Category Archives: Back Roads

Carrizo Gorge Goat Trestle

,Carizzo Gorge

Carrizo Gorge Goat Trestle – via Mortero Wash. Near the south end of Anza Borrego State Park is the infamous ‘goat trestle’, one of the largest wooden rail road trestles in the US.

giant trestle desert

This hike can be reached by driving N on San Diego County Road S2 (from I-8) into Anza Borrego Desert State Park. Near the park boundary keep your eyes peeled for Mortero Canyon Rd (signed) on the left side. This is a sandy, one-lane, dirt road, accessible by passenger car, that leads out to the train tracks & then past to the Mortero Big Boulder campsites. Park at rail road tracks near water tank & start hike from here.

NOTE: Do not be alarmed if you happen to see NUDE hikers coming from the opposite end of this railway, where a nudist resort is located along Interstate 8, called De Anza Springs.

hike bike primitive camp sites

Carrizo Gorge Trestle
Railroad Tunnels, near Anza Borrego Desert

rail road history

San Diego & Arizona Eastern Railroad ­ SD&A/SD&AE

Ground was broken on September 7, 1907 by San Diego’s Mayor, John Forward and the construction of the 140 mile route was completed on November 15, 1919. The first through train was the called the “Golden Spike Limited”, named after the $286 golden spike, which John D Speckels drove into the ground near tunnel #8.

  • The Goat Canyon Trestle was built in 1932 to re-route tracks due to a landslide.
  • Passenger Cars Ran until 1951.
  • The route through Carriso Gorge was closed temporarily by Tropical Storm Kathleen in September of 1976.
  • And was reopened 1981, and then closed again by recurring storms.
  • Kyle Railways ran freight cars until mid 1984.

train

The Carriso Gorge section has fallen into disrepair with two trestles being burned and the collapse of two tunnels as the result of fires. The trestles have been rebuilt and one of the tunnels has been repaired – however,  this scenic section of track is used mostly by hikers and mountain bikers.

Goat Trestle Anza Borrego Desert

Other Facts: Derailed cars are from 1984 and were filled with bags of cement. Laborers were brought in to unload the cement but the cars were left. The Goat Canyon Trestle is 185″ tall and 600″ long. During its use it was the tallest wooden structure in daily use. Hence, this trestle was designated a Historic Civil Engineering Landmark in 1986. Carrizo means “reed grass” in Spanish. Total cost of construction was $18 million.

In 1979 the SD & AE west of Plaster City was sold to the Metropolitan Transit Development Board for $18.1 million. SD&A was said to stand for “Slow, Dirty and Aggravating” generally because of the high temperatures, smoke and open windowed trains cars.

South end of Anza Borrego State Park
Dispersed camping
Dispersed camping (for free) in the Boulders

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RailRoads & Historic Train Towns in California

National Forest Cabins

California Fire Lookouts for Rent
US Forest Service Cabins

red cabin

NFSlogo
Rent a secluded cabin with an amazing view, a historic tower for wildfire spotting, or a USFS guard station – hidden deep inside USDA California National Forests. Several of these NFS lookouts have been closed recently, so the ones listed below have links to status and reservation information.

Dirt road access is common to reach these remote locations. Some require stair climbing, or steep access hikes. Winter months are usually snowy, inaccessible and sometimes dangerous for these high country locations. Access roads suffer from closures due to rock slides or landslides. Check with the locals ranger station for current conditions.

A few of these rentals are open all year long – in the southern part of the golden state.

El Dorado National Forest USFS

Harvey West Cabin
4,720′ elev. on Silverfork American River, Gold Rush

Loon Lake Chalet
6375′ elev. near Georgetown, Gold Country California

Robbs Peak Lookout
Robb’s Hut / Robbs Cabin
6686′ elev near Placerville, Gold Country California

Sly Guard Cabin
Sly Park @ Jenkinson Lake, near Placerville, Gold Country California

Van Vleck Bunkhouse
6549′ elev. near Georgetown, Gold Country California
download PDF info sheet

Lassen National Forest USFS

McCarthy Point Lookout
overlooking Mill Creek Canyon and Ishi Wilderness
ranger & info 530-258-2141

Mendocino National Forest USFS

Pine Mountain Lookout
>>>> Renovated & ReOPENS soon! April 2020
4400′ elev.  over looking Eel River wilderness
ranger & info 707-275-2361

Plumas National Forest USFS

Crocker Guard Station
5700′ elev. near Meadow on back road
Lake Davis Loop, way out behind Portola, California

 

Big Bear Lake 2002
Big Bear Lake, Southern California

San Bernardino National Forest USFS

Coon Creek Cabin
Actually this one is a reservable group campground – next to a set of historic cabins. Big Bear Area Group Camp Site. Heart Bar Rd #1N02 near Angeles Oaks, CA

Morton Peak Fire Lookout
(no longer available overnight stays 2019)

Coon Cabin
Coon Cabin – Southern Cal

Sequoia National Forest USFS

Big Meadows Cabin
Big Meadows Guard Station
off Big Meadows Rd #14S11
7600′ elevation; located in between Sequoia NP & Kings Canyon NP

Camp 4 ½ Cabin
1100′ elevation; Lower Kings River
near Pine Flat Lake, CA

Grouse Valley Cabins
3 cabins near lakes; Giant Sequoia National Monument, Western Divide
4800′ elev.

Mountain Home Guard Station
Mountain Home State Forest, Sequoia Groves
6000′ elev. near Springville, CA

Needles Fire Lookout
(destroyed in structure fire 2011)

the needles
View of The Needles, from Dome Rock on Western Divide Highway (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

Oak Flat Lookout
Oak Flat Cabin Rental
4900′ elevation; Kern River canyon near Lake Isabella

Poso Guard Station Cabin Rental
open all year round4500′ elev. near Kernville, CA

Quaking Aspen Cabin Rental
Giant Sequoia National Monument, Western Divide Highway near Ponderosa, CA

Wishon Cabin Rental
Tule River, Giant Sequoia National Monument; open all year round. 4000′ elev. near Camp Nelson, CA

Shasta/Trinity National Forests USFS

Forest Glen Guard Station
near Trinity River & Forest Glen, CA

Frog Meadow Guard Station
7760′ elev. near Lake Isabella, CA

Girard Ridge Lookout
Historic Fire Lookout Tower
4809′ elev. near Dunsmuir, CA

Hirz Mountain Lookout Tower
Hirz Mtn. Fire Watch Tower Rental
overlooking Shasta Lake, CA
(currently closed for repairs 2019)

Harris Springs Guard Station
near McCloud, CA

Little Mount Hoffman Lookout
Mt. Hoffman Rental
7000′ elev. near McCloud, CA

Post Creek Guard Station
near Hayfork & Platina, CA


Sierra National Forest USFS

Camp Four and a half Cabin
Camp 4 ½ Cabin Rental
Lower Kings River, open all year round
1100′ elev. near Pine Flat Reservoir

 

