Tag Archives: backcountry

California Meadows

Cherry Mdws

California Meadows

California meadow is a common term people search for when dreaming of their mountain retreat vacation or upcoming weekend camping trip.

Meadows are places in the forest where cool air collects and settles. Deer among other wildlife, can often be found here grazing around dawn and dusk. Alpine meadows are usually surrounded by trees with lush green grasses, located at higher altitudes above 6000′ – the ‘highcountry’ as most like to say.

Find meadows on National Forest lands from 3000-10,000′ elevation, and it is not uncommon to see cattle grazing in these same regions. California National Parks have some of the most protected meadows in the golden state!

MT SAGE – mountain sage meadows

High desert mountains have drier landscapes, with large sage brush meadows surrounded by sparse pinon pine and/or juniper forest. The Mojave desert’s sagebrush reaches out westward to the peaks of West Kern County. High deserts and mountain meadows can both have significant wildflower blooms. The deserts start to show color in March & April, while the highest elevations of the Sierra Nevada can bloom as late as July & August. All California Wildflowers depend on autumn seasonal rains & snow melt.

Kennedy Meadows from Bald
Kennedy Meadows from Bald Mountain Fire Lookout

Wilderness Meadows

The best places to find secluded wildflower meadows is on the high country trails of various mountains – Mount Pinos, Sierra Nevada, Shasta, Trinity & Lassen – all have marvelous meadows, some have easy access w/ parking nearby and others are hike-in only. Locate hiking trailheads for meadows and possibly find camp nearby.

Excellent near Meadows:
Stargazing, Wildflowers, Wildlife Viewing, Horse Camping

Explore dirt back roads of California to find your very own meadow. If you would like to explore at this level, a good topo map is highly advised. The Sierra Nevada mountains have the most beautiful meadows in the state (by far). Their scenery w/ granite outcroppings and wild flowers, surpasses all else. Although on rare occasions, even the Antelope Valley can look amazing — with poppies.

Common Wildflowers

BEST PLACES TO FIND MEADOWS

Lupine Drive

Rules of the Meadow

Mountain Meadows are sacred spaces: Do not disturb the lush, grassy landscape, as wildlife rely on these areas for survival.

No driving on meadows. No camping on meadows; No Campfires; Camp next to (or nearby), but not on top of the meadow. Picnicking should be kept on the sidelines.

4x4Stay on designated dirt roads: No tires across the meadow; No mountain biking, No dirt bikes, No off roading. You’re not spreading the seeds, you’re destroying a fragile ecosystem.

Ranch FENCING w/ barbed-wire is quite common around meadows, to keep cattle out of certain problem areas. Fences also help keep the wandering public out of private lands or sensitive areas.

hikerWhen hiking – stay out of the muddy spots and know that if you choose to hike directly across meadow, you may encounter water and deep, sinking mud. HINT: There is usually a shallow creek running through most meadows, during all times of the year.

Winter snow usually blankets these fragile areas in winter, and when deep enough – making this terrain prime destinations for snowmobilers.

Snow Mobiling

highmeadows

meadow views

Silver Lake California

Silver Lakes @ Bucks
Silver Lake, near Bucks Lake Wilderness

Numerous Silver Lakes, Creeks and other “silver” terrain can be found inside California. After the Gold Rush of 1849 in the western Sierra, Silver was discovered in Nevada shortly after (east of Sierra Nevada mountains). This page is an overview on all places with SILVER in the name, or places that have had a history of silver mining. California Counties are listed in parenthesis. Links below will lead to more detailed pages or campground reservations.

Silver Lake @ Lassen

(Lassen Co)

silver kayaker

Silver Lake @ Bucks

(Plumas Co)

silver88

Silver Lake @ Carson

(Alpine Co)

Silver Fork of the American River. Silver Fork Road connects US Highway 50 & Carson Pass Hwy 88. Silver Fork Campground & China Flat Campground (NFS) are both located on this remote, backcountry route, about 8 miles from US Hwy 50 campground

golden glow june

Silver Lake @ June

(Mono Co)

Autumn aspen groves ignite with color in October. Often, some of the best fall colors in the Eastern Sierra. Day trips w/ fishing. Hiking everywhere. Overnighters or backpackers could be greeted with snow at anytime in October or later. The June Lake Loop (SR 158) closes for snow annually!

California Lakes named Silver

 

Bodie SHP (State Park) calsp
(Mono Co)
8375′ elev. US Hwy 395 near Bridgeport, CA. Infamous, high desert ghost town, now a California Historic State Park. Large gold mining camp w/ well-preserved, wooden, old town structures. Silver was discovered in nearby Aurora Canyon.  All dirt road access. No developed campground @ Bodie, so try nearby Green Creek Road instead. Or high desert, back roads camping, on Aurora Canyon Road over to Bridgeport Reservoir.

