
9) Montezuma Valley Road near San Diego
For anyone in the vicinity of San Diego, try your luck with the Montezuma Valley Road. This is a staple for bikers from all over the world so why not join them?
This strip of road is around 75 miles outside San Diego to the northeast. You can slice your way right through the Montezuma Valley where you’ll encounter demanding and incredibly tight curves. Sweeping panoramic view from high above the desert floor are enough to make you want to stop constantly and snap up photograph after photograph.
Elevation dips over 3000 feet as you shoot down among the bighorn sheep. Ride with caution at all times.
If you want a biker-friendly bite, head to Carlee’s Place in Borrego Springs. Wolf down a succulent half-pounder and plan your next move.
The vast metal sculptures in the area are well worth checking out with a 350-foot snake making an arresting statement.
10) Big Sur Coastline from Monterey to San Luis Obispo
Next time you’re in Monterey and looking for a gentle route along the oceanside, why not head the 130 miles out to San Luis Obispo?
Fire up your bike and take Route 1 south out of Monterey. Stick the same road all the way to San Luis Obispo as you experience the starkness of this stretch of California coastline. You’ll pass cliffs drenched in fog, isolated beaches, and the vastness of the ocean for miles on end.
Bike in this area between November and February and you could be lucky enough to stumble across some elephant seals.
Final Thoughts on Motorcycle Rides in California
Don’t forget, you can rent motorbikes just as easily as cars so why not experiment on two wheels next time you’re in California? If you thought driving a convertible was exhilarating, wait until you try a big bike. You can find more locations in Los Angeles County here.