Dirt Street

7S02 up hill

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.

dirt streetsIf 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 mud terrainor C as a backup idea.

Best off road areas & parks in California:

Death Valley Roads

Tooling around Goler Wash & Barker Ranch on the very edge of Death Valley

Go Solo

Traveling Alone
Camping Solo

Sierra Hiking Path

it’s the way to go… slow & solo

enjoying quality time alone is not weird, wrong, or unnatural, no matter how many strange looks you get from friends & envious co-workers

Solo Outdoor Trips

Stop waiting for someone to do things with. Quit thinking that your best friend or partner will one day magically suggest an outdoorsy road trip, or day hike, or mountain bike ride. YOU are the one who craves the wildness of the earth, the unexplored, the secluded. The time is now for you to start living the life you want, outdoors, in California – today!

If you’ve just about had it with the pressures of everyday stresses, the wifi city life and the busy pace of civilized society is starting to get to you. Get a clue fast – before you loose your marbles. It’s time for much needed rest and relaxation. Nature is the best place to relax and reconnect with yourself and mother nature.

A change in scenery. A fresh perspective. A real break from the norm. No shopping, no errands, no phones, no television, no computers, nobody around. No one, except you.

and they might call you anti-social…

Travel Solo

alone, by yourself

away, distant, solely, detached, free, independent, unique, individually

The Call of the Wild


Unplug yourself from the hectic rat race and go exploring. Give yourself time to fully unwind: time to think, time to enjoy the outdoors and really find that special place of peace that comes only from earth. Yes, all by yourself.

VISION QUEST

Call it an annual primal ritual, or a first time experiment, traveling solo can be a blessing in disguise. Learning to be alone outdoors, become more aware of the physical world and enjoying yourself is an important key to a balanced life. Whether you seek a quick refresher course for the weekend or a full blown month long road trip, seeking a new comfortable destination and the art of basic relaxing is the main focus for this trip.

Camping Alone

slow going

When you travel alone, it’s easy to take your own sweet time. Going slow is something we don’t usually do in our busy city lives. Time is so precious, so you may as well stretch that vacation out as long as possible. Savor the moments.

Take as long as you like for – photography, picnicking, hiking, stretching, yoga, cooking and stargazing. Firewood collection becomes the biggest chore of the day, and it could take hours. Walking from camp, every direction will lead to a new adventure. Driving back roads at 20 mph is luxurious. No one to be your back seat driver. Sleep in every day if you want. No pressures, no schedules, no big worries. Sunlight, food, heat, weather, cooking and cleaning. Sit back and learn to really relax. Enjoy a secluded camp site for a full week, and get to know the wildlife on a first name basis.

Boy Camping

Follow the back roads to seclusion, or reserve several days at a unique campground. Imagine night after night of peaceful rest, with the sounds of nature surrounding you & the stars of the heavens dancing across the darkest skies.

Explore new terrain every day & move to a new camp every night. Or make it a “stay put” week-long meditation, in one spot. Whatever fits your needs. Either way, you’ll enjoy the solitude & the healing powers of nature. Answering to no one but yourself, you may feel guilty or kinda selfish the first few days, but this will fade as you learn to embrace the solo journey.

And it doesn’t hafta be all about roughin it either. While backpacking into the almighty wilds of the true wilderness has its good points – along with life threatening dangers possible every day, a simple quick weekend trip to a nearby small inn, fishing lodge,  or a bed & breakfast could work for the pampered types. Choose something different and unique, yet know your own limitations (on comfort & on a physical level). Make sure your destination choice is surrounded by some nature and preferably wilderness. You won’t miss the television one bit!

  • FARM STAYS & GUEST RANCHES
  • BED & BREAKFAST INNS
  • NFS FIRE LOOKOUTS & CABINS
  • TENT CABINS & YURTS
  • CA LAKES & RESERVOIRS
  • WILDERNESS AREAS
  • SMALL TOWNS IN CALIFORNIA
  • Spend One Full Day a Week Outside in Nature

    Good California Maps are a must have! Don’t rely on digital cell service or count on online maps being readily available. The hard-copy versions are always the best back up plan. Old paper maps are the very best, cuz they can often show more hidden waterfalls, trails and old mines than the newer maps.

    National Forest maps are best for getting and staying away from the tourist crowds. Visit Destinations to decide what kinda place you wanna explore this season.

    California has it all – A to Z

    which is why the golden state population always seems to be increasing, right? Helping you get away from your normal routine and the masses is what we do best here at Total Escape. Discover the thousands of pages, photos and links on this site to create your very own unique retreat.