Six Rivers National Forest USFS

Bear Basin Butte Cabin & Fire Lookout
elevation 5300′ in Six Rivers NF / Smith River NRA
(road damage & access issues 2017)

Tahoe National Forest USFS

Calpine Lookout Cabin Rental
near Sierraville, CA

Sardine Peak Fire Lookout
overlooking the Sierra Buttes and serene Lakes Basin, Yuba Rivers, North Gold Country CA

lakes basin views


Childs Meadow

Childs Meadows @ Lassen Forest

on the Lassen National Forest map this huge meadow area along Highway 36 is marked as “Childs Meadows”

morgan mtn burnt
Morgan Mountain above Childs Meadow after the fire 2021

Childs Meadow sits at 5000 feet in elevation, on the edge of the Mill Creek drainage, just south of Lassen National Park. The meadow spans from Mill Creek, eastward along State Route 36 for many miles. Gurnsey Creek flows down Wild Cattle Mountain, near the resort, crosses the pavement, and heads east to meet up with the Deer Creek drainage above Chico, California

This sacred meadow was the summer camp and ceremonial ground for native tribes that existed long before the white men showed up. The meadow basin was originally owned by J.C. Tyler who used it for summer grazing land. He established a resort about 1864 and by 1896 it was a regular stage stop for travelers.

In 1900, Tyler sold the land to Abner Nanny who used it for summer grazing. Frank Childs purchased it in 1909 and also grazed livestock there seasonally. By the late 1930s a service station and cafe had been established. Then came cabins that were the precursor of the privately owned Childs Meadow Resort, which burned down some time later. These days Highlands Ranch Resort is the newest place to call this location home.

Lassen: Childs Meadow (before the fire)

July 2011 vs. July 2021

lassenmeadows2011

What a difference a decade makes. Drought in California makes a green meadow brown!

Childs Meadow 2010
Childs Meadow Resort in 2010

NEW Highlands Ranch Resort @ Lassen

NEW Highlands Ranch Resort @ Lassen
Upscale Highlands Ranch Resort – Bar, Restaurant & Cottages

RENOVATED (2017) across the street
Village Inn at Highlands Ranch

Village Inn Childs Meadow Lassen
Village Inn @ Childs Meadow, South Lassen

mountains

MOUNT LASSEN MEADOWS
Lassen Peak @ 10,457 feet has the highest known winter snowfall amounts in California. There is an average annual snowfall of 660 inches, and in some years, more than 1,000 inches of snow falls at its base elevation of 8,250 feet.

childs meadows

and a month later (after I start this post)…
AUG 2021 the DIXIE FIRE

Burnt Above
Highlands Ranch Resort with Dixie Fire burn scar on ridge above 2021
October Snow Barn
Historic Barn – early snow in October 2021

2007 – Nature Conservancy Buys Childs Meadow
times-standard.com/2007/10/20/the-nature-conservancy-buys-childs-meadow/

cafe and motel
Cafe and Motel (1950s postcard )

As for the spelling on the name:
Childs Meadows is commonly seen on USFS maps, and found inside a book called Tehama County Place Names.
Most locals know it as Childs Meadow, but it also seen spelled with an apostrophe s – Child’s Meadow

Swimming Pool at Childs
Swimming Pool at Childs Meadow Resort (1950s postcard)

Mortero Wash

Anza Borrego Desert State Park / Mortero Wash

San Diego Desert Camping

south anzaxterrayellow

Primitive desert car camping close to SD

fireboulders

Interstate 8 EAST from SD / exit Ocotillo. SD county road # S2, the south end near the State Park boundary. Gorgeous every season but summer. Great winter camping close to SoCal.

This  dirt road is located in a desert wash area, which starts west – off the paved road S2. The signed white desert wash is a suitable drive for passenger cars (most years). But you best have 4×4 if the rain gets going good. Low riders should watch for the ridge lines – as they are naturally rockier places and could take out an oil pan of a mini SUV (at a high rate of speed).

mortero campsThe giant boulders garden at the far end of this route have nice views of the Imperial desert floor. Better from the top of the boulders too; numerous primitive camp sites are tucked into the coves, surrounding the big boulders.

No toilets; no shade; no water; minimal vegetation. At night the stars are heavenly, but you can see city lights from Calexico and Mexicali.

train

GOAT TRESTLE?

From this area you can hike or mountain bike up to the “old goat trestle” and numerous historic train tunnels @ Carrizo Gorge Goat Trestle (not to be confused w/ the wildflower destination called Carizo Plains in Kern Co). BRING A HARD COPY topographic MAP of this area, if you wish to explore past camp. Moderate hike, an all day adventure. Bring lunch and water!

bike on railroad

Tom Harrison Anza MAPSAN DIEGO Backcountry Map
this waterproof map has the entire State Park covered with all back roads, trailheads, campgrounds and railroad tracks

artistsview

bouldertents

When you decide to stop the car, look around for the best spot. Park off the road way and preferably in a turn out or camp spot. Turn off the engine, get out of the automobile, stretch your legs, breathe, look, close your eyes – tight and breathe deeply, then open and look around you again. This particular place is special, you can just feel it. Walking around the boulder area, be cautious of snakes.

On the boulders – closely examine them, climb on them, get to the top; you will find (Native American) Indian grinding holes called mortars or morteros.

gethigher

great side trip option: Across the paved road (SD County Road S2) on the opposite side of the valley is a nice hike to Sand Dollar Hill. (I’m sure this isn’t the real name). Dirt road leads up to a dirt parking area for hikers. Busy lil place sometimes. These desert dirt hills have wind caves and chunks of sand dollars scattered all over them. The real ocean floor way out here, east in the Anza SD desert… how cool is that?

great side trip option: Canon Sin Nombre is just up the road a piece, N on S2, on the EAST side of the road. Amazing viewpoint turn out, right on the highway, overlooking the impressive topography and badlands. If you have a high clearance SUV or any truck you can drive down into the sandy tight, rocky wash. It meets back up with another main wash way back there.

Tons to explore back here. Off roader should think Tread Lightly on this turf and primitive car campers should use a Leave No Trace approach. White sand, deep sand, caves, smoke trees, and the best slot canyon climbing & hiking this side of the Anza Borrego State Park.

desert views

Trinity Alps Wilderness

NorCal Mountains – Trinity Alps Wilderness

Sapphire Lake -- Suicide Ridge -- Trinity Alps

525,627 acres

North of Weaverville & Lewiston, about 10 miles
West of Trinity Lake & Redding, CA
Headwaters of the Trinity River & the Salmon River

Shasta-Trinity National Forest

Thompson Peak – 9002′ elevation
Trinity Mountain – 6094′
Granite Peak – 8091′

Trinity is NorCal’s jewel of alpine lakes and granite peaks – many above 8000′ elevation, about 40 miles inland from the ocean. Trinity is located in between the infamous redwood coast and the I-5 corridor. Rivers, creeks, lakes, and trails into the high elevations regions, bqckpackers and equestrian campers alike.

trinityalps_lgHiking trailheads are accessed from all sides -On the east side you have Trinity Lake & Trinity River w/ Highway 3 running lengthwise in a north-south direction. Hwy 299 runs east-west along the south side of the wilderness. Klamath River Hwy 96 lies on the west side of the wilderness. Salmon River, Scott Mountains and Cecilville are north of the alps.

