Biking in San Joaquin: A beginner’s guide to SJ Trails

 

By Nora Heston Tarte

How should you explore the San Joaquin Valley? Why not by bike? From views of the expansive waterways, to trails through the jungle-esque parks, there are plenty of places to visit within riding distance—and you don’t have to be an expert to get around. The flat terrain, easy trails, and bike events cater to amateurs in the Valley just as much as professionals. If you’re a novice, this is the place to start. Learn about accessible trails suitable for your skill level, attend family-friendly events, take two wheels through wine country, and more. From gear to grub, bike types to trailheads, here’s your beginner’s guide to biking in San Joaquin.

There’s no shortage of trails in San Joaquin County. Check out a smattering of local routes to fit your lifestyle. From short, paved family rides to longer excursions out of town, get to know the bike trails in your backyard.

Lodi:

Cosumnes River Preserve with Blossom Road Loop | 36.4 mi.

The Consumnes River Preserve is a gorgeous wetland tucked off of Interstate 5 between Lodi and Elk Grove. The enormous wildlife preserve is home to more than 250 bird species, which makes this trail from Lodi a perfect trek for birdwatchers. Bring your binoculars along for the ride, which features elevations of +166/-164 ft. On the way, stop off at the Consumnes River Farm (28305 N. Thornton Rd.) for vinegar, olive oil, and wine tasting. A 2.5-mile, moderately trafficked loop at the preserve near Galt is kid-, stroller- and wheelchair-friendly with a nine-foot incline and views of the lake.

Directions: Route begins at Pine and Sacramento streets.
Lodi Lake Family Fun Ride | 5 mi.

EDITOR’S PICK: An easy ride and paved trail, this five-mile adventure is perfect for a family excursion. Begin or end your day at World of Wonders Science Museum, stop at the lake for family activities (kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, pedal boats, playgrounds, and more), and enjoy Lodi Lake and the Molekumne River. The trail is mostly flat with an elevation of +17/-17 ft.

Directions: Start at Pine and Sacramento streets. Turn right on North Sacramento Street. Turn left on West Elm Street. Turn right onto North Mills Avenue. Cross Turner Road. Take paved bike path along west side of Lodi Lake.
Delta River Ride to Sacramento with Return by Train | 53 mi.

This ride may not be for the faint of heart. Its total elevation is only +420/-436 ft., but it’s also a 53-mile trek, one way (with a train ride to take you back from Sacramento to Lodi). The historic route around the Delta is rich with history, but don’t get caught up in your surroundings. It’s important to make it to the train stop in time to catch a ride back – or your 53-mile ride will turn into a 106-mile ride.

Directions: Route begins at Pine and Sacramento streets.
Lodi Airport Cafe with Winery Stops | 25.7 mi.

This 26-mile route along country roads allows for plenty of stops at local wineries as well as a chance to watch planes take off at the Lodi Airport Café (23987 CA-99, Acampo). Make a day of it by leaving early (and getting to the café before it closes at 2 p.m.). The total elevation is a miniscule +128/-127 ft. making it acceptable for amateur riders. Heritage Oak Winery and Durst Winery are convenient stops along the way.

Directions: Route begins at Pine and Sacramento streets.
Ride Country Roads Linking Lodi, Galt, Thornton, and Woodbridge with Food Stops | 40 mi.

It’s important to stay alert on this 40-mile traverse bordering vineyards and ranch lands; most of the roads don’t have a shoulder, which means bike safety is a big deal (and young riders won’t fare well here). Take a quick loop in Galt to do some wine tasting and grab lunch. Convenient locations include Barsetti Vineyards, The Velvert Creamery, Spaan Cookie Company, Panaderia Primo’s Bakery, and Woodbridge Uncorked. The total elevation is +213/-213 ft.

Directions: Route begins at Pine and Sacramento streets.