Cerro Gordo
(Inyo Co)
8500′ elev. Inyo mountains, West of Death Valley, east of US Hwy 395 @ Junction 136. Old mining camp rich in silver history. Someone might even live up there. Extreme remote location in rugged, high desert mountains. 4×4 is always required!

Silver City Sequoia NPS
(Tulare Co)
6935′ elev. cabin resort on Mineral King Road, in the South Sequoia National Park

Silver Creek Campground NFS campground
(Alpine Co)
Developed Campground south of Markleeville, Highway 4, Ebbett’s Pass, Central Sierra Nevada

Silver Creek Campground campground
(Placer Co)
Camp right on the Truckee River, and on busy Hwy 89. in between Truckee & Lake Tahoe, California

Silver Valley Campground & Silver Tip Campground (Alpine Co) are both located near Lake Alpine on Highway 4 Ebbetts Pass , Central Sierra

jacksonmdwsign

Silvertip is also a Group Camp at Jackson Meadow Reservoir (Sierra Co) off Hwy 89, North of Truckee, CA. Silvertip Group Campground, as with all group camping facilities, is by reservation only.

Silver Lake @ LA
(Los Angeles Co) a hip and popular, tree-lined neighborhood in Los Angeles, near Griffith Park.

Silver Lake
(San Bernardino Co)
Silver Dry Lake, a dry lakebed in the Mojave desert, near the Hollow Hills Wilderness, north of Baker, CA off I-15

Silver Lakes
(San Bernardino Co)
2430′ elev. a desert community southwest of Barstow, near Helendale, CA. Located on the Mojave River (which flows underground) in between Historic Route 66 & US Hwy 395. Attraction nearby – Exotic World, the Burlesque Hall of Fame.

 

silverstrand

Silver Strand State Beach State Park

(San Diego Co)
A sliver of sand makes up this narrow beach, barrier island for San Diego Bay. RV Camping, best in SD. South San Diego, Coronado Island campground

silverwood

Silverwood Lake SRA State Park

(San Bernardino Co)
State Recreation Area @ Cajon Pass I-15
in the San Berdu National Forest

 

lacontedivide

High Sierra, California

hike-in only

backpacking

Silver Pass Lake
Silver Divide & Silver Pass
(Fresno Co)
11,000′ elev

Located in between two 12,000′ peaks
near PCT – Pacific Crest Trail
John Muir Wilderness

backpacking

Silver Lake
(Tulare Co)
11,000′ elev

via Mineral King trailheads
Golden Trout Wilderness
South of Sequoia NP
Southern Sierra Nevada

Another Hike


Borrego Campground


Camping Borrego

Anza Borrego Desert State Park & Borrego Springs Campgrounds

Anza Borrego Desert is the largest of the California State Parks. Borrego Palm Canyon Campground is the official name of this popular palm oasis & developed campground located very close to Borrego Springs CA. Hike or bike to town. There is also a private RV Park named Palm Canyon Resort in town, just to confuse you.

Desert wildflowers blooms, popular hiking & biking trails, plus mud caves & slot canyons draw plenty visitors here, mostly in the winter months. Summer high temps exceed 90 degrees for months at a time.
There are hundreds of miles of dirt roads to explore, and one could easily spend every weekend for a full year, checking out all there is to see in this vast desert, where elevations range from near sea level to 5000′ peaks.

Borrego Desert Campgrounds

Anza Borrego State Park Campgrounds calsp
760-767-5311, Anza Borrego Desert SP

BORREGO PALM CANYON CAMPGROUND
main campground near Visitors Center, in town Borrego Springs, CA
120 camp sites for tents & RVs, flush toilets, overnight / day use fees
reservations accepted

TAMARISK GROVE CAMPGROUND
27 camp sites, flush toilets, fee
on S-3 @ Highway 78 jct (closed June – Sept)
reservations accepted (Oct-May)

Vern Whitaker Horse Camp
equestrian campground w/ corrals, 10 camp sites, flush toilets
elev, 960′, located N of Borrego Springs, near scenic and rugged Coyote Canyon.
reservations accepted

Backcountry Campgrounds Anza

Arroyo Salado
16 miles east of Borrego Springs on County Road S-22

Blair Valley Camping Area
open car camping & RV spots, vault toilets
on SAN DIEGO County Rd S-2 near Highway 78 jct

Bow Willow Campground
elev, 950′, hwy access, 16 camp sites, pit toilets, overnight fee
near Sweeney Pass & badlands overlook; located on S-2, 9 miles N of Interstate 8

Canon Sin Nombre
off S-2 near Sweeney Pass; entrance near Badlands Overlook; slot canyon hikes

