“Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride.” ~John F. Kennedy

Great Bike Trails in Ventura County

You’ve dusted off the bikes, pumped up the tires and are ready for an adventure.  Not sure where to go in our beautiful Ventura County?  Here are a few of my favorites for beginner mountain biking rides.  If you family likes to bike, you are sure to enjoy one of these bike trails in Ventura County. 

Beginner – Ojai Valley Trail

This great beginner trail is mostly paved, well-maintained out and back. It  travels along the Ventura River to Ojai Valley.  We have fond memories of doing this trail with our kids riding in the tow-behind Burley trailer. This adventure makes for a nice day of biking and can accommodate most  types of bikes. If you start early and plan to ride the whole trail, there’s a breakfast place as you roll into town called Home Kitchen of Ojai.  

Where to Park: Foster Park, $2.00 per vehicle weekday; $5.00 per vehicle weekend/holiday.  

Distance: 9.3 out and back, or turn around anywhere along the trail to shorten

Bathrooms: At the start of trail

Highlight: Breakfast half way through the ride, river views

Kid friendly: Yes, but with a few road crossings. Obey all traffic laws.

Beginner/Intermediate – Big Sycamore Canyon Fire Road

Bring on the dirt! This is a great introduction to mountain biking in Ventura County.  This is a gravel road that cuts through Point Mugu State Park in the Santa Monica Mountains.  Most bikes will do well on this trail, but I would recommend something with off-road tires.  You begin and end by cutting through Sycamore Canyon Campground and There are a couple of stopping points, including a bench and portable bathroom approximately 2 miles up the road.  It’s all downhill on the way back to the beach! 

Where to Park: Sycamore Canyon Campground Day Use area, $12 full day, $9 for 3 hrs, $3 for 1 hr 

Distance: Choose your own adventure, turn around when you are ready, but if you are up for an adventure, it’s about a 15-mile round trip ride. Many beginners turn around at the bridge where the road climbs steeply out of the canyon to Newbury Park.

Bathrooms: At the start of the trail, one portable bathroom on the trail

Highlight: Mountains and beach all in one adventure, plus wildlife sightings

Kid friendly: Yes, but be prepared with lots of snacks and water

Warnings: Morning and evening rides reduce your chance of meeting a rattlesnake


Intermediate – Hill Canyon Trail plus Hawk Canyon

Hill Canyon trail with the Hawk Canyon add-on is my personal favorite for folks ready to try out some fun, flowy singletrack. The beginning of the trail is fairly flat. As you make your way into Hawk Canyon, you’ll see a picnic table to your right which is a great place for a picture and a snack break with kids.  One section of trail is a bit washed out and may require walking for newer riders. Watch downhill speed and watch for hikers on the trail.

Where to Park: Santa Rosa County Park FREE, dirt lot or overflow paved lot

Distance: About 4 miles round trip, with singletrack trails

Bathrooms: Near paved lot at the start of the ride

Highlight: Take a quick detour to the creek and see the ducks

Kid friendly: Yes, but must have experience riding on dirt trails

Warnings: Morning and evening rides reduce your chance of meeting a rattlesnake

A Little Help From Technology

I highly recommend downloading a trail guide app like Trailforks or AllTrails.  These apps have great trail reviews and directions to trailheads.  A fun social media fitness app called Strava is a fun way to learn new trails and challenge yourself with your fitness.

Trail Courtesy

When it comes to sharing our beautiful trails, remember that cyclists yield to hikers and equestrians.  It’s common courtesy when riding on singletrack trails to pull over and allow hikers to pass.  Also, when encountering other cyclists, the riders that are going uphill have the right of way.  Most equestrians that I have encountered are very kind and will sometimes wave me through.  These basic trail courtesies allow for everyone to enjoy the trails safely!

Take a Bike Lesson

Mountain biking has really grown as a  recreational and professional sport in recent years.  Ventura County (plus LA and SB Counties) offer hundreds of trails for all levels.  Our local bike shops can barely keep up with the demand of people wanting to get out on the trails.  If you are new to the sport, you may consider taking a lesson to familiarize yourself with the basics of mountain biking.

Enjoy the Ride

I hope one of these bike trails in Ventura County encourages you and your family to get outside and enjoy the ride!

*RELATED TOPIC – “Playing Outside – It’s Good for Your Health”

Bike Trails in Ventura County

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Sara is a native of Arizona, but after 20 years of living in Southern California she and her family proudly call Ventura County home. Living in the pines of Northern Arizona for many years, Sara developed a passion for fitness and the outdoors. She shares this love with her husband of 20 years, Jarod. With a Masters Degree in Exercise Physiology, Sara is also passionate about creating a healthy lifestyle including a healthy mind, body and spirit. What started 14 years ago as a whole family health transformation due to her son's food allergies, has blossomed into a career of helping others. As a Health Coach, she has worn many hats to help others achieve their goals, from leading running groups, teaching fitness classes and working one-on-one with individuals. She and Jarod now have three children, ages 16, 14 (the boys) and 11 (her girl). They are all very outdoorsy, and can be found camping, hiking, biking, snowboarding, surfing and spending time in their backyard. Her best day consists of hiking or biking in the Santa Monica Mountains, spending time with her family, including her little fluffy dog, Roxy. A fun fact about Sara: her sport growing up was Synchronized Swimming!


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