Bike riding is undeniably fun, but add the chance to see dolphins leaping in the Pacific Ocean as you follow a coast-hugging path—well, it can’t get more California than that. Find this slice of pedaling perfection, plus rides and hikes ranging from leisurely to downright epic, all over Ventura County.
If you don’t have a bike with you, it’s easy to rent one—try Wheel Fun at the foot of Ventura Pier, or get bikes and great tips on local routes at Open Air Bicycles Ventura, in town. For an easy ride, pedal along Ventura’s beachfront, with views of Anacapa and Santa Cruz Islands. You can take a scenic ride through the towns of Santa Paula, Fillmore, and Piru in Heritage Valley. Or follow the new Rincon Bike Trail, a three-and-a-half-mile, pan-flat paved route that heads north to Carpinteria’s Rincon Point—a great place to watch ace surfers tackle this legendary break.
Ventura County has plenty of options for fat-tire fans, too. The newest is Harmon Canyon Reserve, a sprawling 2,100-acre nature preserve established in 2020 with miles of trails for biking, and also hiking and running. The views of Channel Islands National Park and the surrounding coastline from the reserve’s various vantage points are nothing short of spectacular. Local mountain bikers know Ojai and Simi Valley offer both rolling hills and lung-searing climbs: Ojai’s Sisar Canyon trail goes up and up and up, but rewards with horizon-wide vistas. One ride that’s almost all downhill is the Ojai Valley Trail, linking Ojai to the coast, with epic views along the way. The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area also ranks as a mountain biker’s dream, with options ranging from easy fire roads following oak-dappled streams to single-track trails that climb to eye-popping ocean views. Cheeseboro and Palo Comado Canyons, in the gently rolling Simi Hills, are favorites among local hikers and bikers too. Keep your eyes peeled for deer, and when evening comes, maybe owls and bobcats too.
Hikers can also find their happy place in Ventura County. For quick and easily accessed hiking jaunts, there are park-and-go opportunities at every turn: from Camarillo Regional Park (the hike to the top of Rhombus Rock offers panoramic checkerboard valley views) to Ventura’s McGrath State Beach, one of the best bird-watching spots in Southern California. Another local favorite is the hike along the rugged, vista-laden Backbone Trail in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. Relish solitude? Lose yourself in the serene emptiness of Los Padres National Forest (stop in at the ranger station in Ojai for route maps; you can mountain bike here too). Or catch the Island Packers boat in Oxnard or Ventura to hike in Channel Islands National Park.