Coyote Canyon Camping
N of Borrego Springs via Di Giorgio Road
rugged backcountry dirt road, tent camping only
car camping near ocotillo gardens; 4×4 needed @ creek crossing & Sheep Canyon

Culp Valley Campgound
elev, 3400′, hwy access, 8 camp sites, pit toilets, free camp
located on S-22, atop Montezuma Grade

Culp Valley Boulders
elev, 3700′, dirt road access, primitive camp sites, free
located off S-22, 4×4 near Montezuma Grade

Fish Creek Campground
Hwy 78 near Ocotillo Wells & Split Mountain
elev, 280′, dirt road access, 8 camp sites, pit toilets, free camp
from hwy, go 12 milies south on Split Mountain Road

Yaqui Well
5 mi. south of Borrego Springs on County Road S-3 & right on Yaqui Pass Road, go 6 miles to camping area on right side

Yaqui Pass
5 mi. south of Borrego Springs on County Road S-3 & right on Yaqui Pass Road, go 4 miles to camping area on left side

culpvalleyOHV
Culp Valley trails, North Anza Borrego SP, SoCal Deserts

All Desert Campgrounds Nearby

AGUA CALIENTE HOT SPRINGS
(San Diego County Park)
88 camp sites for tents & RVs, flush toilets, overnight / day use fees, 760-765-1188
located on Co. Rd S-2, 22 miles N of Interstate 8 (closed June-Aug)

BOX CANYON RD Mecca, CA – in between Joshua Tree NP and Anza Borrego Desert
BLM camping in Box Canyon & Mecca Hills Wilderness Park

BUTTERFIELD RANCH RV PARK & HORSE CAMPGROUND
(Private Campground Resort)
located on S-2 between Highway 78 & Interstate 8

LEAPIN LIZARD RV RANCH
(Private Campground Resort)
85 acres, 60 camp sites
located on Split Mountain Road, Ocotillo Wells, CA

OCOTILLO WELLS SVRA
(State Vehicular Recreation Area)
elev. 160′, 4×4 and off road camp sites for trailers & RVs
no water, no hook-ups, pit toilets, no fees, 760-767-5391
located on Highway 78 (closed June-Sept)

PALM CANYON RV RESORT
(Private Campground Resort)
located in town, Borrego Springs, CA

SALTON SEA SRA
(State Recreation Area & Campground)
Mecca Beach, Corvina Beach, Salt Creek Campgrounds
located on Highway 111 on east side of inland sea

SLAB CITY @ SALTON SEA
old Camp Dunlap in California desert badlands
free & open RV camping near Salton Sea
located off Highway 111 on east side of inland sea

STAGECOACH RV PARK & HORSE CAMPGROUND
(Private Campground Resort)
located on S-2 near Highway 78 junction

TRUCKHAVEN HILLS
(OHV trails & camp spots)
elev. 300′, 4×4 and off road camp sites for car camping, touy hauler trailers & RVs
no water, no hook-ups, no fees,
located on S-22, East of Borrego Springs, CA

VALLECITO PARK
(San Diego County Park)
44 camp sites for tents & RVs, no hook-ups, toilets, overnight / day use fees, 760-765-1188
located on S-2, 22 miles N of Interstate 8 (closed June-Aug)

Mecca Hills
Mecca Hills BLM

Desert BLM Camping Spots

  • MECCA – BOX CANYON
  • OCOTILLO – FOSSIL SHELL CANYON
  • YUHA DESERT WILDERNESS – South of Interstate 8

Anza Borrego Desert State Park

camp

FREE CAMPING ANZA – Let us also remind you that this is the best place to camp in California for primitive car camping (camping outside of a developed campground). Open all year long – always! Super secluded, darkest skies, free and always located on the back roads. 4×4 is not required in all areas, so there are plenty of options. Blair Valley or Coyote Canyon Gardens are popular camp spots, but there are thousands of hidden canyons and washes in this giant State Park, just awaiting your tent. You’ll need a decent topographic map. For more info on free camping click here.

Anza wildflowers

San Diego County Road S-2 is the
Great Overland Stagecoach Route of 1849

Anza Borrego Wildflowers

Borrego 4×4 Trails & Camps

Carrizo Gorge Goat Trestle

Split Mountain Anza Borrego

Topo maps, wilderness hiking maps –

COOLNESS
Anza Borrego Desert Slot Canyons

nearby cities & towns:

California Elevations

conradkid
High Sierra hiking @ 12,000 feet above sea level

elevation

high altitude towns    well above sea level

The majority of California cities are located near sea level, with low lying farmlands and populated coastlines common throughout world geography. California has super diversity w/ the population, as well as the elevation and the terrain. Vast rugged deserts bordering Nevada, from high deserts (8000′ @ Bodie ghost town) to low deserts (below sea level for Mecca) near the Salton Sea. Towering granite peaks with minimal vegetation, to fern canyons and redwood groves at the coast, California has quite the unique landscape.

