A Cyclist’s Guide to Santa Monica Mountains National Park + Extra Routes in LA

Discover a thrilling cycling adventure in California’s Santa Monica Mountains National Park. Located just north of Malibu and a short drive from downtown LA, it offers tranquil landscapes with challenging climbs and winding roads. Explore sandy beaches, rugged shores, lush canyons, and fragrant sage. Navigate a network of roads for serene cycling experiences. Look out for elite cyclists like Axel Merckx’s U23 team training in January. Experience the seamless blend of rugged wilderness and vibrant city energy for an unforgettable adventure.

When to go

Weather in the Santa Monica Mountains can be unpredictable, with rainfall ranging from as little as 50 mm to as much as 1,270 mm from year to year. But unlike the Alps or Pyrenees, where harsh weather limits riding seasons, the Santa Monica Mountains offer much more favorable conditions: thanks to mild winters and dry summers, the area is suitable for year-round cycling.

January to March:

During these months, coastal temperatures are comfortable, but rain is possible. With average highs around 17–18 ℃, it’s a good time to explore the Santa Monica Mountains. However, be prepared for rainfall, ranging from 15% to 22%.

April to October:

As spring arrives, temperatures rise, marking the beginning of the best cycling season. Morning fog may be a challenge, particularly in summer, but usually clears by midday. Beach season peaks in July, with temperatures reaching highs of 18 ℃ to 23 ℃. Rainfall is unlikely, ranging from 3% to 12%, making these months perfect for cycling enthusiasts.

November to December:

As autumn gives way to winter, temperatures decrease and scattered rainstorms become frequent. Despite this, average highs of 18–20 °C ensure enjoyable cycling. However, be ready for possible winter rain. Chance of rainfall ranges from 11% to 18%, so check the forecast before planning outdoor rides during this period.

Cycling routes


Distance: 101 km with 2,927 m elevation gain

This route features some of the best cycling roads in the Santa Monica Mountains: Latigo, Mulholland Hwy, Old Topanga, Tuna Canyon, Saddle Peak, Stunt, Piuma, and Las Flores. Expect some climbing, but the experience is unforgettable. For those short on time or energy, the top recommendation is a 32 km loop starting at the junction of Mulholland Highway and Stunt Road.


Distance: 96 km with 1,823 m elevation gain

This challenging 80-kilometer ride includes almost 2,000 meters of ascent. Despite its difficulty, the route offers stunning scenery. Carefully selected top roads like the famous Mulholland Highway will provide you with steady climbs, thrilling descents, and breathtaking views of the rugged peaks. Embark on this journey to experience the true essence of the Santa Monica Mountains.

The Unemployed Cyclist Santa Monica Mountains: Mulholland Highway (Route Overview)


Distance: 81 km with 2,438 m elevation gain

This route is quite long, so make sure to be prepared. However, the majority of it boasts smooth, well-paved surfaces, making for an easy ride. 

As you ride along Ocean Avenue, you’ll come across Palisades Park, situated between you and the beach. With tall palms and inviting benches, it’s an ideal place to stop for a snack or take a break. Plus, you’ll enjoy unbeatable views of Santa Monica and its iconic Pier, making it a must-see on your journey.

RedRides Will Rogers State Beach – Bike Path


Distance: 69 km with 1,443 m elevation gain

This route is for experienced road cyclists and requires a high level of fitness. Be prepared for challenging sections, including some unpaved areas that may prove difficult to navigate. The starting point of the tour can be easily reached using public transportation.

Don’t miss the breathtaking Johnson Overlook and Stone Canyon Overlook along the way. The panoramic vistas from these vantage points are simply stunning and well worth the stop.

Coastal California Santa Monica to Venice coastal bike path


Distance: 57 km with 303 m elevation gain

This leisurely ride offers a relaxed pace, typically taking around 2 hours to complete. 

It spans through Beverly Hills and West Hollywood and offers great views of the ocean and easy-to-ride roads.


Distance: 19 km with 425 m elevation gain

This is the shortest ride on the list, amounting to just 1 hour. Mandeville Canyon Road is a great place for cycling: even though it is quite tough to go up, you’ll be rewarded with a really fun descent on your way back.

Jasper Verkuijl Great climb on Mandeville Canyon road!

Places to stay

Malibu is known for its high costs of accommodation, and the hotel options in close proximity to the Santa Monica Mountains are rather limited, making Airbnb or vrbo.com appealing alternatives. 

This means researching accommodations before visiting may take some time. We compiled a short list of possible options to help you with that:

Malibu Beach Inn address link instagram

The Surfrider Hotel address link instagram

Bike rentals

The Santa Monica Mountains are something of a hidden gem, mostly enjoyed by locals rather than visited by tourists from abroad. So, if you’re looking to rent a road bike in the Santa Monica area, it’s important to plan ahead since there isn’t a main area for bike rental shops.

Serious Cycling: 29041 Thousand Oaks Blvd.Agoura Hills, CA 91301 link | instagram

Helen’s Cycles: 2501 Broadway, Santa Monica link | instagram

Bike Attack: 12775 W. Millennium, Playa Vista link | instagram

Coffee stops

Pedaler’s Fork: 23504 Calabasas Rd, Calabasas, CA 91302, link | instagram

Big Dean’s Ocean Front Cafe: 1615 Ocean Front Walk, Santa Monica, CA 90401, link | instagram

Three Extra Routes in LA from Mitch Boyer

Having been inspired by a video of Mitch Boyer, a popular cycling YouTuber, we’ve added three of his routes to this guide. At the beginning of the video he says he will convince you to visit Los Angeles for a cycling vacation. Don’t know about you, but he had us utterly convinced. Hope you’ll enjoy the video, his rides, and get excited about the idea of a cycling vacation in LA.

Mitch Boyer Is California Cycling Better Than Europe? I Asked a Pro

Hollywood Hills

Distance: 51 km with 1,444 m elevation gain

Griffith Park

Distance: 48 km with 1,144 m elevation gain

Angeles Crest Highway

Distance: 191km with 4,204 m elevation gain

If you spot any inaccuracies or have new routes, events, perspectives, or locations to add to the guide, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us via any social network below. We value your input and are excited to incorporate any changes that will improve the guide.

With MapMagic route planner, you can craft your one-of-a-kind adventure with friends, add segments and multiple routes on one map, and use 70+ maps and layers to fully prepare for navigating unknown terrain. Join here

Read more about cycling in the US: 

A Guide to Cycling Chicago: The Coolest Rides and More

Сycling Boulder: The Colorado Hidden Cycling Mecca

Cycling San Francisco: The Essentials

12 of the World’s Most Spectacular Long-Distance Cycling Routes

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