It’s easy to picture bicyclists on the Victoria Avenue bike path in Riverside riding high-wheelers and sporting knickers or bustle skirts. After all, the path follows a scenic parkway built in 1892 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This easy ride passes through several old Riverside neighborhoods over the course of 6 miles (12 if you go round-trip) and oozes history. Victoria Avenue, named for Britain’s reigning monarch at the time, was envisioned by early Riverside resident Matthew Gage, a jeweler from Ireland, in an effort to entice people to buy land in the vast arid lands known as Arlington Heights. This route connected the newly developed farm lands with downtown Riverside.
The separate paved path stretches between La Sierra and Arlington Avenues, then continues as a bike lane to Arroyo Drive. You can start your ride at either end of the trail, but we suggest beginning at La Sierra, where a set of informational panels begins. Eucalyptus, California pepper, saucer magnolia, pink trumpet, and palm trees line the path, which also passes by orange groves, making for a scenic and well-shaded ride.
A cool historical bonus: In 1903, Theodore Roosevelt paid a campaign visit to Victoria Avenue and planted a Mexican fan palm tree to commemorate his stay. The tree is still there, a bit past the northeastern end of the bike path, at the intersection of Victoria and Myrtle. In fact, Victoria is said to be the first street in Southern California to be lined with palms. After touring Victoria Avenue, Roosevelt said, “Not only has it been most useful, but it is astonishing to see how … you have made this city and its surroundings a veritable little paradise.” We agree, Teddy.
The Victoria Ave. bike path is in Riverside near the 91 Freeway. From the 91, exit La Sierra Ave. and head south till it intersects with Victoria Ave. Find parking wherever you can, in any of the neighborhoods near the intersection. The bike path begins at the northeast corner, and is clearly marked. Dog-friendly!