The beautiful golden state is also home to the highest and lowest point within the lower 48 states; and those points are only about 100 miles apart – Death Valley  (-282′ elev) and  Mount Whitney  (14,494′ elev).

I-80 Donner PassMTN TOWN: upper elevation mountain towns w/ forests and flowing water, are primarily located in the Sierra Nevada range which runs the backbone of California in a north-south direction,  separating the Pacific Ocean from the Great Basin. High altitudes are abundant in California, especially in the Eastern Sierra – but most are only accessible by foot.

Mountain communities in Southern California includes places like Mount Laguna, Palomar, Big Bear, Arrowhead, Idyllwild and Mount Pinos.

The coastal mountain range and the Sierra Nevada  encompasses most of Central California. The rest of the space is dedicated to large cities, farmlands and farming towns – which are most lower elevation. Orchards and vineyards can be found in the foothills (200′-2000′ elevation)

Northern California has more mountains and rivers, generally higher elevations and plenty more space to explore. Secluded forests, rivers, creeks, lakes, and reservoirs can be found above 2000′ elevation, north of Sacramento. The bigger mountains in the far north part of the state are part of the Cacade Range, which is volcanic in nature. (Mt. Lassen & Mt. Shasta). More water, more trees and more land – NorCal is very different than the lower half of the golden state.

hwy33overlook
North of Ojai, CA – Highway 33 winds up to Los Padres NF

California Elevation Breakdown

  • Alpine lakes, streams, forests, mountain peaks, granite scenery is abundant above 6000′ elev.
  • Pine forests, junipers, sage chaparral, manzanita, joshua trees can be found between 3000-6000′
  • Hot Springs, creek canyons and cottonwoods are usually discovered above 2000′ elev.
  • Oak hills, ghost pines, creek beds, river canyons  and most agriculture range from 1000-3000′
  • Under 1000′ elevation is the majority of the populated cities and towns within California; coastline, urban areas, foothills, farmland and a few reservoirs
Mecca Hills
Mecca Hills, below sea level

GoogleMaps – groundbreaking tool for trip planning and checking out trailheads, camps and dirt roads from overhead

USGS Viewer – topographic overlays for altitude estimates, and various imagery

California Elevations Map

shaverMS

snowflakeSnow is always a factor in mid to high altitude towns with road conditions being unpredictable with each mountain range and each micro-climate. Winter months range from late October to May, so be warned. Above 3000′ elevation usually gets some snow. Serious snow above 5000′. Some High Sierra Passesdon’t open until JULY (Yosemite Hwy 120 & Sonora Hwy 108). Carry tire chains or have 4×4 to travel safely on snowy roads. Guard rails are seldom around every curve.

list of California towns
by elevation

 

Rainbow Lodge California

bishopbelow
Above Owens Valley (US 395) at sunset, as seen from the Sierra side (8000′ elev)

Chimney Peak Backcountry Byway

chimney peak Wilderness

East of Lake Isabella and west of Walker Pass, there is a small community called Canebrake along Highway 178 Canebrake Road, a graded dirt road climbs up into pinyon pine forests. Lamont Peak (aka Lamont Pinnacles) is a decent hike & rock climbers dig it too.

Lamont Peak

Chimney Creek Campground is along the main road and has RV access (28′ max), for the motorhomes who do not mind a little dirt road driving. Easy trail access to numerous area hikes. The PCT is routed close by.

Long Valley Campground is tucked way back in the boonies with trailhead leading into the granite Dome Lands; Fishing and river access to the South Fork of the Kern.

Long Valley Loop
Long Valley Loop Road (2001)

Long Valley Loop Road circles the Chimney Peak Wilderness, which skirts the Domeland Wilderness. THE LOOP is washed out and ROAD is NOW CLOSED in one portion. See BLM web site for up to date info.

[ see the photos from 2001 ]

nearby towns –

ALTA SIERRA
LAKE ISABELLA
KENNEDY MEADOWS
KERNVILLE
WOFFORD HEIGHTS

maps of the region –

SEQUOIA NATIONAL FOREST MAP
DOMELAND WILDERNESS MAP
HIKING MAP PCT #3 (PACIFIC CREST TRAIL)

Anza Borrego 4×4 Trails

anzawashes

Being the largest State Park inside California, Anza Borrego has certain advantages. Lots of land to explore, abundant dirt roads, free camping and a very diverse terrain. Located in SoCal, this desert has lots to offer the outdoor enthusiasts, all year round.

