Tag Archives: terrain

National Forest Cabins

California Fire Lookouts for Rent
US Forest Service Cabins

red cabin

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

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

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

El Dorado National Forest USFS

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

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

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

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

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

Lassen National Forest USFS

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

Plumas National Forest USFS

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

 

Big Bear Lake 2002
Big Bear Lake, Southern California

San Bernardino National Forest USFS

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

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

Coon Cabin
Coon Cabin – Southern Cal

Sequoia National Forest USFS

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

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

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

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

Needles Fire Lookout
(destroyed in structure fire 2011)

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

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

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

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

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

Shasta/Trinity National Forests USFS

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

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

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

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

Harris Springs Guard Station
near McCloud, CA

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

Post Creek Guard Station
near Hayfork & Platina, CA


Sierra National Forest USFS

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

 

Six Rivers National Forest USFS

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

Tahoe National Forest USFS

Calpine Lookout Cabin Rental
near Sierraville, CA

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

lakes basin views


Best View Camp Sites

view campsite

Great Overlooks for Camping

Best View Camp Site in California 

Overlook Camps, View Spot Camp Sites

This camp list is comprised of primitive camp sites and developed campgrounds with good views overlooking a large area (valley, town, canyon, desert, river, ocean). Many ideal spots may require dirt road driving, and a few might need a 4-wheel drive vehicle to reach.

Prewitt Ridge, Big Sur Coast

We were suggesting this very spot way back in 1999, well before anyone else was ‘blogging’ about it. This area is by far the best, free coastal camping on the Central Coastline of Big Sur. Dirt roads traverse 10 miles out to vacant ridges overlooking the Pacific, with steep hills down to the highway. Camp above the fog layer and above the crowds. Explore the beaches during the day, and camp above the traffic & crowds at night.

Dry brush is abundant on the mountains of Los Padres National Forest. Camp fire restrictions should be of utmost concern in this area, since wildfires burn here often. Camp fire permits are required for camping on the back roads, and much of the time camp fires are banned in this region. Call ahead to the rangers to find out the current conditions.

Swinger

Julia Pfieffer Burns State Park
Big Sur Coastline

Two prime walk-in camp sites, on a shady point, high above a beach cove w/ scenic waterfall.

Called “environmental camps” these highly desirable spots need advanced reservations w/ fees many months in advance. Tables, fire rings and a vault toilet. Bare bones basics, but the ideal location is worth it. A forested cliff on the edge of the ocean, high above a secluded cove. This location a can get windy if a storm moves in (generally October – March).

Los Padres National Forest

Kirk Creek Campground
on Highway 1 @ Nacimiento Road
Big Sur CA

Willow Creek Road # 23S01
primitive camping on dirt road, above Hwy 1 @ Gorda, CA

sunset watch

Reyes Peak Camping
North of Ojai, CA
Pine Mountain Summit, CA Hwy 33

Off Cerro Noroeste Road, W of Pine Mountain, CA

Above Santa Maria, Highway 166
West of New Cuyama, CA

  • Miranda Pines Campground @ 4100′ elev
    Located well off hwy. on Road #32S13

Mendocino National Forest

There are several primitive campsites off of M10 with views of chaparral and canyons. Just above Stonyford, CA, on the way up to Fouts Springs. Unfortunately Mendocino National Forest is may be closed for 2019 due Ranch Fire (wildfire 2018) w/ Snow Mountain Wilderness completely 100% burnt.

Planning more scouting of this region summer 2019. Stay tuned.