    The mountains, deserts, coastal, rolling oak countryside & even urban escape inside city villages, are perfect starting points for planning your little escape. Desert Retreats California

    Desert camping in autumn, winter and springtime months is perfect timing for any kinda soul searching, catching up on a good book, or just gazing out at the vast vistas. Meteor showers fall within the latter part of the year, so stargazing and camping is excellent with the new moon. Temps start to drop come September, so be warned. Mountain cabins drop to their off season rates after summer, but be prepared for chilly temps and get proper outdoor gear.

    camping destinations
    lakes in calif
    California State Parks
    hiking trails
    BLM camping
    back roads
    usda nfs
    mountains of California
    California National Parks
    stargazer
    desert in cali

    Desert Sunsets in Winter

    SAFETY TIPS: Give your schedule to someone. Any bit of info is helpful. A map or written itinerary given to a neighbor or close friend will help ensure your safety and timely return. Bring your cell phone, plenty maps, bear mace and emergency supplies for additional security.

    Walk-In Camp Sites

    MIneral KIng Walkin Camps

    Walk-In Camps

    Below are all developed campgrounds in California that have walk-in camp spots available. Vehicles are parked and you must carry your gear into the camp site (usually a short distance, but can be up to a half mile).

    California Campgrounds with more than a 1-mile trek are not included in this list below. Areas such as – Catalina Island, Crystal Cove SP, Angel Island SP, Point Reyes National Seashore, indeed have many hike-to camps, but most are measured in miles (one way).

    walk in campsites are perfect for –

    • people who wish not to see cars @ camp
    • people who prefer less noise while camping
    • physically fit folks, who want exercise
    • backpackers, who plan to hit the trails soon
    • avid hikers, who may be out day hiking
    • cyclists, just passing through
    • mountain bike campers
    • one nighters, travelers who only stay one night
    • late comers to the campground
      (hint: these are usually the last campsites to fill up)

    NewMelones WalkIn Camps

    Walk in campsites are often located away from car campers & RVs. Some camp sites may have more privacy, tucked away in trees, while others have shared community area with fire pits and/or barbecues. All camp sites will have picnic tables and a some kinda toilet nearby. Bear boxes may be available for storing food properly. Sharing the storage boxes with neighboring campers is common practice.

    Campgrounds with walk-in sites range in elevation from sea level marshlands to high altitude alpine lakes. Most of these camps listed below are located inside developed campgrounds with overnight fees. Many are small campgrounds, while others are large hubs of activity. The most popular places can be reserved online, with the links provided.

    Many parks can also have day use fees, so know where you park and what time span is allowed. Ask the campground host if needing assistance. Some campgrounds lock their gates at sunset and do not permit entry at night. Others may not allow campers to check in anytime after sundown. Know their rules before you make reservations.

    If you plan on not making camp reservations; make sure to have a plan B or C choice camp – in case your desired campground is already full. Many popular destinations can fill up fast (by noon in the summer).

    CAMPGROUND RESERVATIONS

    Walk In Camps in California

    hikes campmtb

    Andrew Molera State Park, North Big Sur Coast
    Anthony Chabot Regional Park, East Bay San Francisco
    Austin Creek SRA, Armstrong Redwoods, Guerneville CA

    Big Basin Redwoods State Park, Santa Cruz Mountains
    Black Rock Campground, Little Grass Valley Reservoir
    Boise Creek Campground, Six River National Forest
    Bottchers Gap Campground, North Big Sur Mountains
    Butana State Park, Pescadero, Santa Cruz Mountains

    Cherry Hill Campground, Butte Creek, Lassen National Forest
    Chilcoot Campground, Frenchman Lake, Plumas NF
    China Camp State Park, SF @ San Pablo Bay, San Rafael
    Chula Vista Campground @ Mount Pinos, Los Padres NF mtb
    Clear Lake State Park, North Wine Country, Kelseyville CA
    Cold Springs Campground
    ,
    Mineral King @ Sequoia NP
    Cool Springs CampgroundPG&E Camp, Butt Valley Reservoirhike
    Cottonwood Pass / Cottonwood Lakes on Horseshoe Meadow Rd, PCT Eastern Sierra @ Lone Pine

    coolsprings

    Dark Day Campground, New Bullards Bar Reservoir, N Sierra
    Donner Memorial State Park, Interstate 80 @ Truckee CA
    Dry Lagoon Walk-In, Humboldt Lagoons State Park