Both the small Russian Wilderness & the larger Marble Mountain Wilderness are located to the north of Trinity Alps, along with rural towns near the Scott Mountains and the Salmon River. Castle Crags Wilderness is to the eastern side, near Interstate 5.

towns nearby –

camp

Campgrounds near Trinity Alps Wilderness

hike

Trinity Alps Trailheads

lake

Waterfalls & Lakes near Trinity

NFS


View Larger Map

The mountainous area is quite unique, as exposed granite mountain peaks and alpine lakes are pretty rare in the coastal Cascade ranges. The only other spot in California that has an 8000′ peak nearing the coast is just north of Los Angeles – Los Padres’s Mount Abel & Mount Pinos peaks, both over 8000′ in elevation.

TRINITY ALPS TOPO MAP

camp

The USDA map for Trinity Alps Wilderness was outta print for nearly 2 years and it has recently been updated and reprinted. New edition released in 2013 and now available at the Total Escape map store. Printed on waterproof map paper and updated in 2012.

7S02 – San Berdu NF

Fire Safe Trees

Toro Peak
Forest Road# 7S02

Santa Rosa Truck Trail
San Bernardino National Forest

South of Palm Desert, CA
Southeast of Idyllwild, CA
SE of Lake Hemet
Graded dirt road – southbound, off Palms to Pines Hwy 74

7S02 up hill

Road conditions on dirt roads change with the weather and the seasons. This route can be rocky and uneven in spots. One lane road, on a big hill w/ minimal pullouts. Snow is possible, during winter & springtime. This route often closed during winter months – or for rock slides. Trailers and RVs are not recommended on this dirt road, although small motorhome campers can try.

ROUTE CURRENTLY CLOSED? find out on USDA web site link

Elevation approx 6000′ @ HWY
w / route continuing up to Toro Peak @ 8740′NFS

NFS local camp sites: 

  • Santa Rosa Campground
  • Santa Rosa Springs Campground
  • Toro Campground

Bare bones, primitive camp sites. Tables, fire rings. Must have a campfire permit for this region. Vault toilets? None.

toro_campsite

Did I mention the wind yet? Tall trees do block a majority of the wind, but some areas get whipping – so choose your tent site wisely. And stake it down well, before that quick day hike. Since this is a mountain ridge line, expect thunderstorms, wind and possibly light snow.

The big, famous Palm Canyon in Palm Springs starts below. The impressive desert canyon trails lead up to highway 74. Continue on foot uphill, southbound, cross the pavement, and end up in this Toro Peak region. Small campgrounds, few people, great views over the desert. Pick a smog free weekend (with wind) for best Coachella Valley views.

San Berdu Idyllwild SoCal
San Berdu Idyllwild SoCal

Santa Rosa Wilderness

California Motorcycle Roads

CA motorcycle roads

These are the roads that drivers love. More room to roam, more space, more pavement, more scenery to love and less people, less drivers and less distractions. California has endless roadways that wind through every part of the entire state. If you enjoy real driving in California, you like the curvy roads & scenery. Total Escape  has dedicated numerous hours to the collection of back roads in California. Some paved, some not.

4000 RPMs or higher / Cerro Noroeste Road to Hwy 166

CALIFORNIA driving WAYS & ROADS

CALIFORNIA SCENIC HIGHWAYS & MAIN ROADS

free stickers
get your free sticker

singlelanerd

MAPS, PARKS & LINKS

see also

scenic drives
Some random road east of Trinity River

Smith River Scenic Byway

Redwoods Highway 199
Smith River Scenic Byway

also known as – US Highway 199, US Route 199 or Redwoods Highway. Del Norte County, California 

33 miles designated scenic drive; 36 miles from the Oregon border to US Hwy 101 @ Crescent City, CA

Smith River, California

The Smith River

Redwood hikes, Redwood groves, Redwood trails
River trails, fishing spots, swimming holes, forest back roads, waterfalls, campgrounds

butterfly

Areas of interest along Redwoods Hwy 199
listed from north to south

Collier Tunnel
Collier Tunnel Rest Area
(rest area)
scenic forest highway stop w/ picnic tables, grassy lawn, trash cans, restrooms; always open

Monkey Ridge Fire Lookout
Griffin Creek
Oregon Mountain Road
Packsaddle Creek
Knopti Creek
Forest Road #18N07
Middle Fork Falls

hiker

CalTrans Maintenance Yard
Idlewild, CA
Idlewild Creek

Forest Road #18N08
Forest Road #17N27
Forest Road #17N05

fish

Monkey Creek
Patrick Creek
Patrick Creek Road 316

Patrick Creek Historic Lodge
(bar, restaurant, cabins & hotel rooms)
13950 US Highway 199

Patrick Creek Campground NFS
Kelly Creek
Grassy Flat Campground NFS

Darlingtonia Botanical Trailhead

camp

Panther Flat Campground
(open all year)
coin showers, close to town
Darlingtonia, CA

Old Gasquet Toll Road 311

ranger

Gasquet Ranger Station USFS
Smith River NRA Visitor Center
10600 US Highway 199
Gasquet, CA 95543
707-457-3131

Gasquet, CA
(no gasoline)

French Hill Road 411
Old Highway South Fork – OHV
Forest Road #17N49
Hardscrabble Creek

Forks River Access & Boat Ramp

boatramp

Myrtle Beach
Myrtle Creek

Nels Christensen Memorial Bridge

Craig’s Creek Trailhead
South Fork Road 427
Douglas Park
Sheep Pen Creek

Wooden Covered Bridge

gasoline

Hiouchi, CA

Hiouchi Visitor Center & Store
1600 US Highway 199
nps.gov/places/hvcparkstore

Cedar Creek
Mill Creek

Stout Grove Trailhead
(redwoods hike)

camp

Jedediah Smith Campground
Redwoods State Park
(open all year)
bike or walk to town, park, trails, river

Rock Creek
Clarks Creek
Hiouchi Trailhead

Society Hole
(swimming hole) cliff jump & wildflowers

Templeman Grove
(redwoods hike)

hiker

Hatton Loop Trail

Simpson-Reed Trail

Walker Road Trail

Peterson Memorial Trail

Blueberry Hill Farms

Redwood Valley Farm
Kings Valley Road
Elk Valley Road

canoe

US Highway 101

Florence Keller Park
County Park & Campground

Crescent City, CA

califrepublic

Mammoth Hot Springs

secluded tub

Hot Springs near Mammoth

Eastern Sierra Destination:
June Lake and Mammoth Lakes, CA

The Eastern Sierra Nevada mountains run the length of US Highway 395, through most of the eastern side of California. Mammoth mountain is a volcano, so naturally hot springs come with the package. These hot tub destinations listed here are mostly part of the Long Valley Caldera, an ancient volcanic table land. North of Bishop and near the snow ski destination towns of June Lake and Mammoth, California in Mono County, California.