Anza Borrego Desert

with hundreds of miles of dirt roads to explore

SUV / 2WD / AWD / 4WD / 4×4 / OHV

The Anza Borrego desert, in east San Diego County, is quite large and very easily accessible from Southern California. The park spans mid-elevation, mountain foothills (3000′ elevation) down to dry lake beds near sea level. Large, vast and varied terrain – and full of vegetation in certain spots. Borrego Desert Wildflower blooms attract thousands of visitors between March-May each Spring.

Borrego Valley

Wildflower Camping

 

While the majority of the dirt roads inside the ANZA DESERT are passable with a regular passenger car (on most days), some specific areas and routes are indeed considered “too hairy” and may require a 4 wheel drive. Rains change landscape fast in this region, so know before you go.

FLASH FOOD WARNING: Wet weather (anywhere nearby) can make a mild, soft, sandy wash into a wild, flowing river. On occasion desert washes are ‘washed out’ during big rain, often becoming mini rivers that can swallow your vehicle; Road and weather conditions can change suddenly in the California deserts. Wind can also play a huge factor in a selecting a decent camp site. Know the weather report in advance and always be on the watch for big clouds on mountains to the west.

Deep sand washes, steep sandy hillsides, boulder passes, rock yards to boulder hopping, soggy bottoms to straddling ruts, the deserts of SoCal are indeed fun and challenging. Enjoy your public lands responsibly and pick up some litter, stay on the trail and do not target shoot inside park boundaries.

To find these off-roading areas: OHV routes, camp areas and gear heads galore. Or try avoid them. Keep reading.

the well known spots

 OHV routes

Anza Borrego Desert State Park itself is NOT AN OFF ROAD PARK. If you want the free-for-all, open, OFF-ROAD areas, with sand dunes and terrain to explore, then the list above should help. Some places can be secluded and private for camping, and only one Jeep may pass by (for the whole weekend).

On the other end of the spectrum, most OHV camping areas are closer to paved routes and busy w/ motorized activity. On weekends, traffic, events and crowds are the norm.  ATV, dirt bikes, buggies, quads, jeeps, families, RVs. Often, a big noisy scene.

Seeking to travel to distant places to avoid crowds? then this site can help point to the best destinations. Follow links, browse images, get a decent topo map – and discover private desert camping for free.

Canyon Sin Nombre
Bad land canyons, easy SUV exploring – off of San Diego Co Road S-2

other awesome anza trails & canyons

most w/ 2WD access; high clearance vehicle is preferred (and as usual, 4WD may be needed in storm conditions). Not all 4×4 routes will be signed. Signs get washed away in desert areas, so don’t count on them. Have a good hard-copy, topo map handy – just in case.

culpvalleyOHV
Out exploring the Culp Valley Area, one fine Sunday afternoon.

Anza Borrego Desert Maps

Tom Harrison Anza MAPSDBKCO Recreation Map

The Tom Harrison Map of Anza Borrego Desert is actually called the San Diego Backcountry Recreation Map and is by far the best seller of the region.

hike anza

Wilderness Anza Borrego Map

Wilderness Press makes an excellent topographic map for the Borrego Desert, with all the details on terrain and info for camping, hiking & off roading.

MORE AREA MAPS

The infamous west coast backpacking route, the Pacific Crest Hiking Trail runs above the desert (a few thousand feet), on the ridges of Mount Laguna.

Cleveland National Forest borders the west side of Anza Borrego Desert, on the rugged steep slopes of the big mountains (7000′ elev). More Maps links are provided:

Diablo Drop
The Diablo Drop

Muck to Stagecoach
Wetlands in the desert? Not that rare, water does flow downhill. Some established well-traveled roads may have added gravel to the soggy marsh areas, but many water crossings are bare, and vulnerable to erosion. Try to avoid driving in and around water. DRIVE SLOW through water where route crossing is obvious. Wildlife need these water sources to survive, so don’t muck it up.

Palm canyons and large boulders are numerous in this desert, water sources scarce. Camping near palms can be limited to walking distance. Several palm oasis camps along San Diego County Road S-2, some RV accessible. Even the county-run Hot Springs Park has some palms. Of course, Palm Canyon is the State Park Campground. Visitors Center headquarters in downtown Borrego Springs has the most popular hikes, hotels, restaurants, with abundant campground camping. Very walk-able town. Super hot during summer, triple digits!

back roads: weekends

Weekends are always busier than week days, in general, all over Cali. Keep that in mind when seeking seclusion. Camping in Anza Borrego desert is always best at least 2 miles off the pavement, well away from the traffic on the highway and for those masses seeking the easy camping.

