It’s easy today to find a great bike path pretty much anywhere you travel. Former rail trails are often converted into recreational paths. Today, there are hundreds of these rail trails, with at least one in nearly every state. Additionally, beach front paths, preserves, and parks provide further more opportunity for enjoying biking in a safe, car free setting. Biking is a great form of cardio exercise, yet easy enough to enjoy while on vacation.
While it’s easy to find a nice bike trail, it’s a bit harder to find one accompanied by great scenery. Even harder yet, is coming across one with outstanding mountain views. The trails featured below all offer tremendous mountain scenery. If you love nature, mountains, and fitness, the biking trails listed below are definitely for you.
1. Canada del Oro Riverfront Path
- Location: Oro Valley, Arizona (Free parking at 10901 N. Oracle Rd)
- Distance: 4 miles out-and-back
- Highlight: Incredible views of the Catalina Mountains
- Fuel up: Grab a cup of locally roasted coffee at Savaya, conveniently located in the vicinity. For something a bit different, try the Turkish coffee! Assorted pastries available.
This 4 mile paved trail is located in beautiful Oro Valley, a suburb of Tucson known for its’ magnificent mountain scenery. Four gorgeous mountain ranges surround this Sonoran desert city, including the most stunning of the bunch: The Santa Catalina mountains. The Canada del Oro riverfront trail is really amazing as these tremendous mountains are in perfect view. The path is reasonably flat and never overly crowded. This little known gem is definitely worth looking at if you love mountain scenery and uninterrupted biking.
What a view!
As an added bonus, Catalina State Park is located right across the street. You can easily bike over here if you are looking to explore some beautiful desert hiking. This park is incredible – one of Tucson’s best. Several miles of trails take you through the most awe inspiring mountain and cacti scenery you will ever witness. This is the best place to see tons of Saguaro cacti without paying the high entrance fee at Saguaro National Park.
2. Pa’Rus trail at Zion National Park
- Location: Springdale, Utah (Park at Zion Visitor Center)
- Distance: 1.7 miles out-and-back
- Highlight: Ongoing views of colorful rock formations
- Fuel up: Stop by Deep Creek Coffee company for an amazing mug of local coffee & light breakfast fare, accompanied by dazzling views of the rock formations.
The winner for most scenic bike trail within a national park definitely goes to the Pa’Rus trail at Zion National Park. First off, Zion is one of the country’s most enchanting parks – the scenery here is surreal. The massive colorful rock formations truly are a sight to behold. This park easily deserves a place high on your Western travel bucket list. Within Zion, lie miles and miles of picturesque trails, offering views of waterfalls, the tranquil Virgin river, and the incredible 200+ million year old rock formations. It’s no wonder the name Zion translates into “a place of peace” in Hebrew.
Tranquil views of The Virgin River
A great place to start your journey is the Pa’Rus trail, an easy 3 mile multi use path which is popular with bikers due to the flat terrain and incredible scenery. You will never come across a bike path where you get more bang-for-your-buck. Avid cyclists can continue on to the Zion Canyon scenic drive for an incredible road biking experience. With such stunning scenery, extending your ride is easy. The Pa’Rus trail conveniently starts at the visitor center.
3. The Strand bike Path
- Location: L.A. beaches, from Torrance to Pacific Palisades (park on the side streets near Torrance State Beach- check signs to avoid tow).
- Distance: 22 miles out-and-back
- Highlight: Easy access to top L.A. beachfront attractions
- Fuel up: Stop by Greendoor for a fabulous cup of coffee from Instelligsta, one of the country’s premier roasters.
One of L.A. best attractions is not found in Hollywood, nor theme parks, nor at a museum. While all of these above mentioned activities are must-dos while in town, there is only one place where you can get in a healthy workout, enjoy endless sunshine and beaches, and explore some of the top attractions, all in one place, with no need to drive. This is the 22 mile long Strand bike path. You have seen it featured in various TV shows and movies, now check it out for yourself.
Take a break and relax at the beach!
With a fresh breeze, picturesque coastal scenery, the incredible Santa Monica mountains, iconic attractions like the Venice boardwalk, and so much more, there is more than enough to do to justify a full day of fun-in-the-sun if you choose to do so. The path is mostly flat, and thus, easy enough for almost anyone. Because there are so many activities along the way, you can hop on and off your bike, recover and enjoy the scenery, and refuel before continuing on. If you are looking to keep it simple, the most scenic portion of the path runs about 3.5 miles from Santa Monica to Will Rogers beach.
4. Red Rock Canyon
- Location: Las Vegas, Nevada (1000 Scenic Loop Drive Las Vegas – Parking is $15 per car)
- Distance: 12.5 miles
- Highlight: Incredible vistas of colorful rock formations
- Fuel up: Any Vegas casino buffet will do! My favorites are The Bellagio and The Wynn for luxury/offerings, and The Mirage for affordability.
Who would have thought that the best thing to do in Vegas lies off the Strip? Red Rock Canyon is a must do for any adventure seekers, nature lovers, and fitness buffs looking for a great place to work out. Also, anyone who has been to Vegas a time or 2 and is looking for something new and interesting to do should plan a daytrip to one of the West’s best natural gems. The scenery here is surreal with colorful ancient rock formations that seem to just out against the clear desert blue sky for an amazing contrast.
