San Luis Obispo is considered a mountain biking and road biking paradise, which is why one of the best road-cycling teams in the world —Team HTC-Highroad—trains in San Luis Obispo, and national races like the Jeep, King of the Mountain Race and the AMGEN Tour of California have been held in the city and county. But you don’t need to be a pro to enjoy some time on two wheels –in fact, annual events like the SLO GranFondo boast participation by professionals and amateurs alike.
Watch the video to see SLO’s warm, beautiful wine country and unique shopping venues to stop at on your next vacation.
Take your spinning class outdoors, start training for the next triathlon or tour, or just get some exercise and fresh air in SLO’s prime cycling terrain. Whether you’re looking for a relaxed family outing or something a bit more challenging, find local tips about San Luis Obispo’s popular road biking routes, mountain biking trails, and beginners’ cycling rides, plus annual cycling events, below.
Urban Paths & Biking Community
Headed up by such organizations as the SLO County Bike Coalition, the lively cycling and bike-commuting community in San Luis Obispo can be seen in several local events like the annual May Bicycle Month and the monthly “Bike Happening,” when hundreds of cheery, costumed cyclists circle the two parallel main streets of downtown, following the first Thursday evening Farmer’s Market of each month. Be sure to use the free bike valet service offered at every Farmer’s Market and other local events.
Visitors to San Luis Obispo can also enjoy bike-friendly city routes such as Madonna Inn’s new connecting path into the heart of downtown; the Bill Roalman Bike Boulevard (a street that discourages vehicle traffic to give preference to urban cyclists); and the Railroad Bicycle Trail (a flat, traffic-free route from Cal Poly University to downtown to the southern city limit). San Luis Obispo also has exciting routes in development, such as the popular Bob Jones City to Sea Trail, which will eventually connect downtown San Luis Obispo with the family-friendly, creek side, paved pathway that leads to Avila Beach.
In a city surrounded by green rolling hills and vineyards, and minutes from pristine beaches, scenic recreational rides abound. The San Luis Obispo Cycling Club offers detailed information on many popular road biking routes—from 10 mile circuits to more challenging 50-mile rides, such as these:
City to the Sea - Transition from city streets to scenic country roads and coastal highways in this roughly 68-mile ride from the Mission to Pismo Beach, Avila Beach, Los Osos, Morro Bay and back.
Cirque du SLO – A 17-mile generally flat loop from Sinsheimer Park through the railroad district, Cal Poly neighborhoods and scenic foothills.
Historical Biking Tour – Tour 15 historical sites in San Luis Obispo, including Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa (1772), Ah Louis Store (1866), Old Carnagie Library (1894), Old Mission Cemetery (note William Dana 1858), and the Octogon Barn (100+ years old).
Tour de Open Spaces – A 23-mile route featuring open space and public bike trails along Terrace Hill Open Space, Railroad Trail, South Hills Open Space, Laguna Open Space, and Ferrini Open Space.
Short but Sweet – This nearly 15-mile route runs through Edna Valley wine country, from French Park to Orcutt Road to Tiffany Ranch to South Broad (Hwy 227), back into town.
San Luis Obispo Mountain Biking Trails
The picturesque foothills that encircle San Luis Obispo provide endless opportunities for challenging and rewarding mountain biking rides. Grab your fat tire and explore these MountainBikeSanLuisObispo.com suggested rides. Find more mountain biking insight and maps at Central Coast Concerned Mountain Bikers.
Cerro San Luis, “Madonna Mountain” - Cerro San Luis offers both fire road and single track routes, starting just off of the Marsh Road exit to highway 101 leaving downtown.
Johnson Ranch – A new trail in San Luis Obispo, the 2.3-mile outer loop starting at the dirt lot where South Higuera turns into Ontario Road, is a great trail for beginning single track riders.
Poly Canyon – An 8-mile loop starting at the upper parking lot at Cal Poly, through fire roads, across the railroad tracks and back downhill on Shooters.
Annual San Luis Obispo Cycling Events
- Wildflower Century – April
- Wildflower Triathlon – April
- AMGEN Tour of California - May
- Central Coast Double – May
- Great Western Bicycle Rally – May
- Country Coast Classic Bike Ride – June
- Annual SLO Triathlon – July
- The Best Buddies Challenge: Hearst Castle – September
- Lighthouse Century – September
- AMGEN California Coast Classic Bicycle Tour – September
- Wine and Roses Bike Race – October
- SLO GranFondo – October