Angeles National Forest

  • Mount Pacifico Campground
    Angeles Forest Highway
  • Lightning Point Group Campground
    near Jackson Lake @ Hwy 2
Fire Safe Spot
Random ridge spot in Big Sur
john bull camp spot
john bull 4×4 camp

San Bernardino National Forest

Toro Peak Campground Rd# 7S02

toro_campsite

  • San Berdu has more than a few trail camps for 4×4 enthusiasts. Weekends can be busy all year long. Snow usually closes some routes. Pine forest in southern California means very tight campfire restrictions. All yellow post camp sites include table and a fire ring. Campfire permits are required.
  • East ridge line, rocky, dusty, 4WD-only route, the John Bull Trail (near Holcomb Valley) has ONE real awesome view camp spot with great spans over the Mojave desert w/ smog and city lights @ night.
  • Mesa Campground @ Silverwood Lake SRA

I-8 East of San Diego, CA

  • Larkin Campground
    McCain Valley BLM OHV
  • Mar Tar Awa above Viejas Casino
  • Sweetwater Summit Co Park San Diego

I-5 North of San Diego, CA

  • San Elijo Campground, San Elijo State Beach
    Coastal cliffs, overlooking beach and ocean
    Solana Beach, CA

S-22  East San Diego County

Montezuma Grade, overlooking Borrego Springs & Anza Borrego Desert

  • Culp Valleyboulders, primitive camps on dirt roads; better views off-road. Vault toilet. Few tables, no signs. Small campground at the highway is easy to find. Boulders and bouldering. Mountain biking and hiking. Wildflowers in spring.

providence

Interstate 15 & I-40 Mojave Desert

view spot mojave

US Hwy 395 Eastern Sierra

inside Death Valley National Park

  • Mahogany Flat Campground steep dirt road access. Trailhead for tallest peak in the park, Telescope Peak (11,049′ elev)
  • Tucki Mine, 4×4 route. Unmarked dirt road inside Emigrant Canyon, off Wildrose Road.

inside Inyo National Forest

ohridgeview
oh ridge view
    • Coyote Flat @ Pinyon Boulders – 4×4 required, one primitive camp w/ great views overlooking the Owens Valley & peaks to the east. Coyote Flat has views toward the Sierra
    • Oh! Ridge Campground Off the main highway 158, June Lake Loop
      (148 sites @ 7600′ elev.) near June Lake, CA
    • Onion Valley Campground – High Sierra @ 9200′ elevation. Trailhead to Kearsarge Pass. W of Independence, CA

4x4 Camps

Western Sierra Nevada Mountains
Sierra National Forest

cabin rental

NFSsee also – NFS Fire Lookouts & Rental Cabins
many of which have excellent views of the wilderness areas; a hike or climb may be necessary

Colorado River Camping

Multiple riverside RV havens, county parks, and campgrounds near Parker, AZ

Riverside RV parks in Blythe, CA

Riverside RV parks in Lake Havasu, CA

coloradoriverRV
colorado river camping

 


Yosemite Topo

merceddownriver

Yosemite Topo Maps

ti_yosemiteYosemite National Park, in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, is the most visited of all the National Parks. Tourists, visitors and campers fill the main valley all year long, with the crowds peeking in mid summer. Autumn is gorgeous, winter is snowy, spring is glorious and summer is grand.

The park has numerous alpine lakes, granite domes, meadows, Sequoia groves and a snow ski resort. Backpacking is popular here, hiking all over, bike rentals w/ miles of paved trails. Plus, the best in big wall climbing. Waterfalls and granite cathedrals tower above the lush, glacier- carved valley. Mighty MERCED RIVER, right through the middle of granite and forests.

Storms of recent have rearranged the landscape inside the valley with a number camping facilities wiped out by the river. Yosemite lost half of the campsites, which dramatically reduced the amount of camping available inside the main valley. Older cabins at Yosemite Lodge are gone. Less camping, but more people means you should make camp reservations early as possible; or search for camping just outside the National Park boundary.

Sightseeing and hiking should be part of your visit to Yosemite Valley. Bring your raft for a float down the river. Stay away from the crowds and take the back roads, with our great selection of Yosemite backcountry maps.

We now have links to digital maps for download!