Hot Springs Dirt Road

(This region is not to be confused with Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park, nor the Mammoth Site in Hot Springs, South Dakota.)

Backroads Camping is allowed throughout Inyo National Forest, but there is private ranch lands mixed in w/ public lands. Respect property boundaries, and speed limits around gates and intersections.

Camp sites are not located next to the soaking tubs. A few may be within walking distance. Parking is often limited at these remote, public use hot pools. Total Escape TIP: Behind Lake Crowley: abundant, free camping – wide graded dirt roads (RV and passenger car suitable). Inyo National Forest Map is recommended.

Eastside of Highway 395

Casa Diablo Hot Springs near the Mammoth exit, is a location noted on most maps, but this seems to be the geothermal power plant for the region. If you are looking for hot springs tubs to soak in, you’ll need to get off the main drag for those beauties, way off the highway.

On to dirt roads

Hot Creek

Inyo Forest Road #3S45
Hot Creek Hatchery Road

(near Mammoth Airport)
Minimal dirt road driving. A very popular spot where hot springs are located within the big creek, so you can feel cold and hot water flowing by you. Scalding can occur near vents underwater, so use caution when wading. Large parking lot overlooks the soaking area and creek canyon. Swimsuits required.

Hot Creek Hot Springs: Hot Creek Geological Site

sierraminipano

Benton Crossing Road
leads east, around Lake Crowley, to the small town and camping resort and inn of Benton Hot Springs

Inyo Forest Road #2S84
Benton Crossing Road

This rural intersection at US Hwy 395 is known for the little green church on the corner. Turn east off the highway on to this road > BENTON CROSSING.

Pull over, get out and stretch. Look at your maps, get the GPS out and then start your exploring. First timers might be able to find a soaking tub within half an hour, if you don’t get lost. Or get stuck in a muddy spot, which is easy to do at night.

Hill Top Hot Springs
Latitude: 37.6642
Longitude: 118.7883
Elevation: 6873′
also known as – “Hilltop, Pulky’s Pool”

Willy’s Hot Spring
Latitude: 37.6591
Longitude: 118.8425
also known as – “Wild Willie’s, Crowley Springs”

trail to springs

Inyo Forest Road #2S07

Whitmore Tubs Road
a major graded dirt road that leads north off of the paved road, becomes Owens River Road and connects back to US 395 many miles to the north.

Several primitive hot tubs can be found on dirt roads in this region, which lead off the main paved road. At night these remote pools can be hard to find – with no signage, no street lights and pitch black darkness. Plus the mud bogs and grassy fields all around make the landscape difficult to navigate. If you plan a nighttime arrival, then plan to drive in slowly around the pools, have your GPS handy and look for steam in the air. Cut your headlights if you see other cars or people, and proceed slowly.

Be considerate of others and friendly. Do not litter. Do not crank up music. Wait for others to finish soaking and do not rush anybody. Give others space and privacy to get dressed.

Crab Cooker Hot Springs
Latitude: 37.6633
Longitude: -118.7995
Elevation: 6857′
also known as – “Fleur de Lys”

Shepard Hot Springs
Latitude: 37.6668
Longitude: -118.8025
Elevation: 6940′
also known as – “Shepard Springs”

Rock Tub Hot Springs
Latitude: 37.6474
Longitude: -118.8080
Elevation: 6990′
also known as – “The Rock Circle”

Little Hot Creek
Latitude: 37.6902
Longitude: -118.8424
Elevation: 7000′
Inyo Forest Road #3S138
high clearance vehicle required

showers

Whitmore Pool

Whitmore Hot Springs
904 Benton Crossing Road
Mono County Park w/ public swimming pool & day use fee
Phone: 760-935-4222
also known as – “Whitmore Tubs, Whitmore Springs”

Minarets at Mammoth
Minarets at Mammoth

The Backside

Inyo Forest Road #3S11
Minaret Summit Rd

This wilderness region is located the on the west side of Mammoth Mountain, accessible by the paved Minaret Summit Road, which closes due to deep snow and is generally only open during summer months.

Red’s Meadow Hot Springs

developed campground w/ wooden sheds for baths: showers & tubs.
near Devil’s Postpile National Monument
Latitude: 37.618
Longitude: 119.074
Elevation: 7000′
also known as – “Red’s Meadow Hot Showers”

Iva Bell Hot Springs
remote, wilderness; hike-in hot springs.
south of Mammoth & Rainbow Falls, via trail #2622
Latitude: 37.532
Longitude: 119.025
Elevation: 7400′
also known as – “Fish Creek Hot Springs”

califrepublic

see more primitive hot springs in California

see hot spring camps in California

see resort hot springs in California

Vallecito – Anza Borrego

Vallecito Park, San Diego Desert

Anza Borrego Desert

Great Overland Stagecoach Route of 1849

East San Diego County Road S2 winds thru the lower passes & washes of Anza Borrego Desert State Park. On the edge of the State Park boundary Vallecito is a small campground & park, but it was a stage coach route in the 1800’s.

California Historic Marker #304

Vallecito

VALLECITO STAGE STOP – A 1934 reconstruction of Vallecito Stage Station (originally built in 1852) on the eastern slopes of the mountains in the high desert. A super important stop on the first official transcontinental route, serving ‘The Jackass Mail‘, the Butterfield Overland Stage Line, and the southern emigrant caravans.

backpacking, birdwatching, camping, cycling, hiking, mountain biking, off roading, stargazing, wildflowers

camp

 

Vallecito Campground
elev. 1555′
camp sites: 44
overnight fee
first come, first serve
reservations accepted
Campfire pits, picnic tables, bathrooms, & historic buildings; 22 sites are tents only. RV 40′ limit; Additional 8 equestrian campsites w/ corrals. No RV hookups, no dump station. No piped water. No gasoline, no store, no amenities. No firewood, no collecting of firewood. No shade trees, just tall desert brush. Arrive adequately prepared for real desert roughin it.

RV

Vallecito Stage Station County Park
760-765-1188
37349 Great Southern Overland Stage Route
County Road S2 @ mile marker 34.7
About 3.5 mi NW of Agua Caliente Hot Springs

Closed during the hottest months of summer: JUNE-AUG. Open seasonally: Labor Day weekend through the fall, winter and spring, up until the last week in May. 

camptruck

see also – Oriflamme Canyon / Mason Valley Truck Trail

muck to stagecoachA neighboring and very rural stage coach stop is further down a long wash, to the south east. Getting there usually requires 4×4, since you must ford a muddy desert wash w/ creek & deep holes. There are no signs out in this sandy desert wash, so you best have a good map and a compass.

The Old Carrizo Stage Station site is accessible by 4 different dirt roads (desert washes) way off the paved highway. None of these are well signed at the highway: Vallecito Creek, Willow Creek near Mountain Palm Springs, Carrizo Creek near Bow Willow, and Canyon sin Nombre.

