Feeling a little overstuffed from the holidays? A few too many cocktails? Trips to the buffet? A bike ride from the Back Bay to Balboa Island is just what you need to re-energize your body and mind. So grab your bike, helmet and water bottle, and let’s get going!
The Back Bay (The Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve and Ecological Reserve) is the perfect place to begin. This coastal wetland is a fertile feeding area to a huge array of birds, fish and other animals, including many endangered species.
Start at the picturesque Vista Point, where Back Bay Drive intersects Eastbluff Drive. There is plenty of parking along the street if you can’t ride your bike there.
Follow Back Bay Drive along the bay towards the ocean. This road is one-way for cars and shared by everyone from families walking dogs and joggers, to high-speed groups of bikers. They are there mainly in the mornings, but be careful! They are fast and, how shall we say it - assertive? Stay in the dedicated bike lane and you will be just fine.
The scenery just shimmers with the sunlight on the water. It is not uncommon to see an egret landing gracefully and resting in the marsh. You might see wildlife photographers and painters with easels along your way.
Take Back Bay Drive past the Dunes Resort and turn right onto the bike trail. It will take you behind the Dunes, and you’ll make a left onto Bayside Drive. Cross Pacific Coast Highway at the light and follow Bayside to Marine Avenue and over the bridge to the island.
Bicycles cannot be ridden on the sidewalk on Balboa Island, so be sure to lock your bike at the top of Marine Avenue. Take a break at Starbucks or the new Juice Crafters, and youll be ready for your ride back.
This route is approximately nine miles. If you are looking for a shorter ride, begin at Eastbluff Park or on Back Bay Drive down the hill from Park Newport.
So what are you waiting for? Let’s go!