Category Archives: Off Road

Mortero Wash

Anza Borrego Desert State Park / Mortero Wash

San Diego Desert Camping

xterrayellow

Primitive desert camping close to SD – yipee!

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

The large morterro boulders 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 surrounding the big boulders too. No toilets; no shade; no water; minimal vegetation. At night the stars are heavenly, but you can see city lights from Calexico and Mexicali. From the boulder you can hike or mountain bike up to the “old goat trestle” and numerous historic train tunnels @ Carizo Gorge (not to be confused w/ Carizo Plains in Kern Co). Moderate hike, all day adventure. Bring lunch and water!

SAN DIEGO Backcountry Map
this waterproof map has the entire State Park covered

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 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 the (NativeAmerican) Indian grinding holes.

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, but I will add that later). 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 State Park.

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

Fouts Springs

fout springsFouts Springs California

dirtbikes

2018 Mendo Complex Wildfire has affected this area. Expect some closures on trails and roads.

Stonyford Recreation Area
USFS Grindstone Ranger District
Mendocino National Forest

roadtofouts
Paved Road M10, Mendo National Forest

Fouts Campground NFS

Lat – 39° 21′ 35.05307″
Long – 122° 39′ 07.87442″

4x4

OHV

off highway vehicle use is abundant

Fouts Springs is multi-use recreation area on the east side of Mendocino National Forest. Located near the Snow Mountain Wilderness trailhead, this region is popular with the off-roaders and dirt bikers. Expect some noise if camping overnight on a weekend.

Excellent picnic spots along creek in springtime. Wildflowers bloom March-May. Campfire restrictions may begin as early as July, so know current fire conditions.

fouts water

fouts camp

camp

campground elev spots veg toilet water notes
Davis Flat Campground 1700′ 20 mixed vault no OHV + RV trailers
Fouts Campground 1700′ 11 mixed vault piped OHV trails
Little Stony Campground 1500′ 8 pines vault no OHV trails
Mill Creek Campground 1700′ 5 mixed yes no OHV trails
South Fork Campground 1700′ 4 mixed vault creek Stony Creek

Spring Fouts MendoFouts campgrounds are located on the EAST SIDE of Mendo NF on paved road M10. Situated below 2000′ elevation and open year round.

Road M10 Mendo
Road M10 Mendocino

TRAVELERS NOTE: Tent campers, RV and truck campers can easily access this area, all paved roads. Exit Williams or Willows on I-5 and head west. A decent back country map or Mendocino National Forest Map is advised; Numerous canyons, forested creeks and campgrounds. Always check with Mendocino National Forest for road closures and conditions.

dirt bike crossing

OFF-ROADERS NOTE: Use caution on paved access road M10, especially when driving with trailers or large RVs. Narrow road, long and winding with blind curves and no guard rails. Always check with Mendocino National Forest for road closures and trail conditions.

4x4

Mendocino Ranger Stations can be found on link below

NFSMendocino National Forest

foutspicnic

picnic

wildflower

Keyesville Classic Bike Race

Jerry in the RACE

Keyesville Classic Race

Mountain bike races are few & far in between, so Total Escape is here to promote them. This is one of the longest running races, near Lake Isabella, along the Kern River.

The All Mountain, Down country, Gravel, Vintage, XC, Downhill, Enduro Event or the year.

Up to 500+ bikes in competition w/ various classes. Downhill, cross country & short track. Presented by the Southern Sierra Fat Tire Association. 30+ years running, so we know it’s very popular. Annual event held in the Springtime.