Campfires require a metal bucket in Anza!
Campfires always require a metal bucket in Anza!

camping back roads

OPEN-CAMPING: camping outside of developed campgrounds, also referred to as ‘primitive camping’ is quite common in Anza Borrego desert. Many Borrego Camping Areas are accessible with regular cars, close to main roads and usually have no bath rooms, or facilities. The further you drive from the pavement, the more likely you are to encounter obstacles like boulders, deep ruts, soft sand and uneven terrain.

Campgrounds Find Campgrounds & freebie spots in Borrego, CA

 

A top the Slot

nearby towns:

other off-road areas in the vicinity

wilderness areas in the vicinity

  • Anza Borrego Desert State Wilderness
  • Jacumba Mountains Wilderness

Mecca Box Canyon


Mountain Biking Sequoia

Bald Mountain Lookout

Mountain Biking Kern & Biking Camps in Sequoia

Mountain biking has become a popular sport especially in California. We’ve got so much great terrain, so close to home (the urban sprawl), that this outdoor hobby is bound to get you back in shape, fast. Start slow to avoid burnout and injury. The weather is awesome, just go. Plan a camping weekend & bring your bike!

Remington

KERN RIVER AREA

Parks & Forests in Sequoia region of the Sierra Nevada –

Big Meadow Kern

SEQUOIA PARK BIKING

Obvious (but humorous) information on bike riding or mountain biking in Sequoia NP. Upon doing research for this page, noticed a heck of a lotta folks typing in the phrase

Sequoia National Park Bike

I laugh…. but plenty people are searching for bike trails near Sequoia trees, inside the most protected of lands, the National Parks.

Firstly, most National Parks in California do not allow bikes on hiking trails. The Sierra Nevada has NO National Parks that allow mountain biking on their trails. (official words are: Biking is allowed on the main roads in the parks but is prohibited on park trails.)

Yuk. Who wants to ride on asphalt in the wild?

Yosemite & Lake Almanor both have nice paved bike paths. But you may want dirt trails for biking. Be it mellow mountain biking on forest roads, or the hard core Downie-droppers.

California Wilderness Areas are the same rules, but even tighter. So that brings us to Sequoia National Forest. Yes, indeed California National Forests allow mountain bikes on most trails, in most cases. The popular trails might even get small brown signs showing bikes that are allowed.

Second, there are no bike rentals inside Sequoia National Park (or Kings), so you must bring yours in, or better yet ride in. I dare you. Although you cannot take said bike on a dirt trail, so you’ll need to stick to pavement only. The main highway (Hwy 198) has got to be one of the curviest, narrow, fern lined ridge routes of the region. You would be a fool to ride this area, as a senior citizen w/ a 40 foot motorhome or a speeding SUV may take you out on a curve. Seriously! You better be in great shape if you plan to descend into Kings Cyn. That route is just as dangerous if not more so. These 2 National Parks – Sequoia & kings, both get a lotta traffic. Year round.

Thirdly – here is the biggest tip of the whole topic. In between Kings Canyon & Sequoia National Parks is a slice of Sequoia National Forest land. (Meaning you can ride bikes or mountain bikes here) Most call it Big Meadows Road # 14S11 & there is plenty camping all down this road – 12 miles with spur roads in every direction. A nice chunk of forest with rocks, meadows, camps & dirt roads. Granite & great scenery. What more could you ask for? More forest roads than single track trails tho and please watch for equestrian traffic. The dead end of this road leads out to 2 Wilderness areas, so be prepared to navigate with a good map in hand. No bikes are allowed in the Wilderness, remember?

Maps for biking in the Sequoia –

For Sequoia/Redwood Parks with less people and more open biking trails, try these –

Wanna see some great riders & bikes in action? California Mountain Bike Races

Bear Meadow
Camp Site at Bear Mdw

Borrego Camping

Anza Borrego Park / Anza Borrego Campgrounds

DSCN0034

California Highway 78 cuts across Southern California and right thru the middle of the largest State Park in the lower 48. Anza Borrego Desert State Park is a place that must be visited more than once to really take in all the beauty it has to offer. Free camping in Southern California is abundant here, if you are willing to follow the primitive camp fire rules of the park and you are comfortable camping away from developed campgrounds.

North-South: San Diego County Road S2 skirts the western border with Laguna Mountain towering above. It starts at Ocotillo @ Interstate 8 and heads Northwest to Lake Henshaw at Warner Springs.

East-West: a major route S22, connects Ranchita /Montezuma Valley to the Borrego Valley, and continues East to the Salton Seawhataview. The center of the parks is pretty much the town of Borrego Springs, where the State Parks visitors center is located. San Diego County Road S3 leads from Hwy 78 down the the town of Borrego Springs Valley.

developed campgrounds:

free camping: While the camping facilities listed above provide picnic tables and toilets, or more luxury camping… Total Escape thinks the best part of camping in Anza Borrego Desert is the vast amount of free, open camping available on most back roads. Hundreds of dirt roads lead off in all directions, so you can find the peace and solitude that few inside busy campgrounds ever experience.

