California is known for its millions of acres of farmland and beautiful weather. From mountains to deserts, you’re never far from a great trail. Check out some of these off road trails California has to offer.
If you are looking for a moderate trail, head to Pilot Rock OHV Trail in Cedarpines Park. It’s easy for 2WD vehicles but has some challenging areas off the main route. For something more difficult, try Signal Peak OHV Trail, where you’ll encounter several obstacles and rocky areas.
Our top 35 off road trails in California are as follows:
- Hollister Hills State Vehicular Recreation Area
- Cleghorn Ridge OHV Road 2N47
- San Gabriel Canyon OHV
- Carnegie State Vehicular Recreation Area
- Hungry Valley State Vehicular Recreation Area
- Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area
- Prairie City OHV
- Metcalf Motorcycle County Park
- Miller Canyon OHV Trailering Site
- Stoddard Wells OHV Area
- South Cow Mountain OHV Recreation Area
- Pilot Rock OHV Staging Area (2N33)
- La Grange OHV Regional Park
- 4×4 Practice Track
- Devils Hole OHV Trail 2W01
- Corral Canyon OHV Area
- Wildomar OHV
- Johnson Valley OHV
- Mammoth Bar OHV Area
- Hot Springs Mountain
- Otay Mountain: Minnewawa Truck Trail to Marron Valley Road
- Sardine Lakes
- Berdoo Canyon
- Old Coast Road
- Movie Road Trail
- Signal Peak OHV Trail
- Joshua Tree National Park Geology OHV Tour Road
- OHV Trail to Bodie Ghost Town
- Mount Watson Trail
- Valley of the Moon Trail
- Twin Peaks through Sawmill Pond OHV Trail
- Pio Pico Campground to Otay Mountain
- Painted Canyon Road
- Palomar Divide Road
- Canyon Sin Nombre
You can’t go wrong picking California for your next off-road adventure. The beautiful weather, incredible scenery, and natural terrain add so much to the off-road experience. So check out these trails and off road parks in California, and get ready for your next trip.
35 Best Off Road Trails California
1. Hollister Hills State Vehicular Recreation Area
Hollister Hills offers 24 miles of off-road terrain to explore. It’s great for beginners and advanced riders. Trails are well-marked and maintained with several hill climbs and obstacles to enjoy.
There’s also a campground, plenty of facilities, and picnic areas. It’s first-come, first-serve, so you do not need to make reservations.
The Upper Ranch is primarily used for Jeep riding and motorcycle events. It’s open from 8 am to sunset. The Lower Ranch is mainly for motorcycles and ATVs. There’s also a mini-bike track. The Lower Ranch is open from sunrise to sunset.
2. Cleghorn Ridge OHV Road 2N47
Cleghorn Ridge is a great area for beginners and advanced riders. There are plenty of challenging offshoots and areas to explore. Some enjoy it during the rain, where they can splash through the mud and puddles.
Weekends can be quite busy. Also, make sure to be with someone or have a spotter, since the advanced trails can be quite dangerous to take alone.
3. San Gabriel Canyon OHV
This off-road trail offers 160 acres of rocky, sandy terrain to explore. Tread lightly, as there are some difficult sections. Expect river crossings, rocks, sand, gravel, and mud. It’s small, but fun.
San Gabriel is a beautiful area with large canyons and a lake. It’s a great place to be with family and friends, and also meet other off-roaders.
Note there is an $8 fee for each primary vehicle and $5 for each secondary vehicle.
4. Carnegie State Vehicular Recreation Area
With more than 1,300 acres of exciting off-road terrain and 80 miles of rugged trails, Carnegie State Vehicular Recreation Area is a top choice to visit. Expect rocky areas, steep hills, and canyons as you traverse through the hills of eastern Alameda. Enjoy the fantastic scenery it has to offer.
You’ll encounter new challenges with each visit. The best time to go is a day or two after a light rain. Otherwise, it is mostly sandy and rocky in the summer. There are some great hills to climb and marked trails, ranging from green to diamond level difficulty.
5. Hungry Valley State Vehicular Recreation Area
This is a great area with many open trails you can enjoy for hours. Hungry Valley offers more than 130 miles of exciting trails for Jeeps, motorcycles, ATVs, dune buggies, and 4×4 vehicles.
Visit in Spring and Fall since rainfall helps with traction and keeps the dust down. There are trails fit for beginners and experts. For beginners, they can head to the Native Grassland Management area, where they can enjoy the moderate, scenic trails. More advanced riders can take on the backcountry area where they will come across sand-washes and hills.
There’s so much to explore here, so it’s best to bring a map. There are also rangers to help with directions. Weekends can get fairly busy, but worth the trip.
6. Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area
Ocotillo Wells is a fantastic place to go off-roading. It’s a large desert area with more than 85,000 acres to explore and supports all experience levels. Test your off-road skills at one of the many destinations it offers, such as Devil’s Slide. You can also enjoy open camping areas.
7. Prairie City OHV
This is an excellent riding sport, where you can BBQ and enjoy the great outdoors. Prairie City OHV area offers great trails for beginners and experts. Choose from various terrain and expect rolling hills, oak trees, open grasslands, and beautiful scenery.