Agua Caliente, Bow Willow Campground, Canebrake, Sweeney Pass,  the badlands overlook, mud caves and slot canyons are all located south of Vallecito. California SR 78 and Blair Valley are north of Vallecito.

Vallecito Creek

San Diego Desert MapVallecito is located at the apex of the gap in the Carrizo Badlands created by Carrizo Creek and its wash in its lower reach, to which Vallecito Creek is a tributary. Once a seasonal village of the native Kumeyaay people, on a trail across the desert from the Colorado River, this oasis, became a crucial stopping place for Spanish and then Mexican travelers to recover from the desert crossing between Sonora and New Mexico to California. The non native settlement of the site began in 1850, as a camp with a one room sod warehouse as the U.S. Army Depot Vallecito for the supply of Fort Yuma. It was later increased in size and became a store, a stage station, and a ranch house. read more on wiki

find maps for this desert region –

Anza Borrego Desert Map

San Diego Backcountry Map

Cleveland National Forest Atlas

dark skies anza

califrepublic

Another Vallecito, California?

Yep! Small community of about 400 folks in the western Sierra Nevada  foothills. Gold Rush Country, mining region. Up off the Historic 49 and it used to be called Murphy’s Old Diggings.

see Gold Country Maps

Hole in the Ground

mill creek days

Hole in the Ground, California

Hole-in-the-Ground Campground NFS NFSlogo
Lassen National Forest
dirt road access #28N06, off Hwy 172 @ Mill Creek, CA
South of Highway 36, near jct Hwy 89hiker

• Elevation: 4,300′
• Number of Sites: 13
• Vehicle Accessibility: No trailers
• Campsite Fee: Yes
• Campsite Reservation: No
• Campsite Water: hand-pump well
• Toilet: vault
• Length of Stay: 14 Days
• Season: April – October
• Trailheads: Mill Creek Trail

Shady pines campground situated near the wild and raging Mill Creek, on the south side of Mount Lassen. Outside of the Lassen National Park, this NFS camp offers a real backwoods feel and more seclusion. Easy foot access to Mill Creek and also the Ishi Wilderness.

Picnic tables and metal campfire rings provided at these campsites. Summers can be busy, but mid week you may have the whole place to yourself. NOTE: 3 miles dirt road access Lassen Forest Road #28N06. Trailers and large RVs are not recommended on this dirt road.

campsite 8

holeinthegroundsign

campfire fish camp

nearby towns – 

Lassen National Forest NFS

Lassen National Park NPS

NFSNFS web link USDA

yet another?

Hole in the Ground, is also the name of a remote wilderness canyon deep in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Located on the Upper Kern River – in Grasshopper Flat near Hockett Peak (8551′ elev). All inside the Golden Trout Wilderness;  accessible only by horseback or hiking trail. Find it on foot @ Jerky Trailhead on National Forest Road# 22S82

driftwood

holes_in_rock
Hole in the Rock

holeinrockbackside
Backside Hole in the Wall, Mojave NP

Hole in the Wall, California

Similarly named, Hole in the Wall Campground is a popular spot in the Mojave National Preserve. Group facilities, horse corrals, developed campgrounds, centrally located, yet close to Interstate 40.

Stop by the “Hole in the Wall” Information Center (760) 252-6104, for more info and maps. The most popular hike, the Ring Trail, will leads thru rock face (above) to the campground on Black Canyon Road, on the other side of this huge rock wall.

Mid Hills Campground (nearby) has better choice on secluded camping, but rougher road to access. Mojave desert has abundant camping, so there is plenty space for everyone!

mojavehikes
Mojave Hikes @ Hole in the Wall


Zink Trail 21N78

Plumas National Forest
Trail #21N78

Before and After Photo

Straw Swipe

21N78before21N78after

Trailhead at Top of Zink Road in Berry Creek, California
This route is Straw Rd on GoogleMaps

In summer 2017 this trail from Zink saddle to the Big Bald Rock was so dense and overgrown that I only made it half a mile, before I quit and turned back.

SEPT 8, 2020 #BearFire cleared it all in one night.

21N78straw

Kaiser Wilderness

China Peak Hiking
Hiking near China Peak – summer 2002

22,700 acres
Kaiser Pass Road
Sierra National Forest

2020 wildfire: CREEK FIRE
has burnt the majority of this wilderness, roads, trails, lake shores and most campgrounds

Central Sierra Nevada Mountains/ Kaiser Pass & Kaiser Peak / Highway 168

One of the best cell phone coverage areas for any California Wilderness location, this central Sierra region is located south of Yosemite National Park and known primarily for Shaver Lake.

California Hwy 168, along with Dinkey Creek Road (southward) and Kaiser Pass Road (northward) leads off in all splintered directions to secluded campsites, rivers, creeks, lakes, developed campgrounds and amazing forest scenery. Off road trails and hiking trails, everywhere back here! But it is best to have several good maps for cross reference.

This Sierra National Forest region includes all hydroelectric dams and lakes surrounding Shaver and Huntington Lake, including Florence Lake, Ward Lake, Edison Lake, Mammoth Pool, Courtright Reservoir and Wishon Reservoir.

Dusy Ershim Trail 4×4 travels past Kaiser Peak and the cell phone towers. Several primitive camp sites with views on ridge. Numerous developed NFS Campgrounds out this way along Kaiser Pass Road.

Trailheads for horseback, hiking, backpackers, mountaineers, rock climbers. Snowmobiles love this amazing route when the snow is deep; some west coast winters can be better than others. Know before you go!

Kaiser Wilderness are granite mountain peaks, near Huntington Lake & the China Peak ski resort, formerly called Sierra Summit Ski;  One lane narrow backcountry paved roads: Kaiser Pass Road 80 (east of Huntington Lake) and Stump Springs Road 5 is West Kaiser (west of Huntington Lake)

Views in 2002
Sierra Views in 2002

WhiteFir Camp
White Fir Campsite

China Peak Hike Map
China Peak Hike w/ Map

hiker

Sierra National Forest

Kaiser Pass Road, elevation 9184′

25 mph – pothole paved, barely maintained one lane road, 20+ miles. Kaiser Pass is closed in winter months, but accessible by snow-mobile.

snowmo

recreation –
sierra National Forest map

  • backpacking
  • camping
  • creeks
  • cross country ski
  • fishing
  • hiking
  • lakes
  • mountain biking
  • mountaineering
  • picnicking
  • rock climbing
  • rivers
  • snow mobiling
  • snow skiing

Sierra Topo Maps

Sierra Map Tom Harrison
Sierra NF Map USDA
Kaiser Wilderness Map
Ansel Adams Wilderness USDA
Ansel Adams Trail Map
Dinkey Lakes Wilderness USDA
Dinkey Lakes Trail Map
John Muir Trail Maps
Mono Divide High Country
NatGeo Mono / Mammoth Map

surrounding wilderness and forest lands –

Ansel Adams Wilderness
Dinkey Lakes Wilderness
Inyo National Forest
John Muir Wilderness
Kings Canyon NP
Sierra National Forest
Yosemite National Park

National Forest & Wilderness Permits –

USDA Sierra NF

More Kaiser Wilderness Info & Links –

sierrawild.gov/wilderness/kaiser
summitpost.org/kaiser-peak
Kaiser Wilderness Wiki
San Joaquin River
Don’t Tell Anyone Campsites
Mono Hot Springs

kaiserpass
View from Kaiser Pass Trail – Huntington Lake in far back left

 

21S94 – Sequoia NF

sequoia groves

Sequoia Groves: Forest Rd# 21S94
Sequoia National Forest

Windy Gap

SEPT 2021: Closed due to the Windy Fire

This impressive backcountry route is inside the newly formed Giant Sequoia National Monument. From the Western Divide Highway this graded route leads from an area North of the Trail of 100 Giants to the back edge of the Tule Indian Reservation. The 20 mile route turns north towards Coy Flat Campground (20 spots @ 5000′) & then meets up with Camp Nelson, California.

