An avenue made of dirt, earthen highways, dirt trails, forest roads, fire roads, jeep road, graded roads. Dirt driving trails that lead into the middle of nowhere. No stop signs, no billboards, no stores, no one else around… for miles. Enjoy less crowds and more open space.
If you are fed up with city life, sitting in traffic & need to vacate your mind among the barren hills of California (if only for a weekend), then Total Escape is your place. You seek solitude, peace, maybe a mini tailgate party & BBQ on a dry lake bed, with the heavenly stars above. Imagine the warm camp fire light reflecting off the high canyon walls, your music echoing, moonlight hikes for a few miles.
California has some awesome spots to drive on dirt, get way back in nature. Right up to the edge of the Wilderness boundary. That’s what this one silly “dirt street” page is all about… helping you get out there, the easiest & best way possible. We even got you the right maps!
Back Roads in California
The End of Dirt Roads
California OHV Maps
Most of this is just dirt road driving, graded, some hills, easy stuff. But on occasion you might come across a 4×4 required sign – or perhaps a triple black diamond trail. Having several good maps on hand will help you enjoy these roads, instead of stressing & wondering if there is a lock gate at the other end – 18 miles in.
Some dirt streets lead to campgrounds, some to waterfalls, some to viewpoints, some have loop options & others are just dead end; sometimes at old mines. Get ready to explore with your truck or SUV. 2WD or low clearance vehicles (such as passenger cars) should be ready to turn back if the road get too nasty. Any decent precipitation can make any unpaved road much worse & may require 4 wheel drive, so have a plan B or C as a backup idea.
Best off road areas & parks in California:
Tooling around Goler Wash & Barker Ranch on the very edge of Death Valley
Mammoth Mountain Lakes / Eastern Sierra Fishing
Sure splendor for fishing, most of the time. Lake fishing, stream fishing, river fishing. Fishing the Eastern Sierra area, near Mammoth Lakes, California can be very rewarding. You may have read about places like these in the sports magazines, seen them on a television program, or imagined them in a fishing vacation day dream. Summers can be crowded, so pick a lake and camp carefully. Weather can change quickly, so come prepared. Autumn fishing w/ the golden aspens and less crowds is preferred.
Most of these Eastern Sierra lakes are accessible by car, others by foot. Look at the photos, pick a destination and get a good map of the area, so you can explore everything around too.
Mammoth Lakes Area
Mammoth Area Lakes – Mammoth City
Mammoth Area Creeks –
Mammoth Area Rivers –
- Owens River
- San Joaquin River
June Lake Loop
June Area Lakes –
June Area Creeks –
Inyo National Forest Map
Ansel Adams Wilderness Maps
Devils Postpile Map
Mammoth High Country Map
Mono Divide Trail Map
Mammoth Mono Map NatGeo
other Eastern Sierra maps –
Bishop Pass Trail Maps
Hoover Wilderness Trail Map
John Muir Wilderness Maps
Mono Lake Map
Palisades Trail Maps
LA forest / Los Angeles Mountain / LA National Forest
Los Angeles forest & parks –
San Bernardino National Forest
Angeles National Forest
Los Padres National Forest
Santa Monica Mountains NRA
Malibu Creek State Park
Verdugo Mountains Park
Mount San Jacinto State Park
+ numerous Wilderness Areas
Los Angeles Mountains
Maps & Hiking Trails –
Los Angeles mountain towns –
Big Bear, Angelus Oaks, Arrowhead, Forest Falls, Green Valley Lake, Idyllwild, Wrightwood
Angeles Crest Highway 2
Kirkwood Lake Campground
Central Sierra Nevada mountains
Kirkwood Lake is west of Kirkwood Ski Resort;
west of Silver Lake @ Carson Pass Hwy 88
El Dorado National Forest
Inside the granite maze of rock known as Caples Creek, you may find this small lake, just off the highway. Paved access camp ideal for quiet weekends – fish, hike, stargaze and relax. Snow is deep in these parts of the Sierra, so the campground closes annually for winter.
No motor boats
No RV or motorhomes
No horse trailers
• Elevation: 7,600′
• Number of Sites: 12
• Vehicle Accessibility: No RVs
• Campsites Reservation: No
• Campsite Fee: Yes
• Length of Stay: 14 Days
• Season: June – October
• hiking trailheads, fishing, swimming, kayaking, canoe, rock climbing
Bears are active in this region, so use the metal bear boxes provided to store all food items.
Extra precautions should be taken with human waste around fragile eco systems, like lakes and meadows. Use the new bathroom, instead of the bushes (or granite crack).
piped drinking water, a camp luxury
Primitive Camping in El Dorado County
More & more people are venturing off the beaten touristy path of Gold Country. Getting outta the developed campgrounds to discover the joys of dispersed back woods camping is a new adventure, not to be taken lightly.
With truck or SUV ownership come some great rewards! Order a good map & go find some dirt roads. Waterfalls, dense forests, secluded creekside camp sites & more await you. Obtaining a camp fire permit is mandatory for this style of camping. Campfires are often banned in California, due to extreme wildfire danger. Since the gold mining foothills are usually oak and dry grass, with large steep river canyons, extra caution should be given. Always know the fire conditions before you build a campfire.
Discover the hidden back roads: like Caldor Road off of Grizzly Flat Rd. – up above Placerville CA
Hey, now this is what we’re talking about. Plenty great dispersed camping down by the Cosumnes River & Consumnes Mine Rd. There are hundreds of miles of small roads to discover back behind this historic mining area. Rivers, waterfalls & decent fishing too. Make sure you clean up some litter. This is the only price you pay for the beauty, serenity, peace & quiet & no neighbor campers next to you.
Out exploring these parts, you may run into a dead end road that peters out at some Private Property, which is usually signed & fenced. Make nice with the old crazy miner dude & turn your ass around politely, everything will be okay as soon as you are not within gun shot of him. Yes, there still are plenty of small time mining experts tucked away back here in the hills.
Premium and secluded river side camp sites in El Dorado National Forest
Plenty creeks and rivers run throughout this central Sierra region, so you can fish all day – until your hearts desire. River rafting and river kayaking opportunities are also great reasons to get wet.
Several mountain reservoirs around offer camping and boating too. Eldorado lakes are listed below.
Caples Lake @ Carson Pass
Ice House Reservoir
Jenkinson Lake – US Hwy 50
Lower Bear River Res. – South Shore Campground
Salt Springs Reservoir
Silver Lake @ Carson Pass
Union Valley Reservoir
nearby towns –
El Dorado Forest Maps –