This is a great place to bring the family for a day of fun in the dirt. There is plenty to choose from with whatever vehicle you have, including Jeeps, trucks, ATVs, dirt bikes, and more.
8. Metcalf Motorcycle County Park
Metcalf Motorcycle County Park, located in the southeast Santa Clara Valley, offers 17 miles of dirt trails to explore. There are available areas for both beginners and advanced riders. There are also motocross tracks, picnic areas, and bathroom facilities.
The park opens Thursday to Monday. All OHV users must wear DOT-approved helmets.
9. Miller Canyon OHV Trailering Site
Miller Canyon is an excellent place to off-road. Trails are well-maintained and offer different levels of difficulty. Weekends get very busy, so you may want to opt for a weekday.
It’s also a great place to camp, or just have a picnic day. Enjoy the views and other friendly visitors.
10. Stoddard Wells OHV Area
The Southern California off road trails in this area offer a diverse landscape. It features rolling hills, open valley, steep climbs, and rocky mountains. It’s a great place to escape the city and enjoy the outdoors. Camping is also available.
Most of the visitors use 4-wheel drive vehicles, ATVs, UTVs, and motorcycles. There is plenty of areas to explore and even a cafe to enjoy. The terrain is very rocky in certain areas, especially near Hodge road.
It is a great place to experience the desert without sand dunes. Be cautious of large vehicles and riders coming in the opposite direction.
11. South Cow Mountain OHV Recreation Area
South Cow Mountain offers 23,000 acres of public land for OHV use. Enjoy the scenery as you traverse the Mayacamas Mountains. Trails are well-marked with difficulty ratings and vehicle recommendations. The dirt road near the Red Mountain campground can be a bit of a challenge, so make sure you have a 4WD.
It’s also an excellent place to camp with plenty of facilities. They’re well-maintained and popular with visitors.
12. Pilot Rock OHV Staging Area (2N33)
This 12.6-mile trail near Cedarpines Park is accessible year-round. There are several routes to take that range from easy to difficult. This washed-out area can get rocky, muddy, and mildly strenuous. It is accessible by a 2WD, but many side trails have a 4WD requirement.
This is a great place to off-road and bring the family to enjoy the outdoors. The trail is relatively short and should take about 1-2 hours to complete. It’s easy to access and offers great views.
13. La Grange OHV Regional Park
La Grange offers 147 acres of perk to enjoy. It’s a popular area that includes mud bogs, trails loops, hill climbs, and play areas. The park’s west side has 4 tracks with directional areas for motorcycles and ATVs. The east side is a non-directional area with challenging terrain suitable for 4×4 vehicles.
There are lots to do for riders of all skill levels. The park is open every day, year-round. There are also campgrounds, BBQ areas, picnic tables, and restrooms.
14. 4×4 Practice Track
4×4 Practice Track is a great place to go on a weekend with your off-road vehicle to do some riding and flex your suspension. Test your vehicle’s off-road capability on one of their eight human-made features. Their tracks replicate California’s backcountry terrain with steep and rocky areas. There’s plenty of space and something for every level.
15. Devils Hole OHV Trail 2W01
This is an excellent trail with steep inclines and amazing views. It is not an easy off-road trail. You will need a 4WD with clearance to get down and back up. There are also loose rocks that make it a challenge, but fun.
There’s also a small lake, perfect for a picnic. A large vehicle is not recommended to get down to it since it is quite steep and rocky. Instead, park at the top and hike down. You could also manage with an ATV or UTV.
16. Corral Canyon OHV Area
With over 51 miles of off-road trails, Corral Canyon OHV Area is great for Jeeps, trucks, dirt bikes, quads, and side by side. Routes range from novice to advanced. If you really want to test your vehicle, take on one of the black diamond trails.
OHV markers are found throughout the area. They include vehicle recommendations, difficulty, and system number for the map.
17. Wildomar OHV
Wildomar OHV offers 8 miles of trails to explore, ranging from easy to difficult. It’s opened year-round and can be accessed from South Main Divide Road.
It spans a total of 360 acres with campgrounds located close to the OHV routes. An Adventure Pass is required. Green or red stickers must be visible on non-street legal vehicles.
18. Johnson Valley OHV
Johnson valley is a fantastic place to ride with different terrain to choose from. Enjoy the desert landscape, rocky mountains, rolling hills, and open valley. There are also dry lake beds and sandy washes to test your vehicle on.
Camp under the stars or bring your RV to one of their campsites. Off-road vehicles must have a flag for safety, and riders must wear helmets.
19. Mammoth Bar OHV Area
Mammoth Bar OHV Area northeast of Sacramento offers beautiful scenery, wildlife, and places to explore. There is a wide range of trails with steep inclines and difficult terrain. Ride within your limits and stay on designated trails. There are facilities available, such as picnic tables and BBQs.
20. Hot Springs Mountain
This 9.5-mile route is a dog-friendly OHV trail that is home to lots of rare wildflowers and wildlife. This route near Warner Springs is open all-year-round and has an elevation gain of 720 meters. Hot Springs Mountain is relatively difficult, but you’ll be rewarded with some spectacular views and great hiking spots.