Annual event; April

LAKE ISABELLA, CA

KERNVILLE CA

keyesvilleclassicmtb.com

 

CierraKeys1

JDKey1

California 4×4 Club

4WD clubs / 4×4 off road / 4×4 vehicles / 4×4 club

California has no shortage of 4 wheel drive vehicles, but how many of them actually use them for what they were intended? If you’ve had your 4WD for a while and are itching to get to know the local trails, then grab yourself a few good OHV maps & head for the hills.
If you are a total novice and think you might want to get familiar with routes, what your vehicle can and cannot do, and learn the ropes from the pros, then you might want to discover the friendly folks in your local 4×4 club. Below we list as many legitimate groups we can find, with or without web sites. If your club is not listed, then please contact us & we might add it.
anzawashes
Anza Borrego Desert Washes

Off roaders (with running rigs) can enjoy pre-planned back road trips with various 4×4 Groups in California:

The very best place to start searching for 4WD routes inside California — is right here on Total Escape. After you’ve narrowed it down to a general location, then buying a decent topo map is a necessity. We have extensive sections devoted to California back roads, SUV interests, OHV Parks, off road tour guides, and of course, offroad trail maps.

califrepublic

Giant Sequoias
Hidden Sequoia Groves, Western Divide

 

4WD clubs
4×4 Camps @ Los Padres National Forest

DanaMite’s dirt roads list

4x4

Lake Davis

Baker Creek
Upper Baker Creek, Inyo NF – 4×4 Camp

Desert Safari 4×4

Tierra del Sol 4×4 Event

Forty-something years running, this San Diego county desert 4×4 event is one of the most popular off-roading weekends. Tierra Del Sol, a local 4 wheel drive club sponsors this wheelin fest in Southern California.

Held near the small community of Ocotillo Wells, near Truckhaven Hills – east of Anza Borrego Desert State Park

Annual event;  March
BORREGO SPRINGS CA

tdsdesertsafari.com

4x4

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

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

 

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

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

Off-Road Expo

L.A. off road expo
L.A. off road expo

Off-Road Expo, Pomona

L.A. Off Road Expo

This one is a huge deal in the Los Angeles area. 4×4 extremes – in every direction. Tons of offroad industry vendors, displays, demos, and custom rigs and hot chicks in skimpy shirts for your viewing pleasure. Drool over every suspension, roll cage and locker. Lucas Oils is the big sponsor and this event is held annually, Family Events off road expo, summertime, air conditioning, in gorgeous Pomona.

Annual event: October

Pomona, near Los Angeles, California

offroadexpo.com

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)

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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

Creek Campground

Creek Campground California

creek camps California

Car campers in Southern California dream of the perfect setting: an uncrowded campsite, in a lush forest, with tall trees & flowing stream of crystal clear water. A swimming hole nearby, plus a place for the hammock. They also want it less than a 2 hours drive from their home. Unlikely.

The real California rivers & mountains are in the northern half of the state, while the lower is more like a desert. You will need to drive hours to reach these kinda spots. The Sierra Nevada mountains are the closest bet for finding a creek side camp. Lassen is next, for exploring numerous dirt roads that lead to secluded spots. Northern California, above Redding usually has water flowing and decent fishing, even in the driest years.

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Read more on specific California camping techniques:

Steamside Camping

Biodegradable Camp Soaps

Environmental Camping

Creek Maps

camp groundsDeveloped campgrounds located next to rivers, creeks, or streams can be found on the back roads of California. Below is just a sample of small towns that have creek campgrounds nearby:

primitive campsMany of the best creek camp spots are located outside of developed Campgrounds. Most we suggest on this site are located on dirt roads. Some routes may require a 4×4 vehicle, or high clearance 2WD.

stream campingNOTE: you will need a good map. Topographic or National Forest maps

thin blue lines – You’ll know a decent road when you see it. But when you are starting out at home, you need to concentrate of what dirt roads are along what water sources. And will these streams be flowing at this time of year? Many are seasonal creeks & can dry up in late summer. The most likely place to find great water flow is to look for the streams flowing directly into a major river or Lake/ Reservoir.