 

Ride Lodi

Downtown Bicycles in Lodi is dedicated to getting residents riding! In addition to its status as a full-service bicycle shop specializing in repairs, tune-ups, and sales for everyone from high-end road riders to little kids, the business previously known as Bikes & Bites is partnering with Lodi organizations and businesses (such as Visit Lodi, San Joaquin Bike Coalition, and the Lodi Bike Summit) to propel the ride culture in San Joaquin County.

A partnership with Headwaters Kayak Shop offers social events that combine bike rides with kayaking at Lodi Lake. For example, residents and visitors can participate in a “Pedal, Paddle, Pizza Ride,” where riders go from land to water to pizza, for a flat fee. Head to the shop to sign-up!

Perhaps the biggest change, however, is the addition of bike rental services. “People who fly in from out of town can get a good quality bike,” says Kenny Dovak (who owns Downtown Bicycles with his wife Ashley Dovak) of their quality road bike selection. Not to mention, the new location creates a safe route for families to access the shop.

Downtown Bicycles

9 N. School St., Lodi

(209) 224-8504

DowntownBicycleLodi.com

 

 

Stockton:

 Stockton UOP Loop

EDITOR’S PICK: University of the Pacific is known for offering picturesque bike rides in Stockton, and the Calavares bike trail is a big part of that. Break off for this kid-friendly loop under five miles that starts at the footbridge at UOP—a paved trail that offers just one small uphill. Turn southwest on the levee where you’ll drop off at Brookside Road. Turn left on March Lane. Turn back to the levee to complete your loop.

Grupe Park to Embarcadero Loop | 2 mi.

EDITOR’S PICK: Take your bike to the neighborhood streets with this family-friendly loop in Stockton perfect for kids. The paved route is quiet, meaning traffic shouldn’t be of much concern (a definite plus for a family ride) and it begins and ends at a playground, a good payoff for when the ride is done!

Directions: Park at Fitz Grupe Park on Cumberland Place. Ride north to Benjamin Holt Drive. Turn left on Benjamin Holt Drive where it turns into Embarcadero Drive. The loop turns into a 14-mile drive and curves back into Cumberland Place.

Calavares River Bike Path | 6.71 mi.

This 6.71-mile asphalt loop is a popular choice for Stockton riders and University of the Pacific students. Though the trail is paved, the asphalt can be bumpy and greatly affected by rain and poor weather conditions, so bare that in mind before setting out on your adventure. Those who ride it applaud the “no-stopping” aspect of the route (with trail end points at Brookside Road, Holman Road, East McAllen Road, and Cherokee Road) that courses along one of Stockton’s levees.

Pixley/Slough Trail | 1.8 mi.

The Pixley/Slough trail is a quick 1.8-mile jaunt that leads north from 8 Mile Road (near Lower Sacramento Road) to West Road. The unpaved trail is located in the northwest corner of Stockton and runs along the waterway of the same name.

Manteca:

Manteca Tidewater Bikeway | 3.4 mi.

This 3.4-mile stretch is a completely flat, paved trail stretching through Manteca, north to south. Plenty of shade offers a wonderful escape for families, and makes it the ideal place to bring your dog along, too. Major streets occasionally interrupt the route, but crosswalks are available for safe crossing. Along the way there are several parks (including a skate park), drinking fountains, and murals.

Directions to the trailhead: To reach the northern trailhead, exit State Route 99 at East Lathrop Road and go .5 mile. The trailhead will be on your right. To reach the southern trailhead, exit State Route 120 at South Main Street. Turn left and proceed 0.4 mile to East Woodward Avenue. Turn right and continue 0.9 mile to Spreckles Road and turn left. Turn left on East Atherton Drive. Follow to the end.

 

French Camp:

 Pacific Gas & Electric Greenbelt | 1.75 mi.