The Summit National Recreation Trail cuts right thru this region & there are many dirt roads meandering off of the main route# 21S94.

There are a few hidden Sequoia groves back here, great for day trips & picnic spots:

  • Peyrone Grove (via road# 22S91)
  • South Peyrone Grove (via road# 22S03 & trail #31E41)
  • Red Hill Grove

hiker

pinetree

nearby towns:

14S11 – Sequoia NF

trails to meadow

Big Meadows Road: Sequoia Forest Rd# 14S11

SEPT 2021: Closed due to the KNP Complex Fire

GIANT SEQUOIA: in between Sequoia & Kings Canyon, inside Sequoia NF

Sequoia Meadows

This chunk of National Forest land is perfectly located in between 2 very popular National Parks – Kings Canyon and Sequoia. This primary paved road leads to some great camping, a perfect option for NOT camping inside the crowed National Parks.

Turn east off of Sequoia ‘Generals Highway’ 198, on to the well signed Big Meadow Rd. There is primitive camping all over this area & a few developed campgrounds along this route. Motorhomes be warned: the road narrows to one lane with no “turn outs” or U turn spots for the last 10 miles (on a steep cliff w/ large overhanging rocks)

SEE CAMPING PHOTOS

campIn the first few miles, the dispersed camp sites on the right side have great views & some situated on fairly flat granite slabs, perfect for astronomer campers or adventurous RVs. To the left side of the road is more primitive style campsites in wooded areas. The whole area is also a very popular cross country ski & snowmobiling spot for winter recreation. Hunters also like these camps during hunting season (in September).

horseback

There is a developed Horse Camp on the left side of the road for equestrian campers. This camp is located across from the biggest meadow and may be the first place you notice on this drive.


Buck Rock Campground
(7600′ elevation, 5 spots) & Big Meadows Campground (7600′ elevation, 25 spots) are both family style camps, perfect for those who want picnic tables, plus bathroom nearby. Sorry no flush toilets out here, only pit toilets.

 

Sequoia maps

Buck Rock Fire Lookout Tower @ 8500′ elevation – is located to the north on Forest Rd # 14S02. It’s a great spot for some impressive views – if you aren’t afraid of heights. To reach the tower you must climb several flights of steel steps. This place is worth a stop if planning a sightseeing day.

Big Meadows Guard Station @ 7500′ elevation (also known as Big Meadows Cabin), is located next to the BIG MEADOW and is available for rent on a weekend basis from the NFS. Hiking Jennie Lakes Wilderness and fly fishing Big Meadows Creek are favorite activities to be enjoyed.

Big Meadows Road is long & narrow – 12+ miles. RVs are not recommended beyond the Big Meadow Campground, as the road is one lane in some spots & it skirts a cliff edge. The views are incredible the farther you go & many creeks feed the region.

The narrow, long paved road eventually forks off into several smaller dirt roads back near Horse Corral Meadow. Way back here, the dirt roads lead out to trail heads for backpacking, horse packing or day hiking in Jennie Lakes & Monarch Wilderness. Backcountry access to either Sequoia or Kings Canyon National Park! Have a good map if you plan to venture out this far. Pay attention & don’t get lost.

GPS would be helpful in this area. Some of the smaller of the dirt roads are not even on the NFS maps. Make sure to GPS way-point your favorite camp site, so you can find in next time…. in the dark.

Sequoia National Forest

Sequoia National Forest MAP

nearby services:

Sequoia Groves

see all – Big Meadows in California 

Marvin Pass Trailhead

Closed Indefinitely

UPDATE SEPT 20, 2021
California National Forests, most have re-opened.
See Sequoia Wildfires & Closures

pinetree

Twenty five years ago, when I began this outdoor web site for California, did I ever imagine ‘times like these’ – where we would be held up inside our homes during summer, as annual wildfires destroyed our vast and beautiful forests. Frightened to breathe the toxic, smokey air outside. Saddened by news of yet another town or historic structure burning to the ground. Checking the destruction daily online, in hopes of more containment, fresh photos or any good report.

Now I fear Total Escape  may become photographic documentation of how beautiful California once was.

burnt forest

wildfire closures

Most California National Forest are currently closed!

Lassen Volcanic National Park is CLOSED due to damages from the Dixie Fire.

In case you missed it: 2020 was the worst year for wildland fires in California history, but 2021 is shaping up to be just as bad. Many forests, roads, trails, campgrounds and parks listed below have been closed to the public for the 2021 season, and possibly longer.

BIG SUR COAST
Julia Pfeiffer Burns SP
Prewitt Ridge
Nacimiento Road
Lucia Restaurant
Tassajara Canyon

SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS
Big Basin Redwoods SP
Butano Redwoods SP
Boulder Creek, CA

NORTHERN CALIF
Armstrong Redwoods SP
Austin Creek SRA
Mendocino National Forest
Lake Berryessa
Mad River / Ruth Lake
Forest Glen, CA
Salmon River
Six River National Forest
Snow Mountain Wilderness
Yolla Bolly Wilderness
Lassen National Forest
Lassen Volcanic National Park
Caribou Wilderness
Lake Almanor
Feather River (North Fork)
Susan River (near Caribou)
Trinity Alps Wilderness
Trinity River (W of Weaverville)

SIERRA NEVADA
Alta Sierra
Balch Park

Berry Creek, CA
Bucks Lake, CA
Butte Meadows
Caldor
Consumnes River
Dinkey Creek
Eldorado National Forest
Feather River (Middle Fork)
Huntington Lake, CA
Indian Valley
Greenville, CA
Mammoth Pool Reservoir
Mountain Home Sequoia
Plumas National Forest
Sequoia National Forest
Sierra National Forest
Shaver Lake, CA
Shirley Meadows
Silver Fork
Western Divide Highway
22N82 Forks of the Kern

aftermath
Camp Okizu

camp

Expect that campfire rules will be tighter in the future, overall. Campfires will likely be restricted to ‘only inside developed campgrounds’. Or only allowed during the wet season on the backroads or in the backcountry.

campfire

hazmat
My Front Yard (literally)

*Unfortunately, this is not a complete list of all the closures inside California parks and forests. I am adding more to this list, as more places burn. This page is a work in progress for autumn 2021

58 counties
58 Counties in Calif

22S82 – Sequoia NF

Forks of the Kern: Forest Rd# 22S82 – Lloyds Meadow Road
Jerky Meadow Trailhead, Sequoia National Forest

SEPT 2021: Closed due to the Windy Fire

Driving north on Sierra Hwy N of Kernville, California; Passing Fairview & the Johnsondale bridge; After the R Ranch @ Johnsondale, take the right fork off the main highway, which goes deep into Kern River Gorge. This narrow & winding paved road skirts the Upper Kern River Gorge & the impressive Rincon Fault. Numerous primitive camp site can be found on dirt roads off this paved route. The pavement dead ends at Jerky Meadow trail head, which accesses the Golden Trout Wilderness & the Great Western Divide. Backpackers can get to the high country Sierra Nevada & Mineral King in Sequoia National Park from these trails.

