Mike in Long Beach 2010

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Biking from Seal Beach to Huntington Beach
A fabulous bike ride on eight miles of scenic beach south of town.

May 30, 2010
Biking to Huntington Beach

It's Memorial day weekend and I thought I'd do something fun for a change. The first two months have been nothing but house hunting and working overtime, and I haven't even been on my bike yet. The weather has been calling for 90's this weekend so that can only mean one thing - a bike ride on the beach. The stretch of road between Seal Beach and Huntington Beach is remarkably scenic, with a wildlife preserve on the left, miles of sandy beach on the right, small town scenery at both ends, and half naked girls by the thousands.

So I stuffed my bike in the car and drove a few miles to Seal Beach, then pulled out the bike and blasted out of town on the Pacific Coast Highway. The highway has a wide bike lane with a shocking number of bikers - I've never seen this many bikes even in Portland or Colorado, and it's like this every weekend. This first part of the bike lane is on the highway but once I'm past Sunset Beach I veer onto the pathway that's paved along the edge of the beach and continues south for at least a dozen miles (I'm only going 8). That's where the scenery is, so that's where I'm going.

This remote stretch of beach is backed by the Bolsa Chica wetlands with no sign of development in sight. It's just pristine beach bordered by the longest parking lot in America - a 2.3 mile string of cars and RV's right on the bike path. But it's still a great ride along a scenic stretch of coastline. The smell of barbeques fill the air as two miles of RV campers fire up lunch in their shady gardens, while tourists by the thousands crowd the beach with their umbrellas and awnings as far as the eye can see. Unlike most rides, I'm dressed like a beach bum for this one, sandals, swim trunks and baseball cap. I'll be mingling with the locals on the beach so I want to fit in.

As the path approaches Huntington the beach gets rockier. The beachfront park is a grassy strip on a bluff over a boulder choked beach. Occasional patches of sand give the tourists plenty of space for their towels and grills but the rocks make this section too dangerous for swimming. This is the dog beach, the only section along this part of the coast where dogs can roam free. The place is loaded with them and they're all happy as can be, chasing each other into the surf and fighting for frisbees.

Past the bluff the path drops back down to the huge beach at Huntington. This has been nonstop beach since Sunset Beach and it continues past Huntington as far as I can see. It looks to be about 150 yards wide, and is packed with a huge number of people in every direction. Towels, umbrellas and sunburnt bodies are everywhere as kids splash in the cold water and dozens of surfers try their luck in the small patch surf near the shore.

The area around the pier and bike path is a bee hive of activity. The pathway is twenty feet wide through here and choked with bikes, strollers, skaters, hikers and joggers wondering aimlessly in every direction. Uphill of the path are a dozen street vendors in their tents selling the usual tourist trinkets. Downhill of the path are a dozen volleyball courts that look too much like suffering in the heat to me.

After some lunch at Dairy Queen, I took a walk out on the pier to get a bird's eye view of the beach. It's a mob scene at the start of the pier where the hords on the pier cross the hords on the street. This is a great place to see what's going on. Most of the traffic is hanging over the rail checking out the sunbathers that litter the beach by the thousands. A little farther out kids are testing the cold water in the shallow surf but they're only a fraction of population - most are here for the sun not the cold water. And still farther out are the surfers, and every one of them is dressed in a black wetsuit. The surfable waves are only a small band but dozens of them wait patiently on their boards for a big one to come by, but when it does most of them miss it.

Back on shore, the town of Huntington is a swarm of humanity. It's not that big of a town but near the pier it's choked with cars, bikes, and tourists. The streets are a solid wall of traffic and every parking space was filled long ago. The Pacific Coast Highway is mostly hotels and apartments but the side streets are your typical pedestrian malls with restaurants and gift shops galore. It's a fun place to hang out for a while but I'm on a mission - I forgot my sunscreen and I've already been out for two hours. So I aim my bike back toward the pathway and head back home at a good leisurly pace - there's way to many bikinis on this path to be in a hurry.


Long Beach Index

Questions and comments to Mike

A crazy looking bike ramp, I think it's more art than functional.

Beach volleyball at Huntington, viewed from the pier.

The hords on the beach, viewed from the pier. This mob goes on for miles in both directions.

Huntington Beach looking south from the pier.

The tree-lined bike path in the town of Huntington.

The beach and bike path north of Huntington.

Girls on rocks with an oil platform in the distance. There are a lot of these off the coast.

Click these thumbnails to popup the big pictures

This Crane is at the Navy Station between Seal Beach and Sunset Beach. Note the plane towing the giant banner, there was a steady stream of them.

It looks like someone remodeled this water tower into an apartment.

The north end of Huntington Beach , I walked into the water and it seemed too cold for swimming if you ask me.

A little farther along, I found these fishermen near the jetty at the south end of the state beach. This is the state beach with the wildlife area across the road.

The scenic bike path between the state beach and Huntington.

One of the locals, yaking it up on the cellphone.

The amphitheter area of Huntington, I'm standing under the pier, the beach is to the left.

I don't know if this old lady is wrapped up from the cold or the sun.

Little girl riding the surf on her boogie board.

Girl splashing in the surf. Only a small fraction were actually braving the cold water.

I was shooting pictures of surfers from the pier and this old guy seemd to be the best.

A couple of girls sacked out on the beach.

Little girl in a bike seat. Looks like more fun than sitting in the back.

Panorama of Huntington Pier. This looks longer than the Long Beach Pier but not the Seal Beach Pier.

Panorama of the Anaheim Bay Wildlife Refuge at Seal Beach.

Map of this part of the coast.