Pure uninterrupted nature lies just 20 minutes west of The Strip!
The 12.5 mile scenic park loop is super popular with cyclists as it is the best place to enjoy a scenic bike ride in Vegas. Numerous overlooks and trails can be accessed along the way. This park can get busy so it’s best to visit early in the morning to avoid a bit of tourist traffic. Regardless, it’s the best option when you need a break from the commercialization, clutter and commotion of the Strip, if just for an hour or 2.
5. Buffalo Park nature loop
- Location: Flagstaff, Arizona (Free parking at 2400 N. Gemini Rd)
- Distance: 2 miles
- Highlight: Best view of Arizona’s highest mountain peak
- Fuel up: Stop by Late for the Train, Flagstaff’s best roaster for an amazing Americano and delicious breakfast burrito!
Flagstaff is a wonderful mountain community in Northern Arizona. For decades, Southern Arizona residents have been fleeing here to escape the intense summer desert heat. Not only does this town see 4 distinct seasons, but it also is home to the San Francisco Peaks, Arizona’s highest mountain range, located at 12,633 ft. There are so many incredible trails in this region, really it’s a must visit for hikers, bikers, photographers, and nature lovers alike. Take a look at this list of the best hikes in Flagstaff.
A prime view of the highest peaks in Arizona!
Summer is the best time to plan your visit as the high altitude climate means that rarely is there a day where the temp soars beyond 80. The mild weather means perfect conditions for any type of outdoor activity, and there are endless options to choose amongst. Dramatic views of The Peaks and Mt. Elden are viewable via an easy little 2 mile loop trail at Buffalo Park, one of the city’s top year-round recreational destinations. If you want to extend your ride, there are numerous options to connect to longer trails.
The trail is located on the top of McMillan Mesa, an ancient lava flow. And thus, this beautiful open space affords the best uninterrupted views of the mountains. Most other trails in the area are loaded with gorgeous pine or aspen scenery. This trail, on the other hand, offers different, yet equally as scenic wide open vistas of mountains.
6. Swan Lake trail
- Location: Greenville, South Carolina (Free parking at Furman – 3300 Poinsett Hwy – check the signs for public hours)
- Distance: 1.5 miles
- Highlight: Great views of Paris Mountain
- Fuel up: Enjoy a decadent crepe and cup of coffee from excellent NC based roaster Counter Culture at Tandem Creperie, a charming local cafe.
Beautiful Furman University has been rated as one of the country’s prettiest college campuses. Surrounding the prestigious private university is a gorgeous man made lake. A 1.5 mile trail follows the course of serene Swan Lake, and both students and guests are encouraged to partake in the beauty. Even better than the lake views is the picture-perfect Paris Mountain comprising the background. Paris Mountain State Park, offering miles of hiking trails and kayaking, is located just minutes away.
Extend your ride on the tree-lined Swamp Rabbit trail, Greenville’s favorite local & tourist activity.
From the Swan Lake trail you can easily connect to the Swamp Rabbit trail for a longer ride. Greenville’s premier trail is flat and easy and runs for 22 miles so you can get in nice long workout if you are up for it. There are numerous sights of interest along the way including beautiful award-winning Falls Park, home to various gardens, nature trails, and a gorgeous waterfall.
7. Continental Trail loop
- Location: Flagstaff, Arizona (Free parking at Forest Service Rd. 790)
- Distance: 2 miles
- Highlight: Scenic views of Mt. Elden & Mormon Mountain
- Fuel up: Stop by The Toasted Owl, an amazing local breakfast cafe serving the best breakfast tacos in town plus awesome coffee!
The Continental loop is an easy 2 mile loop trail located within the 11 mile Campbell Mesa trail system in Flagstaff. This is a great place for beginning mountain biking due to the mostly flat terrain. The views are terrific and the trails are usually super quiet as tourists head to the more popular Snowbowl hikes. Summer is the most beautiful time to plan your ride as colorful wildflowers dominate the view.
All of the loops within this trail system connect to each others, so you could go the whole 11 miles if you are up for a challenge. The pretty ponderosa pine scenery, fresh air, and motivating mountain scenery may just push you to do just that! Bonus: Wildlife sightings are common!
8. Scottsdale Greenbelt
- Location: Scottsdale, Arizona (See map for parking info). Try to find parking at a park near Lakeview Coffee (8300 N. Hayden)
- Highlight: Mountain, lake, desert, & tropical scenery all rolled into one!
- Fuel up: Enjoy the best breakfast and coffee in town at Scramble, a wonderful local breakfast joint.
While the Phoenix metro area is well-known for its’ gorgeous mountain and cacti scenery, many are unaware that there are an abundance of man man lakes and ponds in the region. One of the best places to enjoy a little bit of it all is the Indian Bend bike path.
Lakes, palms, mountains, lush greenery…this trail has it all!
The Indian Bend wash greenbelt is 11 miles long and as scenic as can be. Along the way you will pass by golf courses, parks, and lakes. A diverse mix of greenery will make you forget that you are riding in the middle of a barren desert. If you are seeking an easy bike ride with scenic views in the Phoenix metro, nothing tops this beautiful paved path. While the various hiking areas may offer better views of the mountains, this path offers an amazing mix of lush greenery plus mountain & lake scenery.