Topographic maps for Yosemite National Park – and the outlying regions:

Teneja Lake, Hwy 120. Yosemite National Park
Teneja Lake, Hwy 120. Yosemite National Park
Eastern Sierra Camping

Inyo National Forest

Sierra National Forest

Stanislaus National Forest

Yosemite Lakes

Yosemite Lodging

Yosemite National Park

Mariposa County CA
Ahwahnee
Bass Lake
Coarsegold
El Portal
Fish Camp
Groveland
Lee Vining
Mariposa
Midpines
Nipinnawasee
Oakhurst
Wawona
Vogelsang: High Sierra Camp
Vogelsang: High Sierra Camp

th_half_dome_d

Backpacking
Day Hikes
GRANITE TERRAIN
Topographic
Yosemite Trail Maps

TuolumneMdws

Sunrise Lakes
Sunrise Lakes, Yosemite HSC Loop Hike


California Mountain Maps

The Mountains of California

Camping El Dorado NF, on the Consumnes River
Camping El Dorado NF, on the Consumnes River

If you know you wanna head up in elevation, higher altitudes – to the pine forests of California, but have no clue where to start, this page may be very helpful in determining your ultimate destination. We have hundreds of pages on adventures & locations throughout the golden state. We sell all California maps for outdoor recreation, hiking topos to off road routes.

Wanna camp under the stars this weekend – and avoid the crowds too? You will need a good back road map to find this awesome camp site, guaranteed. Need a hammock spot, small swimming hole & total seclusion? Or how about a large family camp w/ Sequoia grove nearby? Total Escape has something for every ones budget & lifestyle. See below for an extensive breakdown of California mountain regions.

#1
SoCal mountains have tighter restrictions on campfires, larger number of people camping in a smaller amount of space, minimal primitive camping options in the forests, more fees to access these lands.

#2
The Sierra Nevada mountains are the prime outdoor destination for many in the Central California region. High elevations w/ granite slabs to lower country reservoirs & riverside oak flats. Folks come from all over the world to visit parks and lakes within this mountain range. Indeed, 4 National Parks call the Sierras home: Lassen, Yosemite, Kings Canyon and Sequoia NP – not to mention the 10 National Forest and 15+ Wilderness Areas.

#3
You want big water? Cabins next to a prime fishing river or camping near lakes, creeks with dense forests, then you will have to drive to the mid Sierra or even NorCal to find ’em.

Wilderness maps

California Mountain Regions Defined –
find the details on specific region for California mountains

saabaru_forest
Mountain Home Sequoias

epic finds

Find little known parks, camps and forests within our vast California BACK ROADS data base. Below is a small sampling of our picturesque mountain pages, where you can find the best seclusion: hiking, camping, fishing, mountain biking trails, rivers, creeks and peaks.

NFSlogo

Sierra Buttes
The Sierra Buttes, Northern Sierra near Gold Lake

sierra National Forest map

Outdoor Recreation Maps of California:

inyohighroad
Inyo high roads, of the Eastern Sierra


Camp Lassen

Lassen Campgrounds

Mill Creek w/ Lassen Peak
Mill Creek w/ Lassen Peaks (July 2011)

Feather River Camping, Lake Almanor Campgrounds, Hat Creek, River Fishing NorCal, Topo Maps, California Campground  Reservations, Lassen National Forest camp sites and all the outdoor recreation you can imagine.

Volcanic lands of Lassen National Park are surrounded by Lassen National Forest, which means if you cannot find camping inside the National Park – you can surely find it in the outlying regions – with rivers . The National Park Lassen Hwy 89 is often closed during winter months due to snow, as Diamond Peak & Reading Peak are around 8000′ elevation. In 2011 the south entrance did not open until late summer due to heavy snows.

Lassen Camping

A few Lassen campground sites may be reservable, more info with links below; the rest of the campgrounds in the green lists are on a first come, first serve basis.

