The Perfect Bike Ride For You
Tell me if this sounds familiar: you've been sitting inside all week, you forgot what fresh air feels like, and you're in desperate need of some Vitamin D. We've compiled a list of the ten best cycling and hiking trails in Benicia; relaxing and invigorating bike rides for all ages and all experience levels.
Breeze along the waterfront, explore the hills, or cycle past historic architecture from the California gold rush! From beginner to expert, this article breaks down ten winning choices to find the perfect trail for you. We've also included suggestions for things to do along the way, to guarantee you make the most of your visit!
Perk Up, Cool Off, and Rejuvenate
Most of Benicia's cycling trails intersect with the shopping area along First Street, which offers socially-distanced opportunities for to-go indulgences like a coffee break, ice cream stop, or even the unusual (and wildly-popular) Sea Moss from Freshly Rooted Tribe, to kick up your fighting immune system.
Freshly Rooted Tribe has possibly the most unique menu in Benicia, with interchanging items such as Alkaline Koffee, Moss Fresca, Soursop Basil Mylk Tea w/ mango purée, Moss Fresca Mylk Bar, and Iced Soursop Basil Tea. If you don't know what any of that is, let Benicia locals can assure you... it is delicious and incredibly healthy. Their slogan is “Health is Wealth.” If you agree, try out something from their ever-changing intriguing menu.
(Photo courtesy of Freshly Rooted Tribe)
Cycling Trails for Beginners
A nice easy ride, a slight breeze against their helmet, and a slow pace. These next four trails are all categorized as “easy”.
1. Downtown Historic Walk/Ride
Starting at the First Street Green on East B street, you can easily park your car in the lot and hop out with your bike. This trail loops around downtown, past First Street businesses, the State Capitol, and five other historic buildings that were built in the 1800’s. With this trail, not only will you get some exercise, you will also get a dose of history. As a bonus, there are many places to stop and rest along the way.
2. Waterfront Walk/Ride
This next trail offers the best view of the Carquinez Strait. For an idyllic sunset ride, begin at about 7pm or earlier. Park at East B street off of First Street, then cycle to Ninth Street Park, where you can stop and enjoy the view (then enjoy the view even more as you head back)!
Distance: 1.2 miles
Time: 45 minutes
3. Benicia Marina Walk/Ride
This trail is short, easy and very flat. If you are with small kids, this might be the best trail to cover since there are no cars to worry about. Along the ride, you can see the different boats in the Marina, a trail lined with willow trees, and a climbable sculpture built by Benicia's own Robert Arneson. Park your car at First Street Green park on East B street).
Distance: 1.5 miles
Time: 20 minutes
4. Benicia State Recreation Area
This trail takes you to protected wetlands, botanical gardens, and surrounds you with nature. It's located right off the freeway, with easy parking and a low-key 5 mile bike ride with 2 small hills. This is the ride if you are looking for a “get away from it all” type of day.
For anyone worried about COVID-19 (i.e. all of us), the State Recreation Area is huge--nearly 450 acres--so even when there are other people around, everyone is so spread out you hardly even notice them.
Distance: 5 miles
Time: 35 minutes
Intermediate Cycling Trails
Now let's get a bit more challenging and check out the intermediate trails. Still on the easy side, but with a few hills here and there, and a bit longer than the first four trails.
5. Dillon Point Walk/Ride (Within Benicia State Recreation Area)
This trail is not meant for standard road bikes, you need mountain or hybrid bikes. Riding along the dirt trails, you will see views of Mount Diablo, the Carquinez Strait, and Zampa Bridge, scattered with native plants and animals. The trail is a fairly short 30 minute loop, but still offers a good little challenge.
There are a few benches along the way, and the starting point is at a picnic table. It's a good idea to grab a picnic to-go from one of the shops on First Street before you head to the State Recreation Area to enjoy before or after your ride.
Distance: 1.5 miles
Time: 30 minutes
6. Historic Arsenal Walk/Ride
Another historic ride, but a bit more of a challenge. If you are into history, this is definitely the trail for you. Explore the east side of Benicia, including sites like the Jefferson Street Mansion, Commanding Officer's Quarters (pictured above), and Benicia's iconic Clock Tower.
Distance: 4.5 miles
Time: 36 minutes
7. Community Park to Southampton Park
Starting at Benicia Community Park, this trail has two uphill climbs, four parks, and goes for 4 miles. You are sure to get some great cardio on this ride. If you need a break along the way, the parks are great to stop and relax for a bit, do some cloud watching, or read a book.
Distance: 4 miles
Time: 1.5-2 hours
8. Community Park to Waters End Park
Another trail that starts at Benicia Community Park, this trail loops for 3 miles through residential streets lined with charming vintage architecture, and has one uphill climb. If you want a little extra exercise, you could even do this trail before or after the above trail.
Distance: 3 miles
Time: 30-40 minutes
Strenuous Cycling Trails
These final two trails will make you work, sweat, and if you are a bit new, make you sore the next few days. They all have fun challenges, but they're completely doable if you have been on a bike more than a few times. Don't forget your helmet on these next two trails!
9. Lake Herman Loop
Starting at First Street Green on East B street, head through downtown Benicia along the waterfront, towards the Benicia State Recreation Area. There's a steep hill, a long downhill stretch, then it is past Lake Herman before heading back towards downtown along Second Street.
This trail travels 20 miles, with two uphills and two downhills. Scenic views include downtown shops, the waterfront, hills, lakes, and parks galore! This trail also passes over I-780 on a bike bridge.
Distance: 20 miles
Time: 1.5-2 hours
10. The Grand Tour
The creme de la creme of biking trails in Benicia. This trail is meant for experienced riders only, on account of all the hills. In exchange for all the hard work, you will be treated to the best views of Benicia. After 25 miles, when your legs are all noodley, sit down and relax in downtown Benicia for a spell. Plan a picnic using our picnic guide here.
Distance: 25 miles
Time: 1.5-2 hours
If you are looking for somewhere to eat a full meal along First Street for after your ride, check out this list of all the restaurants in Benicia that are open and offering to-go or outdoor seating.