    El Capitan State Beach, North Santa Barbara Coast

    Gaviota State Park Campground, North Santa Barbara Coast
    Glory Hole Campground @ New Melones Reservoir, Gold Co
    Granite Flat Campground, Truckee River @ Lake Tahoe
    Gualala Point Park, Gualala River, Sonoma County Park

    Half Moon Bay State Beach Campground, Half Moon Bay
    Headquarters Campground, Salton Sea SRA, Mecca CA
    Henry W Coe State Park, Santa Cruz Mountains
    (wilderness permits required)

    Intake Campground, Bishop Creek, Eastern Sierra

    Jackson Flat Walk-In Camp PCT @ Angeles NF
    Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park Campground, NorCal
    Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, Big Sur Coast

    Klamath National Forest –
    small campsite on river

    • East Fork (Salmon River @ Cecilville)
    • Lover’s Camp (Marble Mountain Wilderness)hike
    • Kangaroo Lake (NorCal PCT access)
    • Matthews Creek (South Fork Salmon River)
    • Shadow Creek (East Fork of Salmon River)
    • Sulphur Springs (Marble Mountain Wilderness)
    • Trail Creek (Upper Salmon River)

    Liberty Glen Campground @ Lake Sonoma Recreation Area
    Limekiln State Park Campground, Hwy 1 Big Sur Coastline

    MacKerricher State Park Campground, Mendocino Coast
    Macumber Reservoir,
    PG&E Camp, West of Lassen NPfishing
    Manresa State Beach Campground
    , Monterey Bay
    Marmot Rock Walk-In Camp, Courtright Reservoir
    Mary Smith Campground
    @ Lewiston Lake, Trinity River
    Merced Recreation Area, Merced River, Mariposa CA
    Mesa Campground, Silverwood Lake SRA, Cajon Pass
    Mill Creek Campground @ Bucks Lake, Plumas NF
    Mill Creek Campground, Del Norte Coast Redwoods SP
    Montana de Oro State Park, Morro Bay, San Luis Obispo mtb
    Mosquito Flat Trailhead Camp, One night limit! Camp is for backpackers heading into back country at the end of Rock Creek Road, Inyo NF hike

    Niagra Creek Campground, OHV 4×4 trails, Stanislaus NF
    North Battle Creek Reservoir
    PG&E Camp, West of Lassen
    North Grove Campground, Calaveras Big Trees State Park

    Oak Bottom Campground

    Oak Bottom Campground @ Whiskeytown Reservoir SRA

    Onion Valley CA

    Onion Valley Campground, Eastern Sierra @ Independence, CAhike

    Pantoll Campground, Mount Tamalpais State Park, Marin
    Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park Campground, Big Sur Coast
    Pigeon Flat Campground, Stanislaus River, Dardanelle CA
    Pomo Canyon Walk-In Camp, Sonoma Coast State Beach
    Portola Redwoods State Park, Santa Cruz Mountains
    hikePrather Meadows Camp, Bunny Flat @ Mount Shasta
    Providence Mountains SRA @ Mitchell Cavern, Mojave

    Redwood National Park, NorCal Coast
    (no reservations, no fees. open all year)

    • Flint Ridge Walk-In
    • Nickel Creek Walk-In
    chulavistacamp

    CHULA VISTA CAMP – Wild Iris Meadow at Mount Pinos

    Refugio State Beach, North Santa Barbara Coast
    Rock Creek Campground
    , Eel River @ Standish-Hickey SRA
    Roxie Peconom Campground, Bizz Johnson Trail, W Susanville mtb
    Russian Gulch State Park Campground, Mendocino Coast

    San Clemente State Beach, Orange County Coast
    Sanborn Campground, Skyline County Park, Saratoga CA
    Sand Flat Campground, Clark Fork, Carson Icerberg Wild
    Silver Creek Campground, Truckee River @ Tahoe
    Southwest Walk-In Camp
    , Lassen Volcanic National Park
    Squaw Leap Campground, San Joaquin River, Auberry CA
    Stillwater Cove Regional Park, N of Fort Ross, Sonoma Coast

    Tahoe National Forest
    Donner Area Camping Lakes

    NFS 530-265-4531

    • Carr Lake Campground
      10 miles north of Highway 20
      6,700′ elev
      5 walk-in campsites
    • Rucker Lake Campground
      6 miles north of Highway 20
      5,462′ elev
      7 walk-in campsites
    • Sterling Lake Campground
      9 miles north of Interstate 80
      7,000′ elev
      6 walk-in campsites

