One of the thrills of travel is that excited flutter you get when your plane is about to land, or when you round a corner and are met with the delight of seeing something wonderful and new. It’s the thing that makes travelling so addictive, and it’s one reason why hostel: there are more chances to experience something new when you’re staying at the kinds of unique lodgings HI USA offers across the country. If you’re itching for that feeling, a good remedy might be to spend a night or two at HI Point Montara Lighthouse and explore the area around the beachy hostel by bicycle. You’ll get to cover a lot of ground on two wheels and are more likely to happen upon the wonders of this part of the California coast than you would be driving. There are marvelous beaches, superlative vistas and all kinds of fauna and flora to amuse the eyes, all accessible for everyone from the casual bike rider to the serious cyclist. Bring your own or rent from Bike Works in Half Moon Bay, and treat yourself to that awesome feeling of falling in love with the world.
Half Moon Bay Coastal Trail
This is the trail to take if you’re looking for a serene cruise along the Pacific ocean and a chance to experience the natural beauty of coastal life. You can start the mostly flat route from the Half Moon Bay State Beach Visitors Center, and from there you head north, passing through several sweet beaches and the greenery that birds and other wildlife call home. Since the Half Moon Bay Coastal Trail isn’t strenuous to bike, the 4-mile venture is an excellent ride to take with new friends you’ve made at the hostel because there are many opportunities to stop and just take it all in. Plus you could also go for a celebratory drink and snack in one of the idyllic little beach towns that you pass along the way. Just don’t forget to bring some layers as the weather near the ocean can be unpredictable.
Devil’s Slide Coastal Trail
A short and sweet scenic route just north of HI Point Montara, the Devil’s Slide Coastal Trail is another great one for casual bikers who want to take in some breathtaking sights, and also makes for an excellent “new friend” activity. The trail is a former highway that’s been converted to accommodate only foot and bike traffic, and it stretches up along right next to the glistening ocean. There are sweet look out points along the 1.3 mile-route where you could spy some whales if it’s the right time of the year, and the interpretive signs dotted along the path will give some background on the history, geography and coastal wildlife. Both the Devil’s Slide Coastal Trail and the Half Moon Bay trail are part of the greater California Coastal Trail, which is a bike path that will extend from Oregon to Mexico once it is completed, so one day you’ll be able to continue along the coast for miles and miles of sheer beauty.
Old San Pedro Mountain Road
If you’re up for a bit of a challenge with the reward of getting to know the natural environment of this part of the coast, then you should head to the McNee Ranch State Park, which has many scenic trails, including one along the Old San Pedro Mountain Road. The mountain road is also a former highway that was infamously dangerous, so don’t be surprised if you see a few cars that met their end here, though now it’s just heavily trafficked by cyclists and hikers. You can start from Gray Whale Cove beach and head north along the trail to discover the sweet smelling shrubs and flowers and drink in the long-distance panoramas from the hilly peaks. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart (or legs), but absolutely worth it for the simple magic of the experience.
Bonus: San Francisco to Montara
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
It is entirely possible to cycle from San Francisco to Montara, so if you’re visiting the hostels in the city and want to escape to nature for a little bit, you don’t even need a car to do so. It’s about a 25-mile ride with a couple of challenging hills but beautiful scenery along the way, and your stay at the coast side hostel will be made even sweeter after a day of exercise. This is a great way to literally go off the beaten path and see a side of the Bay Area most visitors don’t get to experience, especially if you enjoy long cycles. Take a look at this group’s bike journey from San Francisco to Montara for a bit of motivation and inspiration, and get planning your own epic two-wheel adventure.
HI USA tip: HI Point Montara hostel has bicycle storage so you don’t have to worry about keeping your ride safe overnight. Be sure to book your stay directly on this site and support HI USA's mission to build a more tolerant world!