Pier to Pier IV: Seal Beach to Oceanside

In our fourth installment of the Pier to Pier series, we ride along the Southern California Coast, from Seal Beach Pier to Oceanside.

Continuing The Pier to Pier Series With Our Fourth Installment

Distance: 64 miles, Elevation Gain: 2,853′         

Google Map

Strava Route

In our fourth installment of the Pier to Pier series, we will be riding from Seal Beach Pier to Oceanside. Parts of this Pier to Pier route are featured in the New Years Day ride, Amtrak Century, and the MS 150. Pacific Coast Highway is very popular during the warmer times of the year so this guide will be focused on giving insight into avoiding some of the most heavily trafficked areas. Although, if you are traveling in a larger group it may be faster and safer to ride on PCH.

The Pitch

This is a flat point to point route with a few rolling hills south of Corona Del Mar. Many people will ride to Oceanside and take the train from Oceanside back up towards their starting point. This route is best done earlier in the morning to avoid a buildup of traffic on the Coast Hwy.


Mile 0-10 (Start – Seal Beach Pier)

Rolling out from Seal Beach Pier, Ocean Blvd will take you directly to PCH/Hwy 1 where you will catch a great view of the Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge as you cross over Anaheim Bay. Your first detour off PCH will be onto Pacific Ave at the landmark PCH Water Tower House. Follow this side street (1.4 miles) down to Warner where you will have the option of continuing on the Huntington Beach Bike Trail or PCH. I’ve ridden this section of PCH many times and there is a sizable shoulder with minimal obstacles. However, if you are taking your time and want to take in some ocean views then take the bike path.

Mile 10-15 (Newport Beach)

Stay on the Huntington Beach Bike Path (8.5 miles) until you reach the Santa Ana River Trail which features nearly 30 miles of uninterrupted bike path and connects all the way up to San Bernardino. After crossing over the Santa Ana River you’ll continue on PCH (1.6 miles) and encounter an overpass with a tricky right-hand turn lane. With patience, you can navigate this safely however if you want to avoid it all together there is a small side path available from there you can also avoid Mariners Mile which often has heavy traffic and very little shoulder space available. Another option would be to avoid all of this and ride down to Balboa Peninsula for a Balboa Ice Cream Bar and a ferry ride.

Mile 15-20 (Corona Del Mar/Crystal Cove)

Both options continue on Bayside Drive through Corona Del Mar to avoid tighter streets. Corona Del Mar does have a shared lane running through all of it but I always opt to take the side route. Once you meet back with PCH via Marguerite or Poppy the road starts to open back up with great views overlooking the ocean and Crystal Cove State Park. Most days you can see Catalina Island with ease and on a very clear day, you can see the details in the cliffs of Avalon 26 miles across the sea. If you have to make a stop try to include the Shake Shack which falls along this section of PCH.

Mile 20-30 (Laguna Beach)

After making your way past the rolling hills paralleling Crystal Cove, you’ll make your way down Cliff Drive and cut across the side streets of Laguna Beach. Glenneyre Street will take you past all of the great climbs nestled into the hillsides of Laguna Beach which are lovingly named “The Seven Sisters”: Park Ave, Temple Hills Drive, Bluebird Canyon, and Nyes (to name a few). When Glenneyre St ends at Nyes Place it will spit you out on PCH will continue on until Dana Point.

Mile 30-35 (Dana Point)

Just as you enter Dana Point you’ll side step onto Del Prado Ave and down Golden Lantern to the Harbor. As you turn into Doheny State Beach via Park Lantern there will be an option to ride the Coast Hwy Side Path which is basically just a sidewalk. I prefer to ride through the beach parking. Either route will meet up with the Coast Hwy Protected Trail which parallels PCH with a K-rail guard in between.

Mile 35-45 (San Clemente)

When you make your way to the edge of San Clemente the best option to navigate through the town is their existing bike route which will meander through the neighborhoods and drop you off at the south end of town at San Mateo Point. Hop on the bike path and you’ll skirt the entrance to the iconic surfing spot Trestles. From here you’ll be on the Old Pacific Highway through San Onofre, Agra, underneath I-5 and all the way down to the last major fork.

Mile 45-55 (Camp Pendleton)

The two options that are available to make the last stretch to Oceanside are to ride through USMC Camp Pendleton (9.4 miles) or ride the shoulder of I-5 (8 miles). Riding through Camp Pendleton will require you to fill out an online form to request access at least 1 week in advance. Even if you fill the form while you’re at the Camp, there is a chance that you cannot pass through if they are performing their military exercises. In that case, you can take Las Pulgas Road to the other side of the I-5.

Mile 55-64 (Finish – Oceanside Pier)

After navigating that last section, you’ll make your way along Oceanside Harbor, over Pacific Street, and straight on to Oceanside Pier. Here you will find a ton of breweries, coffee shops, and other good eats to reward yourself and when you’re done just ride over to the Oceanside Transit Center and catch a train back home.

Oceanside Beach. Photo: Dominik Lange

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