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Best Places For Off-Roading Near LA

May 11, 2013 5:00 AM

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(credit: U.S. Forest Service)

(credit: U.S. Forest Service)

(credit: U.S. Forest Service)

(credit: U.S. Forest Service)


If you’ve ever wondered what Southern California’s off-road enthusiasts and industry pros do when they are not attending events like the Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, the SEMA show in Las Vegas or the annual Overland Expo in Arizona, then look no further. When it comes to 4WD, OHV and State Vehicle Recreation Areas, Los Angeles-based 4×4 enthusiasts can pick from some of the nation’s best rock-hopping, dune-driving and mud-plugging destinations.

2011 ov expo 181 001 a Best Places For Off Roading Near LA
Hungry Valley SVRA
46001 Orwin Way
Gorman, CA 93243
(661) 248-7007
www.ohv.parks.ca.gov

Located in the Tejon Pass in northern Los Angeles and Ventura counties, the Hungry Valley State Vehicle Recreation Area boasts more than 19,000 acres and some 130 miles of easy, intermediate and extreme ATV trails — including sand washes and steep hill climbs — for use by dirt bike, quad bike, dune buggy and 4WD vehicle owners. Turn a day trip into a weekend tailgating party by camping out in one of Hungry Valley’s nine campgrounds or find a pitch in the adjacent Angeles or Los Padres National Forests.

Marian Campground, Frazier Park (credit: Julian Gothard)

Marian Campground, Frazier Park (credit: Julian Gothard)


Marian Campground
Mt. Pinos Ranger District
34580 Lockwood Valley Road
Frazier Park, CA 93225
(661) 245-3731
www.fs.usda.gov

At 6,600 feet, Marian Campground provides the perfect base camp for an off-roading adventure in the Los Padres National Forest. Shaded by tall Jeffrey Pines, this undeveloped five-site remote campground sits atop the ridgeline overlooking the central valley. Located off of Mil Potrero Highway, approximately three miles west of the hamlet known as the Pine Mountain Club, there are some great, though short, 4×4-accessible overlooks and ATV trails on the ridge (22W12 and 21W06) as well as two major OHV trails on the south side of Mil Potrero Highway (Canyon Road and Toad Springs) that run across to Highway 33. If you like wilderness camping and wonderful views coupled with the opportunity to hike, bike and off-road, then this is the perfect dog-friendly weekend destination (open seasonally from May through October).

(credit: State of California)

(credit: State of California)


Oceano Dunes SVRA
South Park Entrance
End of Pier Ave.
Oceano, CA 93445
(805) 773-7170
www.ohv.parks.ca.gov

A 3,600-acre sand dune complex that is tailor-made for the off-road enthusiast, Oceano Dunes SVRA is one of the best OHV destinations on California’s Golden Coast and an immensely popular destination for boys and their toys. Located three miles south of Pismo Beach off Highway 1, the 5.5-mile-long sand section offers a variety of easy through advanced driving challenges. If you’re planning on camping on the beach and are towing a trailer, you might need to drop tire pressures down to 15 psi to help provide some additional traction.

Related: Family Field Trips With Desert Adventures

(credit: U.S. Forest Service)

(credit: U.S. Forest Service)


Big Bear Lake
Big Bear Discovery Center
41374 N. Shore Drive
Fawnskin, CA 92333
(909) 382-2790
www.fs.usda.gov

The San Bernardino National Forest offers a number of designated 24″-50″ bike, 4WD and ATV off-road trails suitable for all experience levels. Although there are no “open” areas like Oceano or Hungry Valley, it’s a beautiful location and the OHV trails — primarily situated to the north and east of Big Bear Lake — encompass areas like Big Pine Flats, Hanna Flats, the Holcomb Valley, Serrano and Cactus Flats. There is a remote 19-site campground — seven miles into the backcountry — at Big Pine Flat that can be reached via Rim of the World Drive (subsequently Forest Road 3N14) from Fawnskin. Don’t forget to pick up a Forest Adventure Pass at the Discovery Center.

(credit: Jesse Grant/Getty Images)

(credit: Jesse Grant/Getty Images)


Joshua Tree National Park
74485 National Park Drive
Twentynine Palms, CA 92277
(760) 367-5500
www.nps.gov

There are plenty of 4WD-accessible backcountry roads within the Joshua Tree National Park, while ATV and OHV owners can head to the neighboring Anza-Borrego State Park or the Salton Sea. Yucca lovers can check out some stunning examples of the Joshua Tree on the dirt roads that run through Covington Flat. Hardcore off-roaders can attempt the grueling 20-mile trip down the Smoke Tree Wash via Pinkham and Thermal Canyons. Although some trails should only be attempted by high-clearance 4×4 vehicles, there are others — like Geology Tour Road near the Jumbo Rocks Campground — that offer fewer risks. Be sure to carry a first-aid kit, flares and plenty of water when driving in the park.

Related: Camping At Joshua Tree

Julian Gothard is an internationally published freelance writer covering all things Los Angeles. You can check out his popular RVing and travel column at Examiner.com.

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