Are you jonesing for an easy trail that leads to a beach town brimming with oceanfront fun? Take a relaxing trip down Bob Jones Bike Trail to Avila Beach, a small bayside hamlet that can bustle with beachgoers on weekends. The level 5-mile round trip trail is suitable for hikers, joggers, walkers, and bikers. You will enjoy refreshing shade from oaks as you follow San Luis Obispo Creek down Avila Valley to its pacifying ending in Avila Beach.
The family-friendly excursion down Bob Jones Bike Trail departs from a park and ride lot on Ontario Road near Highway 101. The Bob Jones City to the Sea Bike Trail begins across the road from the large lot (next to the driveway for the Buddhist temple). Start down the paved path, which has two lanes for bikes bordered by dirt strips that are more comfortable for hikers. As Bob Jones Trail plots a cozy course beneath grand oaks, sneak a peak to the left for between-the-trees views of Ontario Hill. To the right, you will coast past apple orchards at the bottom of Sea Canyon. There are numerous benches along the way for those who would like to linger in this natural setting.
Bob Jones Trail is named after a local environmental activist, as a sign at the start of the trail explains:
Bob Jones was an environmental pioneer. He had a lifelong interest in protecting natural habitat and the environment. He worked for the Department of Fish and Game for 23 years. Jones co-founded the environmental firm Jones and Stokes in 1970. In 1983 he retired to Avila Valley. Bob served as President of the Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County from 1987 – 1989. Bob was instrumental in the restoration and protection of the San Luis Obispo Creek until his death in 1994. The trail honors a man with a vision who listened to, encouraged, and inspired others.
After crossing See Creek (about 3/4 of a mile from the start), Bob Jones Bike Trail passes beneath San Luis Bay Road and finds the bank of San Luis Obispo Creek. Just beyond the bridge, the trail passes Woodstone Market & Deli, where you can grab a bite, about a mile from the start.
Pass a playground on the left across from Avila Village Inn, and continue down the level, shaded riverside path. Bob Jones Trail parallels Avila Bay Club on the right as it approaches a left hand turn onto Blue Heron Drive, a wide gated road that sees far more traffic from cyclists and hikers than it does from cars.
The paved Blue Heron Drive continues along the creek and angles up a short hill next to the Avila Beach Golf Course. Even if you are riding a beach cruiser without gears, you should be able to conquer the hill without difficulty. After wrapping around the golf course, it is time to leave the road. Follow a sign directing bike traffic to the left across the greens and over Golf Course Bridge. The short metal span is open to bikers, hikers, and golfers in carts.
Leaving the golf course, Bob Jones Trail eases into Avila and comes to an end at the intersection of Avila Beach Drive and San Juan Street. Cross the road and begin exploring Avila Beach. You can hit the sand, walk out on the pier, grab a bite on the boardwalk, or quench your thirst at one of the only-in-Avila oceanfront wine tasting rooms.
Bob Jones City to the Sea Bike Trail is open to hikers and bikers alike. Dogs are welcome on leash. There are vault toilets at the trailhead and public restrooms near the Avila Pier. The vision of Bob Jones Trail is to connect downtown San Luis Obispo with Avila Beach, but currently the only complete section is the 2.5-miles of the aforementioned trail between Ontario Road and Avila Beach. No fee or permit is required to explore Bob Jones Trail, so get out and enjoy!
To get to the trailhead: From San Luis Obispo, take Highway 101 south to exit 196, San Luis Bay Drive. Turn right (west) at the top of the ramp and make an immediate left onto Ontario Road. Drive 0.8 miles and turn left into the park & ride lot for Bob Jones Trail.
Trailhead address: 7001 Ontario Road, San Luis Obispo, CA 93405
Trailhead coordinates: 35.185651, -120.703016 (35° 11′ 08.34″N 120° 42′ 10.85″W)
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