  • BUTTE LAKE CAMPING
  • JUNIPER LAKE GROUP CAMP
  • MANZANITA LAKE CAMPRGOUND
  • SUMMIT LAKE CAMPGROUND
  • GURNSEY CREEK
  • HAT CREEK CAMPGROUND

Lassen National Park Campgrounds NPS

Camp Lassen / Lassen Lakes

campground elevation spots veg toilet water info
Lake Fork Campground 6792′ 18 pines vault piped June-Oct
Southwest Walk-In 6700′ 21 pines flush piped open all year
Warner Valley 5650′ several pines vault piped June-Oct

Lassen National Forest Campgrounds NFS

Eagle Lake District

campground elev. spots veg toilet water notes
Bogard Campground 5600′ 22 vault pump May-Oct
Butte Creek Campground 5600′ 20 vault creek May-Oct
Crater Lake Campground 6800′ 17 vault pump dirt road, June-Oct
Goumaz Campground 5200′ 5 vault creek May-Oct
Roxie Peconom Campground 4800′ 10 flush pump May-Oct, walk-in

Roxie Peconom

Hat Creek District

campground elev. spots veg toilet water notes
Big Pine Campground 4500′ 19 pines vault pump April-Oct
Bridge Campground 4000′ 25 pines vault piped April-Oct, fish
Honn Campground 3400′ 6 pines vault no April-Oct, no trailers
Rocky Campground 4000′ 8 pines vault creek April-Oct, fish
Honn Campground
Hat Creek @ Honn Campground

Lake Almanor District

campground elev. spots veg toilet water notes
Alder Creek Campground 3900′ 6 pines vault creek March-Nov
Benner Creek Campground 5562′ 9 pines vault creek May-Nov
Black Rock Campground 2100′ 6 pines vault creek year round, fish
Butte Meadows Campground 4600′ 13 pines vault piped April-Nov
Domingo Springs Campground 5060′ 18 pines vault piped May-Nov
Echo Lake Campground 6440′ disp pines lake May-Nov, no tables
Elam Campground 4400′ 15 pines vault piped April-Nov, fish
High Bridge Campground 5200′ 12 pines vault piped May-Nov, fish
Rocky Knoll Campground 6000′ 18 pines vault piped May-Nov, Silver Lake
Silver Bowl Campground 6000′ 18 pines vault piped May-Nov, Silver Lake
Soldier Creek Campground 4890′ disp pines vault creek May-Nov, fall hunters
South Antelope Campground 2700′ 4 pines vault creek year round
Warner Creek Campground 5040′ 13 pines vault creek May-Nov
West Branch Campground 5000′ 15 pines vault piped May-Nov
Willow Springs Campground 5100′ 14 pines vault creek May-Nov, fall hunters
Willow Lake Campground disp pines lake May-Nov, no tables

A few PG&E Campgrounds can be found near Lake Alamanor, which are managed by the utility company and not listed on National Forest or National Park web sites.

LAKE ALMANOR – PG&E Campgrounds
Southshore @ Canyondam, CA

LAST CHANCE CREEK – PG&E Camp, North of Lake Almanor

BUTT VALLEY Reservoir – PG&E Campgrounds
West of Lake Almanor, CA

Juniper Lake Table
Juniper Lake – Lassen NPS

Lassen National Park

Lassen National Forest

Northern California Topographic Maps

Lassen Area Maps & Books –

Lassen Towns –

California Topo Maps

topo linesCalifornia Terrain

Topographical maps feature the terrain of a wilderness or hiking area, through colored shading & thin contour lines to represent elevations. Park boundaries, trail routes, trail heads & campgrounds are noted, as well as major landmarks like lakes, rivers, creeks, meadows, peaks, canyons, hot springs, waterfalls & all roads (dirt or paved).

Backpackers & hikers must rely on such maps for planning & trekking their journey. Hard copy, printed, waterproof maps are top choice, but topo maps now come in digital format for download as well. DanaMite has recently started including these digital map links within the Total Escape Map Shop – totalescape.net/shop/

Here in California we are lucky to have so much public land available to us for enjoyment. Numerous map vendors make maps for nearly all of the regions across California.