21. Otay Mountain: Minnewawa Truck Trail to Marron Valley Road
This 13.8-mile, point-to-point route trail near Dulzura, California, is an adventure-filled area where you can go hiking, mountain biking, running, and off-road driving. It has an elevation gain of 936 meters and offers fantastic views. Don’t let this trail fool you with its accessible 4WD side trails; it is a moderate to challenging trek.
22. Sardine Lakes
A favorite among Californians, this moderate 4×4 trail located in Sierra City offers astounding views of the rocky peaks. A 1.8-mile picturesque drive that is open this year, this lovely trail features many activities such as snowshoeing, fishing, mountain biking, hiking, and many more!
This one-of-a-kind trail, among many others, is dog-friendly, too. You might get lucky and see the waterfall in Sardine Lakes.
23. Berdoo Canyon
If you’re looking for an easy to moderate desert trail, look no further, since this 24.3-mile point-to-point the trail is open all year-round. Aside from being among the best California off road trails, you can also mountain bike, hike, do some bird watching, and enjoy the trail for its views. Keep in mind that this trail prohibits pets.
24. Old Coast Road
Just near Carmel, California, is this 10.1-mile, point-to-point trail that is accessible year-round. It features a fantastic wildlife sanctuary and a nearby forest. Take note that vehicles with high clearance are a must.
25. Movie Road Trail
Home to Alabama Hills Recreational Area, this trail is loved by many. With a 17-mile loop trail in Lone Pine, California, this trail is rated moderate. You don’t need a 4WD for some of the areas, but you may not be able to get too deep into the backroads. You don’t need a 4WD for some of the areas, but you may not be able to get too deep into the backroads. The roads are wide and easy for off-road vehicles to take, but there are some bumpy areas.
26. Signal Peak OHV Trail
This 11.1-mile point-to-point trail in Soda Springs rewards you with incredible views. It’s rated difficult, featuring a steep climb with some loose rocks, so use caution. Because of this, vehicles with bigger tires and more lift are recommended. Signal Peak is a great site for off-road driving with minimal traffic.
27. Joshua Tree National Park Geology OHV Tour Road
Considered one of California’s most beautiful trails, this 17-mile road near Twentynine Palms, California, offers excellent off-road riding with astounding wildlife views. A rocky loop-type of the trail, this OHV road boasts an elevation gain of 483 meters and is accessible year-round.
28. OHV Trail to Bodie Ghost Town
This point-to-point, moderately busy trail is primarily enjoyed for its off-road driving activities. Situated near Bridgeport, California, this off-road trail features a magnificent lake and is best visited around May to November. It’s a historic site as well.
29. Mount Watson Trail
Another lake-featuring off-road trail in Tahoe City is Mount Watson Trail. This 25.4-mile out and back trail is rated as moderate and is partially paved. Home to fun activities such as nature sightseeing, bird watching, and hiking, this trail has lots of side trails. It is worth mentioning that it is perfect for riding at dusk.
30. Valley of the Moon Trail
Nestled in Jacumba Wilderness, Valley of the Moon trail is a moderate out and back trail in California with lots of exciting activities. This trail is also one for the books since, at its end is the Elliot Mine sitting on top of The Peak.
31. Twin Peaks through Sawmill Pond OHV Trail
A short 3-mile trail in South Lake Tahoe, Twin Peaks is the one to go for in a day’s worth of running, hiking, and off-road driving. It is a bit rocky compared to others but rewards you with astounding views.
32. Pio Pico Campground to Otay Mountain
Home to beautiful wildflowers, this 12.4-mile trail nestled in Jamul will excite you with its wildlife and fun-filled activities. Rated as a moderate trail, this famous off-road driving trail is accessible all year-round. Dogs are permitted but must be kept on a leash.
33. Painted Canyon Road
For a scenic drive, this 9.4-mile trail is the one for you. The trail is rated as moderate, so it is suitable for all skill levels. Painted Canyon Road is accessible all-year-round.
34. Palomar Divide Road
A 25.1-mile point-to-point moderate trail in Aguanga, California, Palomar Divide Road will never bore you with its wildflowers and a large number of outdoor activities.
35. Canyon Sin Nombre
Check this fantastic off-road trail in Ocotillo, California. This 8.4-km out and back trail is perfect for taking the 4×4 for an adventure-filled day.
Best visited during November to April, this off-road driving site may be short, but it’s full of exciting views of mud formations and exhilarating slot canyons. Make sure to bring a vehicle with adequate ground clearance.
Conclusion – Off Road Trails California
Sunny California offers many exciting off-road areas to explore. As always, it’s considered the best state for beaches and outdoor activities. Off-road driving is not an exception! From high Sierra Mountain trails, tranquil lakes in Tahoe, to overlooking roads across the Pacific, California is indeed a treasure mine of off-road parks and trails in the country.
Kris is an avid off-roader and outdoor enthusiast who loves to brave the elements and take on challenging terrain. He also enjoys sharing his passion and knowledge with others so that they, too, can appreciate the ride.