Off-Roading and Back Road Adventures: SoCal

Feb 22

When people think of Southern California, they mostly think of perfect weather, sandy beaches, and those “California Girls” (thank you, Katy Perry). What people in other states don’t often realize is that Southern California (and California in general) is an ideal place to do some off-roading and back road adventures! All the way down south in San Diego County up to Northern California in Alameda County, there are spots that many love to travel to just so they can get a feel for that off-road driving. For this edition of “Off-Roading and Back Road Adventures,” we’ll keep it down low and discover what Southern California has to offer.

Southern California

A

Azusa Canyon/San Gabriel OHV Area (Los Angeles County; San Gabriel River Ranger District): With 150 acres of diverse terrain, these areas will spark your interest no matter what kind of off-roading you are looking for! Water crossings, rocks, dirt roads and sand hills are spread across the land’s surface. If you are looking for a challenging trail, this is a great place for you to travel to!

Alamo Mountain (Santa Barbara County; Los Padres Forest, Mt. Pinos Ranger District)

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (San Diego County; California State Parks)

Arroyo Salado (Imperial County; El Centro Field Office)

B

Ballinger Canyon OHV/Deer Park (Santa Barbara County; Los Padres National Forest, Mt. Pinos Ranger District)

Big Bear Lake Area (San Bernardino County; San Bernardino Forest)

Black Canyon (San Bernardino County; BLM)

Black Mountain (Pozo LaPanza) (San Luis Obispo County; Los Padres Forest, Santa Lucia Ranger District)

Bradshaw Trail (Riverside County; BLM, Palm Springs Field Office)

C

Calico Ghost Town (San Bernardino County): As one of the few original mining camps of the Old West, many are attracted to this ghost town for many reasons, one of them being the chance to off-road. Be sure to be careful with the mines, though. Especially if you do see a ghost!

California City (Kern County; California City)

Cajon Junction OHV (San Bernardino County)

Cedar Springs Dam Silverwood Lake State Recreation Area (San Bernardino County; San Bernardino National Forest)

Cleghorn Ridge Trail (San Bernardino County: With 14.4 miles of rough terrain, this trail is only recommended for very experienced outdoorsman and skilled off road enthusiasts. If you need practice before you reach that point, do not worry! This location is open all year round, so when you feel you are experienced enough, you can come to this trail at any time!

Corral Canyon/Bear Valley (San Diego County; Cleveland Forest, Descanso Ranger District)

Crab Flats Campground and OHV Area (San Bernardino County)

Cuddeback Lake Basin (San Bernardino County; BLM, Ridgecrest Field Office)

D

Dove Springs OHV Recreation Area (Kern County; BLM, Ridgecrest Field Office)

Drinkwater Flats (Los Angeles County; Angeles Forest, Santa Clara/Mojave Ranger District)

Dumont Dunes OHV Recreation Area (San Bernardino County; Barstow Field Office)

E

East Sierras (Inyo and Mono County; Bishop Field Office)

Eastern Mojave Desert Areas (San Bernardino County; Needles Field Office)

El Mirage OHV Recreation Area (San Bernardino County; BLM, Barstow Field Office): Who knew that large, dry, lakebeds could be so much fun? With dirt packed tightly, El Mirage OHV is perfect when you are just looking for a good time on flatter land. The only downside is that this area now requires a fee. For more information on the fees you will need to pay, please contact the Barstow Field Office for additional information.

El Paso Mountains (Kern County; BLM, Ridgecrest Field Office)

F

Frog Meadow Area (Kern County; Sequoia Forest, Greenhorn Ranger District)

G

Glen Helen OHV Park (San Bernardino County; San Bernardino County, Dept. of Parks and Recreation)

H

Hanford Cycle Park (Kings County; CMC Racing)

Heber Dunes SVRA (Imperial County; SVRA, California State Parks)

Hungry Valley SVRA (Los Angeles and Ventura Counties; SVRA, California State Parks)

I

Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area—Glamis (ISDRA) (Imperial County; BLM, El Centro Field Office): As the largest mass of sand dunes in the state of California, the Imperial Sand Dunes (also referred to as “Glamis”) is the perfect place to go, especially if you have a dune buggy! Off-Highway vehicle (or OHV) lovers enjoy coming here due to the incredible scenery, solitude and a plethora of animals and rare plants.