cabin campingAnd if you are really not into to roughing it, but wanna find a CABIN on RIVER or CREEK, check out our extensive list of all vacation cabins here, California Cabin Rentals

holeinthegroundsign
Lassen Camping near a creek in Northern California

Baker Creek
Upper Baker Creek, Inyo NF – 4×4 Camp

vanlifenorcal
Van Life, on McCloud Creek @ Algoma

Rock Front Ranch

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Rock Front OHV

San Luis Obispo County Off Roading
Los Padres National Forest

Rock Front Area is located on the north side of Hwy 166 in between New Cuyama and Nipomo, on the very edge of San Luis Obispo county in the center of the Santa Lucia Ranger District of Los Padres National Forest.  Landscape varies from rock covered canyons to ridge line trails with outstanding vistas of the the mountains and Cuyama Valley. Remote area features Los Machos Hills, Alder Creek, Branch Creek, Cuyama River, cool rock formations.

15,328 acres
41 miles of trails

From US Hwy 101 @ Hwy 166 travel east 25 miles, left turn into Rock Front Ranch gate on left side. (This road may also be known as Branch Creek Rd on some maps). This off road area can be closed during rainy seasons, so it is best to call rangers ahead of time to ensure the gates are open. There is also one brown Forest Service sign along gate10mileshighway 166, (couple of miles from 101)  letting eastbound traffic know if this OHV area is open or closed.

The dirt Road #32S07 (Arroyo Seco) from the west connecting historic Huasna townsite to Rock Front is CLOSED to thru traffic and has a locked gate. Private properties and ranches are abundant in the backcountry of Arroyo Grande, CA

Los Padres National Forest
Santa Lucia Ranger
805-925-9538

vistas

Rock Front Ranch Campgrounds

Off Road Trails in Rock Front Ranch

OHV trail ratings in this region are designated below
Rock Front OHV

  • Green diamond – easy & least difficult
  • Blue diamond – moderate & more difficult
  • Black diamond – extreme & most difficult

Logan Ridge Trail #17E05
Green diamond. Least difficult. Open to motorcycles, ATVS, 4WD. 1.4 miles long. This route is a good route for beginning riders. It is located on the main ridge top of Logan Ridge. Route dead-ends at a locked gate.

Shaw Ridge Trail #17E06
Black diamond. Most difficult. Open to motorcycles, ATVS, 4WD. 8 miles long. This route leaves the Twin Rocks route on a spur ridge that drops into the Alamo Creek drainage and dead-ends. A very steep section of trail exists at the end of this route where specialized equipment is recommended. This section is recommended for advanced riders.

maps Los Machos Trail #17E07
Green diamond. Least difficult. Open to motorcycles, ATVS, 4WD. 2.8 miles long. This route is a good route for beginning riders. It is located on the main ridge top of the Los Machos Hills. Route dead-ends at a locked gate.

Paradise Trail #17E08
Blue diamond. More difficult. Open to motorcycles, ATVS, 4WD. 2 miles long. Access to Paradise Campground and Los Machos route. It is best suited for intermediate riders due to a steep section along the route. Route dead-ends at a locked gate.

Branch Creek Trail #17E09
Blue diamond. More difficult. Open to motorcycles, ATVS, 4WD. 5.5 miles long. Access to Buck Springs Campground, parallels the Big Rock route and offers a loop ride.

Big Rocks Trail #17E10
Blue diamond. More difficult. Open to motorcycles, ATVS, 4WD. 4 miles long. Located on the main ridge top and intersects with the Jack Springs route.

Twin Rocks Trail #17E12
Blue diamond. More difficult. Open to motorcycles, ATVS, 4WD. 3.5 miles long. This route intersects Shaw Ridge and dead-ends at a locked gate. The first half-mile of this trail is steep. Once on top of the ridge you have excellent views of the Cuyama Valley and the Santa Lucia Range.

Kerry Canyon Trail #30W02
Black diamond. Most difficult. For motorcycles only. 6 miles long. This trail must be accessed through Colson Canyon or Sierra Madre. The trail is highly technical and is recommended for advanced motorcycle riders only.

HORSE TRAINING – Along the highway at the gate of Rock Front Ranch is a rock house and ranch, which may or may not offer equine services.