 

The greenbelt beneath PG&E power lines in Weston Ranch runs diagonally across the residential development with numerous connecting points to local streets. The 1.75-mile paved trail takes bikers from French Camp Road to the end of the San Joaquin River. There, cyclers, joggers, and walkers can make the transition onto the San Joaquin River – French Camp Slough Trail to lengthen their route. This asphalt bike and walking trail runs along the French Camp Slough levees from Carolyn Weston Boulevard near Interstate 5 around to Abruzzi Court.

 

Tracy:

California Aqueduct Bike Trail | up to 65 mi.

 

This lesser-known route stretches from the Bethany Reservoir (about 10 miles northwest of Tracy) to the San Luis Reservoir. The paved maintenance path is open for bicycling, and entrance gates (best suited for road bikes) are sporadically placed. The trail is easily broken up to meet your endurance level. Take a shorter trek by parking your car at Grant Line Road where it crosses the aqueduct (a huge parking lot is available) and riding up to the Bethany Reservoir. The trail is level, a little bumpy, and scarce when it comes to amenities, but flanked on both ends by reservoirs boasting water activities like fishing and windsurfing. Best suited for adults and older children.

 

Ripon:

Ripon River Trail/Crossing

This kid-appropriate trail (striped for bicycle use) takes you though a natural wooded area. It starts at the end of Parallel Avenue in Ripon and runs parallel to Highway 99. Along the way you will pass over the river on the pedestrian/biking bridge and into Stanislaus County connecting to Hammett Road.

Directions to the parking lot: Take the Main Street exit off southbound Highway 99. Turn left over the freeway. Turn left at the stop sign by the Shell station. Turn left, and then a quick right onto Parallel Avenue.

 

Upcoming Bike Events

 

Lodi Cyclefest

June 5

Lodi Cyclefest, sponsored by Michael David Winery, is back! The annual race brings professional bikers to downtown Lodi where you can join in the high-speed (30-40 mph) fun, or take it all in as a spectator. The family-friendly event boasts an expo area, food, beer, and wine tents in downtown Lodi.

 

2nd Saturday Family Bike Ride

June 11, July 9, August 13

Get familiar with bike routes throughout Stockton by joining the San Joaquin Bike Coalition every second Saturday of the month, May through August, at the DeRosa Center at University of the Pacific for a family bike ride. The ride is casual and ideal for families who want to bike together. All rides are free.

 

San Joaquin Bike Coalition’s The Best Ride Ever Ride and LSD Ride

June 4, July 2, August 6

Bike enthusiasts clamor to be a part of this cycling event. With three different routes (30 miles, 100 kms, and 100 miles), there are options to meet almost every skill—and endurance—level. Hop on your bike and join in the fun as racers take off through San Joaquin County, exploring Lodi wine country, Lake Camanche, the Consumnes River, and more. Race time is 6 AM-3 PM. (209) 483-5199, SjBike.org

 

Join the Club: The Stockton Bike Club offers rides of all levels for its members. If you’re serious about making biking your new hobby, join in! StocktonBikeClub.org

 

SHOPS:

 

Robby’s Bicycle Shop

Premier full-service family bike shop offering service and sales.

7931 Thornton Rd. # D, Stockton

(209) 951-4371

RobbysBicycles.com

 

Klassic Cycles

A bicycle repair shop in Stockton.

4425 E. Main St., Stockton

(209) 993-5305

 

Downtown Bicycles Lodi

One-stop, full-service bike shop specializing in service and sales.

9 N. School St., Lodi

(209) 224-8504

 

Performance Bicycle

Chain retailer specializing in bikes, cycling accessories, apparel, and repairs.

6555 Pacific Ave., Stockton

(209) 951-5665

PerformanceBike.com

 

R.E.I.

Retail chain carrying gear, apparel, and accessories.

5757 Pacific Ave., A105, Stockton

(209) 957-9479

Rei.com

 

Tracy Cyclery

A local cycle shop.

130 W. 11 St., Ste. A, Tracy

(209) 835-7151

 

Lodi Cyclery

Local, family bike shop specializing in sales and repairs.

218 W. Pine St., Lodi

(209) 625-8717

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