MONTEREY — Even though I write about hiking, I have to admit that walking is a pedestrian activity. OK, couldn’t resist the pun, but I am leading to something. Besides many great places to walk and hike, the Monterey Bay area has some great places to bike. One of my favorites is the bike path along Sand City, Monterey and Pacific Grove. While there are many places to park and go, depending on how long a ride you want, I’ll outline one my favorites.
The Best Western Plus Beach Resort Monterey sits on the sand at the end of Canyon Del Rey Boulevard. There is public beach parking both south and north of the hotel. Unload the bike and then decide on which branch of the Monterey Peninsula Recreational Trail to start on. From the south parking lot, the paved trail climbs to the top of the dunes before dropping again and running along Del Monte Boulevard. If you’d rather not deal with a hill, carefully take Canyon Del Rey, crossing the on and off ramps of Highway One and ride along Roberts Lake. Both branches meet up just north of Casa Verde Ave.
Now you are on a flat stretch, with the afternoon ocean breeze the only impediment. This excellent trail runs across Del Monte from the Naval Post Graduate School, beneath the dunes and to the municipal beach. At that point, you glide past Monterey Bay Kayaks, keeping an eye open for kayak crossings, and then you’re in the Fisherman’s Wharf area.
If it’s morning, there’s a small restaurant on Wharf 2, the commercial wharf, that has a great breakfast. If it’s lunch, the next wharf is Fishermen’s Wharf, with a half dozen good seafood places.
Back on the trail, you are now passing Fisherman’s Shoreline Park. Stop for a minute to watch the seals on the rocks and the otters that are often lounging in the water before continuing to Breakwater Cove, another place to stop. Ride down the hill to the parking area and walk out on the jetty to watch the congregating colony of sea lions before getting back on the bike.
The trail now runs just above Cannery Row, and along the trail there are small eating establishments and a pleasant little coffee shop. Soon, you’re riding through the heart of the “Row,” past bike and kayak rental places, candy stores, a brew pub, Imax theater and finally the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
After you pass the aquarium, look to the left for Archie’s American Diner, just in case you’ve worked up an appetite and could use a good sandwich. Just past Archie’s is American Tin Cannery for the lover of outlet stores. Then you are along the breathtaking Pacific Grove shoreline, particularly lovely in the spring when the pink ice plant is in bloom.
The designated trail ends at Lover’s Point park, which happens to have a snack bar and restroom. From there on, you ride on the street, but if you continue to Point Pinos, you’ll find a bike lane which will take you all the way to Asilomar State Beach, where you’ll want to stop and enjoy the pounding surf.
For the hard core, you can continue on to the 17 Mile Drive, all the way to Carmel, but now you’ve committed to a full day of peddling. However, if you don’t want to go back the way you came, turn left on Asilomar Avenue, past Asilomar Conference Grounds and behind the dunes. This will take you back to the Point Pinos area or to Lighthouse Avenue, in case you want another uphill climb. Lighthouse takes you to downtown Pacific Grove and several good places to eat.
For a change of pace, once back to the Aquarium, drop down to Cannery Row and ride carefully through traffic. There are some excellent art galleries, watering holes and candy stores to give you an excuse to get off the bike. From there, you have the wind at your back and your car only 20 minutes ahead.