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QUADS: 7.5 minute topographic quadrangle maps, available from the USGS, can be found online w/ Avenza Maps (often for free) and also, direct from the government site https://www.usgs.gov/products/maps/topo-maps

A while back, the NFS offered handy books of these sought-after topo maps. They were compiled into booklet form called an ATLAS, with sturdy covers & a spiral bound. Overall size is close to 9″x12″ & they are much easier to handle than the individual paper maps. Look for Forest Topo Atlases

List of topo maps available for California:

wilderness maps CA kings canyon
conradkid
Hiking the High Sierra @ 12,000 feet above sea level

4×4 Off Roading

 

Off Roading Moab Utah

Originally uploaded by danamight

 

4×4 offroad

When people hear the phrase “off road” a hundred things can come to mind. Granola types envision rednecks, guns & beer cans tearing up the wilderness; while teen boys may like dirt bikes or motocross races; your co-worker digs the rock crawling rigs (on TV); your lesbian pals like to do desert & ghost town exploring in their Jeep & a million families like to camp out with RV & toys in tow. The quads, the sand rails, the rock crawling machines, the custom built buggies. Trophy trucks, rally racing Subies, 4WD camper vans, dirt bikes, the standard stock SUV, some w/ 4-wheel drive and who can forget the ever-freaking-popular jeaps. Sunday drivers sightseeing or hard core dare devil racers can be found in the realm of off-road: Off pavement.

They are ALL off roaders! And they are all unique, custom & no two created equal. There is certainty of it & the passionate fans will tell you. The off roading interest has gained popularity as more & more recreation vehicles become available to the main stream market. And TV shows promote these awesome rigs, the sport of dirt racing, rock crawling & the fantastic terrain. (And if you still watch television, that will soon change!)

Baby boomers seek retirement vacations: compact 4WD camper vans, or smaller RVs capable of trailering an off-road machine; Fathers look for ways to entertain family out of doors, or escape on solo trips (for sanity sake). The off-road sport and interest has literally exploded over the past 20 years w/ media, hobby, competitions & after market products – along with the rising gas & tire prices.

4x4 Ford Camper at a Big Bear Campout
4×4 Ford Camper at a Big Bear Campout

California dirt road heaven

Wheeling

California Back Roads
WHERE TO START?

Plan better trips, learn to really read a topographic map, depart for your trip over-prepared and find new, amazing destinations all over California. Use Total Escape often and get a bumper sticker for your rig!

Many folks drive dirt roads just to get to a trailhead and go hiking, mountain biking or rock climbing. Many backpackers trailheads are indeed located miles off pavement on forest dirt roads.

Some outdoor enthusiasts crave seclusion: peace and quite, away from city life, city folks, all noise… well away from the crowds. Preferring to camp outside of developed campgrounds, which means free camping (mostly on dirt roads). Campfire permits are always required. Many excellent, hidden camp sites can be found on rugged, unpaved back roads – some requiring 4 wheel drive, others not.

Gear Heads: those who value ‘vehicle time’ over ‘real nature’ will literally SIT inside their rigs (almost all day) – enjoying scenery from a safe distance. Picnic spot, viewpoint, yes, but rarely ever seeking out a hike, or a waterfall. Should a break-down occur, these dedicated guys will have their heads under the hoods or crawling underneath, for hours if needbe. Always be prepared with food in the cooler.

Tent Campers
And believe it or not, some off-roaders will not even tent camp! They do not sleep on the ground. They prefer a local lodge in the nearest small town or they could own a luxury RV (towing a trailer w/ the overbuilt Jeep). Talk about gas guzlers.

Now, where are those green buggies?

Forest Roads
Backcountry routes may be signed – high clearance needed, or not. Black diamond, double diamond trail. Yikes 4×4 required, what! Did we miss a sign or take a wrong turn?

SIGNS are not always reliable on the back roads.
Small Signs: get shot at, run over, blown over and washed away with erosion
… so best have a hard copy map (at all times).

California dirt road heaven

In Trinity, locals have been known to remove forest road signs to confuse tourists and prevent traffic in certain directions. I can’t imagine why. Cough, cough, Hyampom!

PVT – private property

This brings us to private ROADS & LAND. Just because a dirt road is located in a forest or rural region doesn’t mean it is open to the public. Generally private lands are well marked w/ ‘No Trespassing’ notices, some fenced and gated. In Baja and in ranching areas in general, public access may be allowed to pass through. Inquire at a local ranger stations for the area you wish to explore.

