California residents are spoiled for choice when it comes to first-class motorcycle routes.
Whether you live in LA and just treated yourself to a new Harley, or you’re a complete beginner looking to rent a motorcycle in Los Angeles, the sunshine state offers endless variety.
Detailing fixed routes seems senseless. For one, we have no idea which direction you’ll be coming from. Beyond this, everyone has GPS, right?
Instead, we’ve assembled a half-dozen broad suggestions for great California motorcycle rides you can use as inspiration.
From the mist over mountains to the vigorous ocean breeze, from the glitz of Sunset Boulevard to the starkness of the desert, California is a state best experienced on two wheels.
Here’s how you can get started…
6 Best Summer Motorcycle Rides in California
1) Angeles Crest Highway
Angeles Crest Highway is famous the world over. This highway cuts all the way through the Angeles National Forest. If you’re not local, you might not be aware of this huge wilderness in the middle of metropolitan LA. Why not try exploring it on a rented motorcycle next time you’re in town?
While this particular stretch is only 60 miles long, you should have more than enough inspiration around you for a pleasant day on the road.
This route will test your cornering with plenty of sweeping curves along mountain-studded highways. The vista around here is stark and uncompromising, the roads a pleasure to ride. Suck down the smell of fresh pine trees as you barrel along the peaks with Insta-worthy views all around.
There’s plenty of scope for watersports, hiking, and other outdoor activities like horseback riding once you’re inside the Angeles National Forest.
When you’re looking for an injection of raw nature without traveling too far outside the city of Los Angeles, give this route a whirl. Just take it easy on those corners if you’re not experienced on a motorcycle.
2) Conzelman Road, San Francisco
Next up, we’ll whisk you to San Francisco.
Even if you’ve never set foot in SF, you’ve doubtless seen those vertiginous streets in movies like Bullitt over the years. Riding those streets astride an iron horse is invigorating.
To the north of the city, you’ll find the Golden Gate National Recreational Area. Here you can try your hand at horseback riding if you’re feeling adventurous. If not, just kick back and enjoy the greenery before firing up your steed again…
Head over the Golden Gate Bridge with iconic views best experienced like this, out in the open. If you take Conzelman Road, you can veer west for some coastal road action. This cliffside stretch of road will take you all the way out to Point Bonita Lighthouse along some outstanding and twisting coastal highway.
The best thing?
You can turn around and do it all again on the way home.
3) Pacific Coast Highway 1
Now, Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) is undoubtedly the most famous highway in the US. Slicing well over 600 miles along the coast of California and beyond, there’s no substitute for traveling this road on a motorcycle.
The scenery along the length of PCH is what elevates this ride to the unforgettable. With natural beauty all around and that ocean breeze whipping into your face, you’ll find this ride literally breathtaking.
Another great thing about PCH is that outside of major towns during peak hours, traffic is relatively light. With views of the Pacific and that gentle salt breeze, this might be one of the few times on a motorcycle where you don’t want to go full throttle.
Personal favorites along PCH include the alluring Hoh rainforest, the roads surrounding Malibu, and Bixby Creek Bridge right out near Big Sur. You can ride PCH all the way into central LA so why not pull up on Mulholland Drive and watch the sun go down?
4) Redwood Highway
Now, with some routes in LA and San Francisco off the slate, we’ll turn our attention to Oregon City, a ghost town in Butte County, CA.
From here, you can take Route 199 right out to Route 101. You can take 101 south through the imposing Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park. This route is smothered with enormous redwood trees. The colossal trees keep coming as you ride out along the coast.
Beyond the redwoods, you’ll be treated to a smorgasbord of ocean and beach views with a vista to die for.
Spanning 200 miles, this is a beginner-friendly route without too much challenging terrain.
5) Sierra Way to CA-190
If you still haven’t had your fill of huge trees, why not take Sierra Way to CA-190? These twisting and turning highways give you staggering views right down to the valley floor.
Take Sierra Way to CA-190 heading north and you’ll barrel through the Sequoia National Forest. These meandering roads are lined with sprawling sequoias with views from 7000 feet giving you plenty of photo ops. There’s ample opportunity to stop off en route and fire off some snaps.
Unlike the route outlined directly above, the conditions on Sierra Way are likely to challenge even more experienced riders. You should also watch out for large numbers of deer and free-range cattle in this area. Hitting one of these at speed on a motorcycle is something you certainly want to avoid.
6) The Snake in Los Angeles
Now, some more intensely challenging action for any stronger riders out there.
Right in the heart of Los Angeles, you can find The Snake, a series of 21 consecutive turns that will leave you feeling dizzy when you’re done.
Luckily, you can stop off at the nearby watering hole beloved by Jay Leno. The Rock Store is a biker-friendly hangout with its fair share of celebs passing by.
The Snake is out on Mulholland Highway and you should not miss this switchback extravaganza if you’re in LA looking for some fun.
If you find yourself in the heart of LA, are you up for the challenge of The Snake?
If you’re on vacation in California, remember you can just as easily hire a motorcycle as a car. If you thought driving a convertible was liberating, wait until you experience life on two wheels. Feel completely connected with the road and enjoy all these California motorcycle routes have to offer.