Location: Oceanside (38 Miles / 40 Minutes North of Downtown San Diego)
Open Daily: Dawn to Dusk
Cost: Free, Including Bike Rentals
Features: Hike and Bike a 14.4-Mile Round-Trip Trail Along a Riverbed Starting Near the Oceanside Pier
San Luis Rey Trail Highlights: The San Luis Rey is a small river that runs east-west through the northern part of Oceanside. The City Parks and Recreation Department has taken advantage of the sliver of wildlife surrounding the river, which is dry during some parts of the year, to create a 7.2-mile (one-way) dedicated path for cycling and hiking.
What to Expect
The San Luis Rey Trail is a smoothly paved, relatively flat trail. There are a few places along the way where the trail dips down below a roadway so you must peddle or hike up a slight incline on the other side.
Other than on weekends, it is a lightly used trail. Despite passing near the back sides of businesses and homes, the trail does provide a sense of seclusion where it is just you, the 500+ foot wide river bed, and wildlife. Near the Benet Road and Foussat Road trail access points, the open space opens up to the north, providing more expansive views of rolling hills without any development. Those looking for more adventure and exercise can exit the trail at one of these two access points and hike / bike on the hilly roads to the north.
Trail users are allowed to bring their leashed dogs.
Bike Rentals – If you are visiting from 8AM – 4PM from Monday through Thursday, register to sign-out a Dasani Blue Bike for Free. At the corner of Mission Avenue and North Coast Highway, you can register with the City of Oceanside to check out TREK cruisers, which are available at a nearby location for use on the San Luis Rey Bike Trail and along the Oceanside Strand. Riders must be at least 13 years of age and those under 18 must be accompanied by a parent.
Food – There are several restaurants along Pier View Way and Mission Avenue, which are a half-mile south of the San Luis Bike Trail entrance on Neptune Way. You will find a few additional restaurants as you head towards Mission Avenue. Consider getting take-out and walk two blocks down Mission Avenue to the beach. At the beach, you will also find a McDonald’s underneath the Oceanside Pier and a Ruby’s Diner sitting out over the ocean at the end of the Pier. (Note that the Pier is nearly 4/10ths of a mile long.) Otherwise, there are limited offerings once you reach the beach.
Along the trail, you will not find relatively close food options until you reach the end of the trail at College Boulevard. When you reach College Boulevard, head south about a half-mile to reach a shopping plaza with restaurants.
Information on Using the San Luis Rey Trail
San Luis Rey Trail web site – Get details on the trail access points and safety information from the City of Oceanside.
Directions from Google Maps to the corner of Neptune Way and Sea Cottage Way in Oceanside, CA 92054.
Traffic – Other than summer weekends, getting to the start of the bike trail in downtown Oceanside is relatively easy. If you encounter heavy traffic heading to the beach on Mission Avenue turn on one of the side streets that take you north towards the trail. Those driving south on highway I-5, will only be a few blocks away when they exit to visit the California Welcome Center. (Learn more about getting San Diego traffic updates.)
Parking – There is free street parking near the start of the bike trail.
Transit – The San Luis Rey Trail starts about a mile north of the Oceanside Transit Center. (It is a flat walk through downtown Oceanside between these two points.) See San Diego Transit Information for details about the Oceanside Transit Center, which is served by AMTRAK, Coaster, and Metrolink trains.
Nearby Attractions: Find more things to do in Oceanside, CA . You can walk out on the largest wooden pier on the West Coast, explore the California Surf Museum, take surfing lessons, enjoy an ocean sailing tour, bike along a nature trail, and see history at California’s largest Mission.