Do Not Litter

Litter removal 101 should be the norm; Don’t Trash California! Teach your children well. Respect the land and always Tread Lightly! Find more about ECO – CAMPING

TreadLightly

Quatal Canyon Red Dirt Road

smoketreewashes

jeepinpanamint

Dumont Dunes OHV Desert Death Valley
Dumont Dunes OHV / Desert Death Valley Xmas Trip

California Off Road Maps

Jeeping

Dirt roads, backroads, desert trails, OHV routes, single tracks, dunes, fire roads, gravel roads, 4×4 roads

When you wanna explore a new area, California has plenty of public land to offer. Off Road Maps can get you away from the crowds & the main staging areas. Maps can show you prime areas to ride & camp that you may not have ever imagined. Secluded, wide open, or freeway close. Terrain – the endless deserts, the mountain foothills, the higher hills , way above the city. The choice is yours.

Whether you seek secluded stream side camp sites, with some fishing or a dusty, long, desert trail that spans the entire Mojave desert, you can find these secret spots with good old fashioned topographic maps. Hard copies! The real deal. No cell signal? No problem.

4x4 routes

4×4 Panamint Valley has numerous canyons & ridges to conquer

our random list
California off-roading maps:

Jeep Roads Atlas
Benchmark California Atlas


The most trusted full-state book-atlas that Total Escape recommends. When you must have a (hard copy) map for local road trips – Benchmark Atlas is the best one by far.

NFS, USDA
NFSlogo
Forest Atlas:
National Forest Topo Atlas
Spiral bound book of all topographic quads, of select National Forests in California.

delorme
DeLorme California Gazetteer

National Forest Service State Parks California BLM backroads camping jeeping

  • SAN BERNARDINO OHV MAP (outta print)
  • HUNGRY VALLEY OHV MAP (outta print)
  • ANGELES FOREST OHV MAP (outta print)
  • MOUNT PINOS OHV TRAILS (outta print)
  • ROCK CREEK OHV Eldorado

NorCal Backroads & 4-Wheel Drive Trails (book)

SoCal Backroads & 4-Wheel Drive Trails (book)

OHV maps California

California Off Road Areas


Awesome California locations w/ off-road trails nearby. DanaMite has compiled a list of first-hand knowledge information, links, photos, campsites, maps, all revolving around rural California. Check out the ever growing list and get ready to explore the back roads, like never before.

PDF Off Road Maps


OHV area, motor vehicle use, 4×4 camps, dirt trails, forest routes; Download maps for various off-roading areas in California.

Quatal Canyon

What the heck is it ???

4WD = 4 wheel drive
4×4 = (same as above)

2WD = 2 wheel drive
4×2 = (same as above)

AWD = All wheel drive
SUV = Sport Utility Vehicle

MTB = Mountain Bike
MX = Motocross (dirt bike motorcycle)
SNOMO = Snow Mobile (sled machine)

GAS-POWERED RECREATION: The past two decades have emerged with vehicle redesigns from well known brands, creating a number of new “utility vehicles” for the sport of off-roading (otherwise known as, burning gasoline while recreating in the outdoors). Here is a breakdown on the acronyms, but they all basically refer to much of the same “off road type vehicles”.

ATV = All Terrain Vehicle (quad)
MOHUV = Multipurpose Off-Highway Utility Vehicle
ROPS = Roll Over Protection System
ROV = Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle
RUV = Recreational Utility Vehicle
SxS = Side by Side Vehicle (2 seated)
SSV = (same as above)
UTV = Utility Task Vehicle

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All-terrain_vehicle
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Side_by_Side_(UTV)

Common abbreviations for off-road on public lands:

OHV – Off Highway Vehicle
SVRA – State Vehicular Recreation Areas
BLM – Bureau of Land Management
NFS – National Forest (USDA)
MVUM – motor vehicle use map (NFS)