  • Anza Borrego Desert Map
  • San Diego Backcountry Map
  • Many Anza desert routes are sandy washes, dirt roads, some for high clearance vehicles only, or 4WD in several canyons. Often there is no signs telling you need 4×4 to proceed. May only find out when its too late and you’re stuck.

    Have a good dirt road map with you and know your vehicles limitations. Passenger cars should be very cautious off road. Cell phone coverage is spotty out here in the most remote wilderness areas. oystercamp

    Yellow Post Campsites

    yellowpost

    Yellow Post Camping


    Yellow Stake Camp Sites / Back Roads Camping NFS
    near Cajon Pass, Big Bear & Idyllwild CA

    YELLOW POST CAMPS are dispersed camping sites on the back roads in Southern California, where fire danger is greatest. Forest authorities have designated certain spots as ‘fire safe’ for remote, open camping options around Big Bear Lake, Fawnskin and the Idyllwild mountain area.

    If you prefer to stay out of the developed campgrounds, you will be the minority. But you must know how to read a map well to reach these beauties.

    Map Big Bear

    SoCal camping doesn’t have to mean crowded campgrounds. Seek your seclusion on the dirt back roads, where there are no fees, minimal noises & a private site waiting just for you. These are usually on a first come, first serve basis. A high clearance vehicle (SUV, truck or 4×4) may be needed to reach some of the premium camp spots, but there are also sites accessible by passenger cars. And, of course, a fire permit is required.

    HeartBar14

    In the San Bernardino National Forest there are several back woods ‘fire safe’ camping spots, that are noted with a single yellow post & some may require reservations in busy summer months. You can find out more on reserving from the Big Bear Discovery Center, 909-382-2790

    campfires bannedExtra caution should be used when winds are high, camp fires are often banned due to wildfire danger. Check with local rangers for up to date conditions and always get your campfire permit.

    No restrooms, no water, no facilities. Just a dirt road, a fire ring & a single picnic table. Hopefully your table will not be shot up, by the local rednecks who ‘get off’ doing stupid stuff like this. Pick up any litter & leave the place better than your found it.

    Yellow Post Camps

    These backroad camps are perfect for the 4×4 group, stressed out social club, church group w/ rugged van, or the city SUVer who wants to get away from the crowds. The most sought after camp spots are nearest to the lake or a site accessible by RVs and horse trailers, but there are many more excellent camp sites to be discovered. USDA Forest Service Map is highly advised to reach these remote areas. There are rugged dirt roads that lead to some of these spots. A passenger car is sometimes not suitable for all dirt roads. Wet weather changes everything on dirt roads. Often routes close for winter w/ locked gates.

    Big Bear Back Roads Camping

    download PDF maps
    on Big Bear Yellow Post Sites

    Campsite7

    Big Lots

    Cajon Pass Camping near I-15

    Idyllwild Dispersed Camping

    thomas camp
    Topo maps, Wilderness hiking maps, Equestrian trails, OHV maps –

    Sierra Nevada Lakes

    Crystal Clear Faucherie

    California Sierra Lakes
    Sierra Lake Destinations
    Sierra Lake Campgrounds

    One of the best physical features about California is the amount of lakes and reservoirs it holds – in the mountains, foothills and the canyons, throughout the state.

    recreational lakes – Huge, dammed reservoirs to the secluded, alpine lakes in the high country and all the variations in between.

    bowman

    There are literally thousands of lakes located within the Sierra Nevada mountains and it would be ridiculous to try to list them all here. Many of them can only be reached by hiking into Wilderness.

    Most California lakes are popular and well known recreation spots, but others are secluded – if you drive far and long enough back on the dirt road. Some do not allow motorized boats and most do allow fishing and swimming. Some have campsites on the waters edge, while other camps are up on a hill over looking the lake.

    Below listed are some Sierra lakes that allow camping on the lakeshore or nearby. Most campgrounds are suitable for RVs, tent camping, and some may require 4 wheel drive to reach them. bass lake

    huntington lake

    Total Escape has several hundred more lakes & obscure camps listed under Almanor, Lakes Basin, Secluded Lakes, Yosemite Lakes, Tahoe & the Eastern Sierra Lakes page.