Forks of the Kern

Boy Scout Camp Whitsett is one of the first places you pass, near Sentinel Peak.

The Western Divide Hwy runs parallel to road 22S82; way up above it @ 7000′ elevation – with destinations like Dome Rock & the Needles (2 very cool granite features) that overlook this Kern Gorge. The small community of Ponderosa, CA is also up there, along with the quaking aspen groves & the Trail of 100 Giants. Forest Rd# 22S02 connects paved route 22S82 to the Giant Sequoia highway above.

There are many primitive camp areas way above Kern River Gorge – all located on the right side of this road 22S82. Look for small signs for CAMP AREA #1-6. Camps 1-3 are great for RV campers with creeks & dense forests. Long Meadow Creek is one of the first of many streams, you will cross as driving this paved, winding, canyon route. Camp areas #4, 5, & 6 are the best bet for seclusion, plus awesome hiking trails to falls, granite pools & the impressive Kern gorge. Swimming holes are plentiful. Fishing can be decent at times. Many waterfalls can be found in this region as the tributary streams fall towards the deep granite gorge in the Sierra Nevada range. All roads off of 22S82 are dirt roads & most are passenger car accessible. Wetter months could be challenging. Some routes back here are considered to be 4×4 routes tho, so know your vehicles limitations. High clearance is needed to reach some camp sites. Summers can be busy.

This area was burnt from recent wildfires in 2002-2005, but the primitive, dispersed campsites near the streams are full of vegetation & making a nice comeback. Alder Creek runs down from the Sequoias, into Dry Meadow Creek nearby.

Lower Peppermint Campground @ 5300′ elevation, on the west side of the road, is the only developed camp ground on this main forest road. Lower Peppermint has 17 spots, piped water, & picnic tables. Peppermint Meadows & Peppermint Creek are adjacent to the camp area.

Lloyd Meadows @ Sequoia Forest Road# 20S67 – is the Forks of the Kern Trailhead & the dirt road that accesses it, is very popular among equestrian campers. Freeman Creek joins Lloyd Meadows Creek near Pyles Camp. There is a small developed campground called “Forks of the Kern”. Steep trail leads down to the granite gorge where Little Kern River meets the main Kern River; Rattlesnake Creek & Ninemile Creek also join the Kern River in this 10 mile stretch. Kern Hot Springs requires a backpacking trip.

Sequoia National Forest

Sequoia National Forest MAP

GOLDEN TROUT Wilderness MAP USDA
GOLDEN TROUT MAP (Tom Harrison)

Closest small towns are:

Roxie Peconom Campground

Lassen Forest Road #29N03
Roxie Peconom Camp

Roxie Peconom

MAIDU INDIANS: Roxie was a native medicine woman and lived over 100 years in these parts. Read more here

AUG 2021: Closed due to the Dixie Fire

Wild onions were found along the top of Thompson, Diamond, Eagle Lake, Willard, and Mountain Meadows.

Lassen National Forest – W of Susanville, CA

This pine forest is home to the developed NFS campground – which has been named after the tribal elder. The camp location is a sacred spot to the local native tribes. Just above Susanville, CA on the west side, south of the highway; forested w/ creeks and aspen groves. Autumn colors can be found in the creek beds.

Dirt roads all over the place, leading to far away destinations like Diamond Mountain, Antelope Lake and Taylorsville. The backcountry region was recently damaged by wildfires: 2020 Sheep Fire and now the Dixie Fire 

pinetree

FREE CAMPING – W Susanville, CA
en route camp

Less than 3 miles of dirt road #29N03 driving will get you back off the highway and into this forest, Hwy 36 W of Susanville. Bring the mountain bike for abundant usage and a week of exploring.

Only 13 miles to downtown Susanville, via the back road. Chaney Creek Road is a main dirt road near Highway 36, which parallels the river, the red rock bluff and the road, downhill into town.

This FREE campground is popular with the hipcampers and pediums – and gets rave reviews; small RV campers do like to use this camp spot, if they don’t mind a little dirt road driving; they’ll need to park in the dirt parking lot, 40+ feet away (not adjacent to the picnic tables or fire rings).

  • camping

  • ceremony

  • drum circle

  • fishing

  • hiking

  • horseback trails

  • hunting

  • mountain bike

  • off road trails

Roxie Circle
Bear Dance Circle @ Roxie

roxie seating

walk in campground, and close to town

hiker

Shady Campground

Walk-In Campsites @ Roxie

AUG 2021 – CLOSED due to the Dixie Fire

Roxie P Campground
Susanville, CA – Lassen NFNFSlogo

• Elevation: 4,800′
• Number of Sites: 10 (walk-in only)
• Vehicle Accessibility: any
• Campsites Reservation: No
• Campsite Fee: No
• Length of Stay: 14 Days
• Season: open all year
• Trailheads: Diamond Peak

 

shadycamp

Flat forest and easy to walk. Shade and pine needles, picnic tables and group fire pits. All facilities are encompassed with a  sturdy wooden, fence line. No RV or trailer access to camp sites. Mountain bikers like this spot and so do horseback riders. Travelers passing through eastern California will welcome the convenient location, plus the ease of dirt road.

The Roxie Camp is situated near Willard Creek on the south side of the Highway 36, close to Susanville. Willard is a feeder stream into the Susan River, which flows into town.  Quiet camp, most of the time. If a big family is camping here w/ children, or there is a tribal gathering, it could get loud.

PLAN B –  head over to Goumaz Campground NFS, due north. Located in between, near the junction of Hwy 38 & 44. Near the railroad tracks and the Susan River. Smaller camp near the NRT (National Recreation Trail), the  Biz Johnson Trail (BLM).
2021, this camp is CLOSED!

so find someplace else: PLAN C
(make sure any camp is open by calling rangers before traveling).

Fire Lookout hike near Milford Grade

Susanville Hiking Trails PDF
BLM Southside Trails
mountain bike, hike, horseback

aspenroxie
Aspen trees at Roxie in Autumn

dirtbikes

off road Susanville

OHV activity may be passing the developed campground, but are discouraged – due to the layout of camp. Plenty spots for ‘froaders further out – at the end of the road. Way back there!

