Velo Ventura: The 5 Best Cycling and Mountain Biking Trails in the Heart of the Central Coast

Explore some of the finest cycling and mountain biking in the Ventura and the Los Padres National Forest.

While more widely known as the gateway to the Channel Islands National Park and home to some of the finest surfing on the Central Coast, Ventura, CA has quickly become a popular destination for its ever-increasing network of cycling and mountain biking trails. Its profile is only going to increase by hosting the second stage of the 2018 Amgen Tour of California which is happening right now.

So grab your bike(s) and your Velo Ventura Gear Kit, check-in to the Four Points Sheraton in the Ventura Harbor and get ready to enjoy some of the best cycling and mountain biking loops in Ventura and the surrounding county. Not to mention, you'll have the chane to indulge in some of the best ways to refuel before, during, and after a long ride.

1. Bike the Ventura River and Ojai Bike Trails


Perhaps the most iconic and well known of the Ventura trails, the Ventura River and Ojai Bike Trails are a fantastic combination of exposed and un-canopy off-road (but paved) cycling trails that go from the Ventura seaside park to downtown Ojai.

As a matter of course, any pre-ride ritual beginning in Ventura has to start at Stoked Coffee in the El Jardin Courtyard, a fantastic coffee shop serving acaí bowls and avocado toast to fuel your ride. 


2. Bike the Sulphur Mountain Loop


The Los Padres National Forest is a national treasure, full of hiking, backpacking, and of course, excellent mountain biking trails featuring fantastic views over Ventura, the Pacific Ocean, and the Ojai Valley. The Sulphur Mountain Loop goes up and over the heart of the Los Padres beginning in Ventura Canyon near Casitas passing through the town of Ojai before heading back to the trailhead.

For a great mid-ride break, stop at The Nest in Ojai to refuel. The cauliflower tacos are on point.


3. Bike the Rincon Trail

Highway 1 / The Pacific Coast Highway between Ventura and Santa Barbara is some of the most beautiful coastline in Central California and in addition to having convenient beachfront car / RV camping, it also has wide bike lanes running in both directions.


Before (or after) your ride, you can get all your repair and parts needs met at the Ventura Bike Depot, conveniently located right in downtown Ventura and just a couple of blocks from the start of several trails.


4. Bike the Lake Casitas Loop


Beginning in Ventura, the Lake Casitas Loops heads through Ventura Canyon before looping around the north shore of Lake Casitas and up over Casitas Pass. From here you are rewarded with an impressive, 2,000+ ft. downhill to the ocean.


For carb loading and vino unlike anywhere else in Ventura, be sure to checkout Cafe Fiore, with live music on most nights.


5. Bike the Ventura, Santa Paula, and Ojai Loop

The classic loop through Ventura and Ventura County, including Ojai and Santa Paul, is a half-century long ride featuring almost all of the ecological and topographical wonder that Ventura County has to offer. 


From grueling uphills to thrilling downhills, and in particular bombing through Santa Paula creek canyon, this loop has everything.


Finally, no trip to Ventura is complete without a victory stop at the VenTiki Lounge and Lanai.


And if that's not enough, last call is at Last Call at the Saloon Ventura.

Published: May 15, 2018

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