    Or just check the tag for Lakes & Reservoir

    sierra lakes

    23S01 – Los Padres NF

    Big Sur Dirt Roads

    Los Padres National Forest Road #23S01

    Willow Creek Road
    Los Burros Road

    South Big Sur Coast Dirt Roads & super scenic US HWY 1 – North of San Simeon and Hearst Castle, north of Ragged Point and just past Gorda, CA a dirt shoulder, widens, a break in the bushes on the right side of the highway, a small wooden sign for the Yurt Resort called Treebones and the turn off to the back-country of Los Padres National Forest Road #23S01

    Willow Creek is a steep coastal canyon w/ Willow Creek Trail #5E08 in the creek below and the dirt road 1000′ above. Willow Creek Day Use Area, the Willow Creek bridge and Willow Creek beach w/ restrooms, picnic tables, and paved parking lot near the highway.

    DIRT ROAD, high clearance is recommended, but not required. 4×4 may be needed in wet weather. Motorhomes, trucks w/ trailers and RV campers are not gonna like this rugged, narrow, steep, dirt road and are advised to stick to the pavement. Camper vans and SUVs are be better suited for this terrain.

    • Both Thomas Bros. Maps & Benchmark Map’s California Atlas has this route listed as Los Burros Road
    • Google Maps has this route named Will Creek Road
    • Yahoo Maps has this route as Willow Creek – Los Burros Road
    • Mapquest has this one listed as Los Burros Rd – Fort Hunter Liggett (which is a military base,  on the opposite side of the mountain range near US Hwy 101)


    View Larger Map

     

    Free Camping in Big Sur

    Willow Creek Rd

    Several primitive camp sites can be found along this rugged dirt road, which climbs steeply and switchbacks thru redwoods, madrones, cedars, grass lands and oak hills. Sites within the first 3 miles  of this road offer the serene sounds of the ocean – waves, seals, sea lions as well as traffic on the busy highway. There are a few private properties back here in the boonies too, so read signs and don’t go exploring this region in the dark.

    About 8 miles back on Willow Creek Rd is Alder Creek Campground – a small developed camp w/ only 2 camp sites and no piped water and no fees.

    Prewitt Ridge  also has numerous ideal top-of-the-world, free camp sites, which do require a lot more dirt road driving and a very good backcountry map.

    • Sycamore Flat Road intersects @ 3 miles up
    • Alder Peak Camp is San Martin Top @ 12 miles up
    • South Coast Ridge Road is at the very top @ 14 miles
    • Lions Den Camp is 19 miles of dirt road driving
    • Three Peaks Camp is 21 miles way back there
    Los Padres Monterey District Big Sur Map NatGeo

    Dick Smith Wilderness

    Santa Barbara Mountains
    Ojai Backpacking, Ventura, CA

    old cabin cuyama
    Old Cabin at Cuyama Peak Fire Lookout, Dick Smith Wilderness Area in the background

    64,800 acres

    30 miles N of Ojai, CA
    Los Padres National Forest

    Dick Smith Wildernessreyes lift off

    • backpacking
    • camping
    • hang gliding
    • hiking
    • horseback riding
    • parasailing
    • OHV trails nearby

    Los Padres National Forest – Located in between the Santa Barbara coastline and the Cuyama Valley, this coastal wilderness area is situated miles north of Ojai, off Highway 33.

    The Dick Smith Wilderness is where the San Rafael Mountains and the Sierra Madre Mountains merge on the east side, next to Pine Mountain Summit (elevation 5080′ @ highway). This PINE MTN should not to be confused w/ the Pine Mountain Club, on the north side of Cerro Noroeste.

    Big Pine Mountain – 6828′ elevation
    Cuyama Peak – 5875′
    Lizard Head – 5350′
    Madulce Peak – 6536′
    Samon Peak – 6527′

    Closer to Ojai, Matilija Wilderness is on the southern boundary of DickSmith and the San Rafael Wilderness sits to the west side. Native American petroglyphs can be found in this region.  Access to “Painted Rock” on the Sierra Madre ridge, via Road #32S13 (which has a locked gate on both ends), is a long one so you might want to bring the mountain bike. The dirt road hike is about 10 miles (one way) and it starts at the Santa Barbara Canyon trailhead. If you plan to visit the rock art from the west side – take the dirt road road up past Bates Canyon Campground. The turn off on Hwy 166 is called Cottonwood Canyon.

    Dick Smith Trails
    hiking trailheads –

    • Chorro Grande (Hwy 33)
    • Potrero Seco (Hwy 33)
    • Santa Barbara Canyon (Hwy 166)

     area campgrounds –

    • Nettle Springs
    • Ozena (closed)
    • Pine Mountain (dispersed)
    • Rancho Nuevo
    • Reyes Creek
    • Reyes Peak
    • Tinta

     nearby towns –

    more Ojai camping

    ojai backpacking

    Dick SMith Wilderness

    Ozena Valley Badlands