Jeeps, 4×4 trucks, quads, dirt bikes, anglers and hunters travel these dirt back roads, as well as rangers, campers, horses, mountain bikes, and big logging trucks. 25 mph slow is always best. Daytime headlights help you get seen in the shadows. Forest is dense and road conditions are ever changing.

Forest Road #29N03 is Gold Run Road, the bumpy dirt road – that skirts around Diamond Mountain on the south side. Lots of one single track or one-lane dirt roads, which will require a National Forest map or a decent topo map to navigate properly.

OHV is common in these areas, but not so busy at this camp. If you seek peace and quiet and solitude, know how to read a map and where the noise is expected to be. Avoid the OHV areas, if you want to nap in the hammock and read a book.

Wild red necks with guns live in NorCal, so pay close attention to property lines and trespassing signs.

ranger

USFS Ranger Station is located on the west side, just outside of town, on the wide downhill grade on the highway @ the Eagle Lake turnoff. Cal Fire station is also located along this stretch of road.

Lassen National Forest
Ranger Station USFS

CA-36 @ Eagle Lake Rd
Susanville, CA 96130
530-257-4188

Cal Fire Station
697 CA-36, Susanville, CA 96130
530-257-4171

fish

NEARBY TOWNS:

Chester, CA
Lake Almanor, CA
Susanville, CA
Westwood, CA

Susan River is nearby, but not really walking distance from Roxie Camp

eagleclouds
Large Eagle Lake, N of Susanville, CA

32S13 – Los Padres NF

Sierra Madre Road
Sierra Madre Ridge, San Rafael Wilderness

Los Padres National Forest
Forest Road #32S13

off of Cuyama Valley Hwy 166

32S13 Sierra Madre Road

East of Santa Maria, CA – along Highway 166 (on the south side of the pavement) are several dirt roads that lead up to the main ridge road that access this part of Los Padres National Forest.

  • backpacking
  • camping
  • dirt bike trails
  • dirt roads
  • hiking
  • horse camping
  • mountain biking
  • off road routes
  • petroglyhs
  • wildflowers

4WD not required, but high clearance is helpful. Open almost all year. Rainy season gate closures (at hwy) during winter months.

4x4

dirtbikes

cruiseronridge

Sierra Madre Mountains

Miranda Pine Mountain (elev. 4120′)
Timber Peak (elev. 4754′)
Peak Mountain (elev. 5843′)
McPherson Peak (elev. 5749′)
Samon Peak (elev. 6221′)

Sierra Madre Ridge is forest road #32S13, which parallels Hwy 166 (Cuyama River) for over 50 miles on the Sierra Madre Ridge at approx. 5000 feet elevation.

NOTE: A good stretch of this dirt road is closed to vehicle traffic. Although it connects to Santa Barbara Canyon near Ventucopa, you cannot drive it. Only hike or mountain bike!

Hog Pen Sign

NFS Gate locked at the HOG PEN trailhead, and from there you can bike or walk all the way the other end at Santa Barbara Canyon near Cuayama Fire Lookout @ Dick Smith Wilderness

Still Standing

camp

Small campgrounds in the region:

off Highway 166
Miranda Pine Campground (on 32S13 @ 11N03)
Bates Canyon Campground (via Cottonwood Canyon Rd)
also known as White Oaks Campground
Aliso Canyon Campground (via Aliso Canyon Road)
not accessible by vehicle, from dirt road 32S13; only by trail

in the backcountry
Painted Rock Camp (hike-in)
Sycamore Camp (hike-in)

high clearance, off road accessible
Horseshoe Springs (11N04)
Lazy Campground (11N04)
Wagon Flat Campground (11N03)
Barrel Springs (10N06)
Colson Canyon (11N04)

wildflower

coastridges

Highway 166 Cuyama River Valley
EAST San Luis Obispo County

Wildflowers Bloom: APRIL-MAY

mayflowers

redflora

San Rafael Wilderness

Sisquoc River
Native Rock Art
Sierra Madre Mountains

Rock Art Sign

MAPS of the Area:

hiker

Los Padres USFS MAP
Los Padres Topo Atlas
Los Padres West NatGeo Map
Dick Smith Wilderness Map

sisquocriver6nearby destinations: 

Cuyama Peak Fire Lookout
New Cuyama, CA

Rock Front Ranch 4×4
Santa Maria, CA
Ventucopa, CA

7N23 – Angeles NF

wildflowers angeles

Foothills: North Los Angles County

I-5 Freeway Close, Camping on Dirt Road

Angeles National Forest extends far north of Santa Clarita, CA. Way up Interstate 5, almost to Tejon Pass (4144′ elev). On the west side of the freeway is Los Padres National Forest and on the opposite side is Angeles National Forest. Both sides have abundant off roading and dirt roads, trails and camping areas.

4x4

A few developed campgrounds exist along I-5, but who really wants to camp out and listen to the freeway traffic? This route is a skinny dirt road, leading out to small remote campgrounds, often visited by off roaders. No facilities and no running water; you’ll be lucky if the picnic table isn’t shot up. Simple, bare bones, middle of nowhere for L.A. County.

Forest Road # 7N23

Long dirt road that begins at Three Points Road, off of Hwy 138 – the Antelope Valley freeway which connects the Grapevine and Tejon Pass @  I-5 to the Mojave Highway 14 out east.

USDA National Forest Map is advised, a high clearance vehicle is recommended – and free time needed to enjoy such a spot. 4WD may be needed during snow and really wet weather.

PCT access

pctThe ever popular Pacific Crest Trail passes by this small NFS campground listed below. Backpackers, horse packers, dirt bikes and truck campers can all access this dirt road, but be warned it is WAY OUT THERE.

snow

Yes, it snows up here (very infrequently) – terrain elevations range from 1000-5000′ around this region. Basic note: if Interstate 5 has snow warnings, this small, backcountry dirt road will get winter weather too. And sometimes that can be significant, during JAN-MARCH.  If more than a few inches of snow are predicted, you best have a 4×4 and/or snow chains.

  • camping
  • dirt roads
  • hiking
  • off roading
  • wildflowers

wildflower

Wildflowers bloom in April, and will need a decent amount of winter rain/snow to display the vivid colors. This area is not too far from the California Poppy Reserve in the Antelope Valley.

Hungry Valley SVRA is a large, popular off road park, located to the north. On the edge of the Los Padres National Forest  @ the GORMAN exit.

camp

Bear Campground
[2021 CLOSED, due to wildfire from 2020]

open all year
elevation: 5400′

7 camp sites
no toilets
no water
no fee

Oak trees, sage, chaparral w/ wide open sky views. Picnic tables, fire rings and fresh air. Well spaced sites, with lots of room to spread out. OHV trucks & trailers do frequent this spot, so be warned.

Far from everything, so no impromptu beer runs to the mini -market. Bring everything you will need for any overnight stay, including ice, food, drinking water, washing water, and campfire water. LOTS of water is always good. No creeks flow year round. Summer and autumn can be very hot in these hills.

road7N23

nearby destinations:

camptruck