Yes, Riverside has a river, and bicycling the Santa Ana River Trail from Fairmount Park to the Van Buren Bridge and back (a 12.8-mile round-trip) is a great way to see it. Well, you’ll see it occasionally, anyway. This well-trafficked bike route quickly links to Riverside’s more rural side while twisting and turning over ups and downs for a highly dynamic ride that won’t burn your thighs too much.
The trail entrance route is on the west side of Lake Evans on Dexter Drive in Fairmount Park. It’s marked by a sign and is framed by a mass of palm trees. From there you’ll ride close to a mile before reaching the Santa Ana River Trail. Turn left (south) on the trail at the marked intersection to immediately ride under the Mission Boulevard Bridge. Ride along the west side of Mount Rubidoux for another mile before reaching Tequesquite Ave. Turn right to continue along the bike trail.
For the next 4.6 miles, the bike trail threads through rural properties and under bridges, and skirts Riverbed Park. Trees obscure the river for most of the ride, and the trail doesn’t always follow the exact shoreline anyway. But the river is in full view for the last mile—you can even hear the rushing water. Then, at the Van Buren Bridge, you can get right up close to the clear water—a great spot to turn back and enjoy it all over again!
JAVA REWARD: Once you’re back in Fairmount Park, it’s time to head another 1.2 miles into the heart of downtown Riverside to grab a latte from Molinos Coffee. Sitting right across the street from the historic Mission Inn, Molinos Coffee provides the classic coffeehouse atmosphere and is a perfect place to relax after a long ride.
To reach Fairmount Park from the CA-60 eastbound, exit on Market St. and turn right, then take the first right onto Redwood Dr. to enter the park. Take a quick right at the stop sign to stay on Redwood Dr., which loops around Fairmount Park and leads to multiple parking areas. One of the best areas to park is the lot past the intersection of Redwood Dr. and Dexter Dr. on the left. To get to the trailhead from that lot, turn left back onto Redwood and right on Dexter. The trailhead will be on the left. Molinos is at 3660 Mission Inn Ave. in Riverside.