The route from Portola to New Brighton takes you back to the Pacific where you ride along a mostly comfortable shoulder of Highway 1, past vast stretches of unspoiled, unpopulated coastline peppered with organic farms, the memorable Pigeon Point lighthouse (there is also a great Hostel there, if you want to make a night of it - SC is 28 mi. away), and finally the bike friendly oasis of Santa Cruz.
We love Santa Cruz! Very laid back place, full of great restaurants, bike shops, a couple of solid co-op groceries, and innumerable liquor stores to pick up liquid refreshment on the way to camp. All in all a long, but quick, flat, and straightforward route.
7 miles south from the center of Santa Cruz, through some postcard neighborhoods, lies New Brighton State Beach, at the tip top of Monterey Bay. The hiker- biker site is handsome (with one of the best locations at the campground), scattered with cypress trees, picnic tables, fire rings, grills, and open space. The site is a welcome locale and a very short walk to a tranquil white sandy beach that arcs along the Bay, bordered by cliffs and mature Monty pine and oak tress. You can hear the sound of waves gently crashing against the shore as you nod off to bed and awake. The hiker-biker is very close to some of the nicest bathrooms and showers we've ever seen at a campsite. Also, the campground seem to get a fair amount of cyclists. We saw a couple starting a West Coast tour and a touring cyclist who we recognized as a volunteer at our local farm stand, from Oakland.
It is about a 35 minute ride to the transit stop in Santa Cruz, where the 17 bus (with a 3 bike rack) to San Jose Caltrain runs every hour.
Alternative Camping Location - Henry Cowell Redwood State Park
There is also another great camping location right outside of Santa Cruz that we recommend. They have a hiker-biker and it's situated in a beautiful redwood grove. Check it out!