    Toad Lake Walk In Camp, PCT @ Shasta National Forest
    Tuolumne Meadows Camp, Yosemite National Park
    (reservations & wilderness permits required)

    Union Reservoir Walk In Camps, Arnold CA

    Union Valley Reservoir – Eldorado National Forest

    • Azalea Cove Campground
    • Fashoda Campground

    Van Damme Redwoods State Park, Mendocino Coast

    Walker Pass Campground, PCT, East of Lake Isabella CA
    Whitney Portal Trailhead Camp, Mount Whitney, Eastern Sierra
    Woodside Campground, Salt Point State Park, Sonoma Coast

    OnionValleyWalkIns

    Walk in campgrounds are considered ‘tent camping‘, as opposed to ‘car camping‘, which is literally camping next to your vehicle. This type of hike-in camping may also be referred to as ‘trailhead camping‘, as many ideal hikes begin at these prime locations. Boat-in, bike-in or hike-in camp sites are also available at some of these locations.

    California Aspens

    AspenGroves

    Aspen Groves are easy to recognize with their thick stands. White trunks with dark knots, which are usually found lining creeks, alpine lakes, or gracing the crack of a granite canyon. They have unique round leaves which can turn spectacular colors in the fall season. The fluttering and flapping of the oval-shaped, thick, green leaf is a sure sign of summer. When breezes get cooler, Autumn is only a few weeks away and as quick as the cold comes in, what a short and special show they put on.

    California Fall Colors

    aspensplit

    Aspen trees can be found at higher elevations in California, above 5000′ – all the way up to about 10,000′ or higher, depending on the mountain range and local water flows. Groves have an extensive root systems underground, so they often withstand wildfires and can come back after the rest of the forest is gone.

    Beavers build dams in creeks around aspen trees, fishermen and campers love to camp next to aspens, and lovers carve their initials into their white bark. These trees do indeed take a beating, from all angles, winter weather included… so stop from cutting them!

    carvings

    fishing creeks mountain biking stargaze Picnic Camp Hiking horseback back roads mountains

  • BIKE
  • CAMP
  • FISH
  • HIKE
  • KAYAK
  • PICNIC
  • summer and autumn

    These deciduous trees are naked half the year, typically from November to April, as winter buries them in snow and ice. Time is of the essence, limited to Summer and Autumn – to enjoy their shade and the beauty of the groves. Scenic meadows and fishing creeks are just an added bonus for searching out the aspen.

    Aspens can be found in hidden canyons, primarily along the Eastern Sierra US Hwy 395 and surrounding mountain lakes. Some Sierra Passes have decent displays of color as well – like Carson Pass Hwy 88 and Yosemite’s Tioga Pass Hwy 120.

    Below is a list of Total Escape’s favorite aspen areas of California

    ASPENDELL
    BAKER CREEK (4×4)
    BIG PINE CANYON – NORTH FORK TRAIL

    BISHOP CREEK
    BLUE LAKES, CARSON PASS

    CONVICT LAKE
    COTTONWOOD CREEK @ ANCIENT BRISTLECONES
    COYOTE FLAT (4×4)
    CROWLEY LAKE

    DUNDERBERG MEADOW
    GREEN CREEK ROAD
    HASKINS VALLEY @ BUCKS LAKE
    HILTON CREEK
    HOPE VALLEY
    JUNE LAKE LOOP

    LAKE SABRINA
    LAKE TAHOE
    LAUREL LAKES ROAD
    LEE VINING CANYON
    LUNDY LAKE

    MAMMOTH LAKES
    MCGEE CREEK
    NORTH LAKE, ASPENDELL

    ONION VALLEY
    PARKER LAKE
    PINE CREEK ROAD, BISHOP

    QUAKING ASPEN CAMP, GIANT SEQ

    RED’S MEADOW, MAMMOTH
    ROCK CREEK ROAD @ US HWY 395

    TOM’S PLACE
    TWIN LAKES
    VIRGINIA LAKES

    WISHON RESERVOIR

    aspenwall

    CAMPGROUND RESERVATIONS


    Autumn Camping in California

    amigoaspens

    Laurel Lake Road @ 9000′ – Eastern Sierra, California

    CA Visitors Guide

    California Visitors Guide

    California is currently the #1 travel destination in the country. Travel and tourism totals $80 billion annually in California, support jobs for a million Californians and generate $5.3 billion in state and local tax revenues.

    Total Escape is the independent travel site for the golden state. We also list some other resources below.

    California map

    California Guide

    local Californians prefer….
    Total Escape, California, Off the Beaten Path
    totalescape.com

    beach sunset