Mission Bay is one of San Diego’s great playgrounds. Along with about 2,000 acres of water, there are 27 miles of shorelines, 18 of which are sandy beaches. There are also many bike paths appropriate for all ages. We love to do the 12-mile Mission Bay Bike Loop.
Because this is a loop you can start at any part of the trail. We like to start at Crown Point because there is plenty of parking. However, many visitors may need to rent a bike. If this is the case, we suggest parking at Belmont Park and renting a bike. There are several places to rent from, but we recommend Mission Beach Rentals @ Belmont.
I will admit this is the only place we have rented from, but our experience was very positive. During a ride our son’s tire blew out half-way through and so we stopped here to rent a bike. They offered to repair our bike for free so we didn’t have to get a rental. However, I went ahead and rented a bike because I realized my son had outgrown his 20” bike. It was only $7 an hour and they really went out of their way to provide great service when they were only getting $7 from us.
Overall, this is a very easy trail to follow. There are only a few slightly confusing areas. Most of the 12-mile loop is on a dedicated bike path. There is one section where you need to go over a bridge and the bike path is on the street. There is also a brief section where you ride on the road right before Crown Point (at the end of our route).
Starting from Crown Point, you will head south to go under the bridge at the tip of the point. The path then turns back towards the north as Crown Point is a small peninsula that juts into the bay. You will ride along the north shore of the bay until you come to the Catamaran Resort.
The resort often has a lot of activity going on and it is a possible stop to check out the gardens and tropical birds they have. Of course, there are also several dining options at the Catamaran and all along this route.
From the Catamaran the trail heads south along Mission Beach. Mission Beach is basically a two-mile-long sandbar that at the most is about 4 blocks wide with the Pacific Ocean on one side and Mission Beach on the other. This route goes along the Mission Bay side. If you want to do the Pacific Ocean side we have a shorter 8-mile loop that takes you back up along the beachfront boardwalk.
When you come to a stoplight at W. Mission Bay Dr you will need to cross the street. To your left is the Bahia Resort and on your right, you will see Belmont Park with its iconic roller coaster.
At this point, you are simply going to cross at the traffic light and cross through the parking lot. The trail picks up in the back of the parking lot. It heads left parallel to Mission Bay Dr.
The park ends at a bridge where the San Diego River comes into the bay. At this point, you need to ride on Mission Bay Dr. to cross the bridge. There is a wide bike path, but if you feel this is unsafe you can always ride on the sidewalk.
At the bottom of the bridge, you come to an intersection at Quivira. You will see Sportsmen’s Seafood which advertises the best Fish and Chips in San Diego. I think this place was started by the famed Italian Busalacchi family of restaurateurs. My son is a big fan and I can always get him to go on this bike ride if I promise to stop here.
I am not sure it is part of the official route, but we like to ride a short distance along the water in front of Sportsmen’s Seafood. This ends in the parking lot of Marina Village Conference Center. From here you need to ride a couple hundred yards along Quivara until you come to the bridge at Sea World Dr. Quivira is a wide street with very little traffic.
The bike path actually goes up to the bridge. You then turn right on a path to go down and then under the bridge. At this point, you will be riding the bike path along the San Diego River.
When you come to a traffic light at South Shores Parkway you will go left and cross Sea World Dr. You will then follow the bike path left for a short distance towards Sea World. This can be confusing because you are going back the way you came.
Right before a large parking lot, the bike path then turns right towards Mission Bay. When you get to the Bay you continue to your right. This takes you past an area where clubs fly model airplanes.
The trail follows along the bay and starts to head north as you cross the entrance to Fiesta Island. You will continue past several parks and playgrounds. You will also cross the grounds of the Hilton resort.
When you get to the far northeast corner of the bay, the bike path turns left into De Anza Cove Park. The path ends at a cul-de-sac by the Mission Bay RV resort. From the cul-de-sac at De Anza Rd, you want to head a short distance north along De Anza Rd until you reach N. Mission Bay Dr.
Turning left on N. Mission Bay Dr. will once again put you on a street. However, this is an uncrowded dead-end street used only to access the Mission Bay Golf Course. At the end of the street, you will come to the pedestrian/bike only Mike Gotch Memorial Bridge.
The short bridge will put you on Pacific Beach Dr. At this point you are almost done, but the remaining distance is done on the road. Ride along the road a short distance to Crown Point Dr where you will turn left.
It can be confusing because there are also signs pointing you to the Pacific Beach Bike Path. You do NOT want to follow those. That is a separate bike path. Instead turn left on Crown Point Dr. by the Kendall-Frost Marsh Reserve.
The short distance along Crown Point Dr. is a fairly narrow street. If you are uncomfortable riding on the road you can use the sidewalk. When you come to Corona Oriente Rd you will turn left. A short distance you will see the downhill entrance to Crown Point parking lot where you started.
Overall, this is a classic San Diego bike ride. Our kids have been doing this since they were 8-years old without complaint. The only part of the route that is not flat is when you cross the bridge at Mission Bay Dr.
If you want a shorter ride that also incorporates the beach boardwalk we suggest this 8-mile Mission Bay/Beach Bike Route.