J

Jawbone Canyon OHV Recreation Area (Kern County; BLM, Ridgecrest Field Office)

Johnson Valley OHV Recreation Area (San Bernardino County; BLM, Barstow Field Office)

K

Kennedy Meadows (Kern County; Sequoia Forest, Cannell Meadow Ranger District)

L

Lake Arrowhead Area (San Bernardino County; Angeles Forest)

Lark Canyon (Imperial County; El Centro Field Office)

Littlerock (Los Angeles County; Angeles Forest, Santa Clara/Mojave Rivers Ranger District)

Lytle Creek Area (San Bernardino County; San Bernardino National Forest): If you’re looking to escape the suburbanized lifestyle many of us have become accustomed to, the Lytle Creek area in San Bernardino’s national forest will be ideal for you! Waterbeds, rocks, and packed dirt make off-roading ideal here.

M

Mt. Baldy Ranger District (San Bernardino County/Los Angeles County; San Gabriel River District)

Mojave National Preserve (San Bernardino County)

O

Oceano Dunes SVRA (San Luis Obispo; SVRA, California State Parks)

Ocotillo Wells SVRA (San Diego County; SVRA, California State Parks)

Olancha OHV Area (Inyo County; BLM, Ridgecrest Field Office)

Ortega Trail (Ventura County; Los Padres Forest, Ojai Ranger District)

P

Panamint Valley (Inyo County; BLM, Ridgecrest Field)

Park Moabi (San Bernardino County; San Bernardino County, Dept. of Parks and Recreation)

Parker Strip (Mojave County, AZ; BLM, Lake Havasu Field Office)

Plaster City/Barstow (Imperial County; BLM, El Centro Field Office): Open 24/7 and free of charge, this open area of different terrain grabs the attention of many. Be careful, though. There is limited use area and military practice bombing targets that are adjacent to the area! Read all the signs before riding!

Poleta (Inyo County; Inyo Forest, White Mountain Ranger District)

Porterville OHV Park (Tulare County; City of Porterville, Parks and Leisure Services)

Q

Quail Flat (Tulare County; Sequoia Forest, Hume Lake Ranger District)

R

Rand Mountain/Randsburg/Red Mountain (Kern County; BLM, Ridgecrest Field Office)

Rasor OHV Recreation Area (San Bernardino County; BLM, Barstow Field Office)

Rice Valley Dunes (Riverside County; BLM, Palm Springs): Closed to vehicles as of 2002.

Rowher Flat OHV Area (Los Angeles County; Angeles Forest): Are you looking for hard-packed terrain? Rowher Flat is just right for those with dirt bikes or looking to do some motocross. Even if you have a four-wheeler or a larger truck, there are still great trails to travel on.

S

San Gabriel (Los Angeles County)

San Jacinto Area (San Bernardino county; San Bernardino Forest)

Santa Barbara (Santa Barbara County; Los Padres Forest, Santa Barbara Ranger District)

Spangler Hills OHV Recreation Area (San Bernardino County; BLM, Ridgecrest Field Office)

Stoddard Valley OHV Recreation Area (San Bernardino County; BLM, Barstow Field Office)

Superstition Mountain (Imperial County; BLM, El Centro Field Office)

T

Tujunga Ranger District OHV (Los Angeles County; San Fernando, Los Angeles River Ranger District)

Tulare Cycle Park (Tulare County; Tahoe Forest Truckee Ranger District)

W

Wildomar (San Diego County; Cleveland National Forest, Trabuco Ranger District): With 360 acres of OHV area and over four (4) miles of trails, Wildomar is a great consideration when looking to go off-roading in Southern California. The ground may be packed tight, but the trees are beautiful and the trails get challenging. When you’re done on the trails and enjoying your day, you are able to relax at one of their 11 available campsites. These are offered on a first-come, first-served basis, though, so keep that in mind when planning out your trip!

Fin.

Of course, wherever you go, there are always more trails and back roads that have yet to be discovered or are “secret” spots for the common adventurer (we all have our spots that are just too good to share with the world!). Whilst you’re out on the trails trenching through the dirt, mud, and trees that many have seen, why not also take the path less traveled on? When doing so, make sure that you travel safely and are prepared for whatever may happen! You wouldn’t want to be stuck out in the wilderness (even if it is a supervised area) under any conditions.

In addition, if you are looking to become a better defensive driver before hitting the trails, why not take a course to learn how to do so? www.olts.com provides a knowledgeable course on learning how to become a better defensive driver and what you can do in certain situations. Although online defensive driver programs may not be completely directed at off-roading and back roads, you will still gain knowledge that will become as a tool when on said dirt roads. Drive safe!

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