Biking the 10-mile Newport Beach Back Bay Loop Trail is a great way to see the quiet side of Newport Beach—the side that isn’t beach. Instead you’ll ride through 1,000 acres of coastal wetlands known as the Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve and Ecological Reserve.
Along the way you’ll get a bike’s-eye view of resident waterfowl and some of the 35,000 migratory birds—including great blue herons, ospreys, and western grebes—that pass through the vast wetlands.
The trailhead is off of Bayside Drive just outside the Newport Dunes Marina parking lot and is marked by a bike path sign that’s slightly obscured by foliage.
You’ll ride through an alley between two neighborhoods for 0.7 mile and then make a left on Back Bay Drive. Continue straight to stay on the bike path. After the first mile, Newport’s Back Bay wetlands are on full display for the next 6 miles of the ride. You’ll have chances to get up close to the water as well as opportunities for panoramic views.
At 4 miles into the ride make a left onto Eastbluff Drive, cruise down the hill, and make a left at Jamboree onto the bike trail to the west side of the road. Stay to the right at the fork to cross the bridge along Jamboree. Stay on the sidewalk briefly before making a quick left back into the eco reserve. Ride along the Back Bay Loop Trail for 2.3 miles until it links to Irvine Avenue. Cruise down Irvine for 1.4 miles and turn left on Westcliff Drive, then make a right on Dover Street. Follow Dover to Coast Highway and make a left. Within a half-mile, make another left on Bayside Drive to return to where you started. How many birds did you count?
JAVA REWARD: No trip to Newport Beach is complete without a stop at Newport Coffee Company. This coffeehouse claims they’re the big wave of specialty coffee, and with sourced roasts from Stumptown Coffee, they live up to their claim. Gelato more your speed? They’ve got you covered.
From CA-55 S, get onto CA-73 S and take Exit 15 toward Jamboree Rd. (The toll does not apply to this section of Hwy. 73.) Turn right on Jamboree Rd., continue 3.3 miles, turn right on CA-1, and then another right onto N. Bayside Dr. Curbside parking along N. Bayside Dr. is available for free. Newport Coffee Company is at 104 Mc Fadden Pl., Newport Beach.