Newport Beach – Back Bay, San Joaquin Hills & Corona Del Mar Loop (Kéan Coffee stop included!)

Low 70s and sunny today..perfect day for a ride around Newport. Decided to plot out a route that would give some flat scenery for a few miles of warm up before hitting the climbing for about a thousand feet of gain followed by dropping back down to the coast for some more scenic riding. While a relatively short loop at 23 miles, the thousand feet of climbing ensures a decent workout. I would especially recommend this loop to those unfamiliar with Newport/Corona del Mar – it will give you a nice introduction to the area.

This ride starts at the intersection of Eastbluff Dr & Back Bay Dr, right off of Jamboree. There is ample street parking here, so it makes for a good starting point. Also, the starting point qualifies as rather scenic:

From 2009-06-27 – Newport Back Bay Cycling

Back Bay Dr borders the Newport Bay Ecological Preserve and is quite popular with runners and cyclists due to minimal traffic…and chances are, you will be passing cars versus cars passing you:

From 2009-06-27 – Newport Back Bay Cycling

If any officer is reading this, I never cycle above 15mph on this road (this is where I insert the “angel with a halo” smiley). With that disclaimer out of the way…

So, this road is also rather unique in another regard:

From 2009-06-27 – Newport Back Bay Cycling

Don’t see too many roads marked that way! After a few miles of very scenic riding, you will hit San Joaquin Hills Rd on your left. You may want to choose to keep going straight along Back Bay to the end of that road (a few miles later)…you’ll get to see the rest of the bay and get some more flat warm up miles in…then double back to the intersection. Once you do turn onto San Joaquin, you immediately start climbing:

From 2009-06-27 – Newport Back Bay Cycling

San Joaquin only gains about 550 feet in 4 miles, so it is not that hard. The only tough section is about 2 miles in where you hit a 7-9% section…but that lasts for less than a mile. The first stretch is not all that scenic, passing near to Fashion Island (a semi-upscale, outdoor mall), but the shoulders are wide so it’s no big deal. After passing MacArthur (practically a freeway), it starts getting a bit more scenic. You pass a lawn bowling club on your right:

From 2009-06-27 – Newport Back Bay Cycling

Can’t say I’ve seen a lawn bowling club before on any ride. This is Newport Beach though, so I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me :p Looking up the road from this point:

From 2009-06-27 – Newport Back Bay Cycling

Still a well-traveled, somewhat high speed road, but the shoulder is huge (and you get a painted bike lane shortly ahead). Finish that tougher part of the climb and you are rewarded with views of all the expensive hillside houses:

From 2009-06-27 – Newport Back Bay Cycling

Just before hitting the 4 mile mark, turn right onto Ridge Park Rd and cross Newport Coast Dr. Now the fun starts! While only about a mile long, this climb nets you almost 500 feet of elevation gain with an average grade of about 9%. Additionally, the first fifth is about 12%. No wonder I had to shift down so far. Just after passing Vista Ridge Rd on the right, you will see a small park on your left. This is a nice place to stop for a little refueling while taking in a view of the surroundings. Cute park:

From 2009-06-27 – Newport Back Bay Cycling

Free views of the 73 freeway included:

From 2009-06-27 – Newport Back Bay Cycling

And towards the coast (was a bit hazy out that way today):

From 2009-06-27 – Newport Back Bay Cycling

Continuing on, time for descending! Vista Ridge makes for a nice descent with lots of greenery and some views along to your left:

From 2009-06-27 – Newport Back Bay Cycling

Found myself hitting 43mph on the part right after that photo..but be warned that this is a pretty short descent and you will have to scrub all that speed before arriving at Newport Coast Dr. Newport Coast is also not a bad descent. Sweeping curves, but more traffic. Nice at about 30mph.

Finally getting out to the coast in Corona del Mar, this was a perfect beach day:

From 2009-06-27 – Newport Back Bay Cycling

There were a few people out:

From 2009-06-27 – Newport Back Bay Cycling

And a little detour over to the bay front walking path on Balboa Island:

From 2009-06-27 – Newport Back Bay Cycling

This little island is a worthwhile detour if you’ve never been. If you have been, you may just want to skip this part as the crowds and traffic can be insane.

Finally, heading back inland and you hop on the bike path that skirts the other side of the bay:

From 2009-06-27 – Newport Back Bay Cycling
From 2009-06-27 – Newport Back Bay Cycling

23 miles and I am back to the car. Headed over to Kéan Coffee and got a very tasty Turkish latte:

From 2009-06-27 – Newport Back Bay Cycling

That is cardamom you see sprinkled on the top. It adds a very nice smell without impacting the flavor. Very tasty! Also, this place is right along the route, and has outdoor seating, so you could easily stop by on the ride versus after the ride…either way it makes for a great stop.

The route map:

The Discussion

see what everyone is saying

  • Harrison June 28th, 2009 at 12:30 pm #1

    Thanks for your nice article here about your bike ridge starting at Newport Beach – Back Bay, San Joaquin Hills & Corona Del Mar Loop, and good photo images too.

    We are over at back back bay whenever possible for a run, hike or bike ride, and should be expanding our zones.

  • Carmen June 29th, 2009 at 6:16 pm #2

    Hey, that looks like a very pleasant ride – really nice views from that park. and the turkish coffee sounded delicious.

  • Mary Campbell July 8th, 2009 at 5:05 pm #3

    Great blog, love the pictures.

  • pedro July 11th, 2009 at 7:15 pm #4

    don’t sell ridge park short! it averages 10.5% from the base to the stop sign at vista ridge. its newport’s mini version of park ave in laguna and still always tough to grind up.

  • Balayeur April 2nd, 2011 at 12:03 am #5

    going the opposite direction where you climb summit park? is a longer climb it seems and then you come down ridge park, also turning left at the first light as you climb up newport coast from PCH and end up at the top Pelican Hills Road is a gnarly long climb as well

  • Kristina October 16th, 2011 at 3:12 pm #6

    I did a somewhat revised version of this ride, but it was awesome and put me in a good mood for the rest of the day. Thanks!

  • October 29th, 2011 at 11:14 am #7

    Online Home Of Cory McCoy…

    […]Newport Beach – Back Bay, San Joaquin Hills & Corona Del Mar Loop (Kéan Coffee stop included!)[…]…


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