PVT – private land / keep out
MTR – motorized

RD – road
CO – county
RTE – route
SR – state route
FR – forest route / road
EXT – exit
CK – creek
EL – elevation
MT – mountain
STA – station (ranger/fire station)
PO – post office

Big Bear Backroads

Ojai Map Elkins Flat

Around 2012 the National Forest Service printed up a bunch of nice off-road maps for various popular regions of California. Oddly, they told me not to sell them and I never heard anything about them again after that. Not even sure if these above are available to the public, but if you dig around you might find ’em. Call the rangers, they might know.

off road maps

If interested, you could call the ranger station and ask about any local off-road maps, and availability. Mostly they have freebie one page print-outs, black & white — to keep the crowds where they want them. Other times they might have real color, printed maps for sale at the station. Maps that can get you deeper into the terrain, with wild edges of reality nearby. 4×4 maps, OHV map, MVUM

BLM Maps (Bureau of Land Management)

Government agency that manages large amounts of California land. Public lands that do not fall into the National Forest or National Park or State Park realm. BLM oversees some mountain areas, river canyons and primarily, desert regions within California. Visit a local BLM office to see the selection of area maps.

Turtle Mountain Rd
Turtle Mountain Road

Decent & FREE: dirt road maps can be found at BLM ranger station, south of NEEDLES, on US Hwy 95. Explore Turtle Mountain and find free camping IN ROUTE; Eastern California Desert.

Spicer Reservoir

spicer terrain


Spicer Meadow Reservoir

Spicer Meadows, Spicer Reservoir, Rd #7N01
Spicer Lake, Stanislaus National Forest

lake elevation 6418′
227 surface acres

public boat ramp
hiking trail around lake
more lakes nearby

Ebbetts Pass Sierra Hwy 4

Ancient volcanic peaks mix with Sierra Nevada granite rock, pine forests and fresh, clear, clean mountain water! California, of course.

Stanislaus Forest Road #7N01 leads down from Highway 4 to this popular series of alpine lakes and reservoirs. Camping, fishing, hiking and mountain biking. Sailing, canoeing, kayaking, swimming, floating and fishing are also popular water activities.

Rules of the Reservoir:
10 mph speed limit on Western Arm.
No motorized boating in Eastern Arm.
Camp only in developed Campgrounds.

NFS
2 NFS Campgrounds at west end of lake:

  • Spicer Campground (60 sites)
  • Spicer Group Camp (75 people max)
  • Campgrounds only open June-September. Some campsites at the campground are wheelchair accessible.

    Additionally, Stanislaus River Campground w/ only 8 sites, is located just off the main access road #7N01, right near the river.

    spicer lake shore

    Spicer #7N01

    Numerous smaller lakes in the region make this a hot spot for summer vacations. Union and Utica Reservoirs (both with dirt road access) are good for kayaking and canoes, while power or sail boats prefer the larger Spicer Lake. Summit Lake and Elephant Rock Lake are perfect for quite picnics and day hikes. Trails (many unmarked) connect the lakes to each other. Area gets buried with snow in winter, so these roads are generally only open half the year.

    More reservoirs and lakes nearby:
    Highland Lakes
    Mosquito Lakes
    Lake Alpine, CA
    (all along Hwy 4)

    Stanislaus National Forest Map USDA
    Stanislaus National Forest Map USDA

    Nearby mountain towns:
    ARNOLD, CA
    BEAR VALLEY, CA
    Lake Alpine, CA

    Northern California Redwoods

    Northern California Coast Hotels & Camps

    redwoods parksThe north coast of California is dubbed the Redwood Empire, and driving north on US Hwy 101 passing the well-known wine country and communities near Clear Lake, means you’ve entered the official redwood region of Cali.

    With over 150 mile stretch between Ukiah & Crescent City, on the Oregon border, coastal redwoods thrive in this wet climate. All along US Highway 101 you can find every assortment of lodging, from standard hotels walking distance to village shops, to small secluded cottages tucked behind a winery. Sonoma & Mendocino vineyards merge on ridge lines, at the edge of oak countryside, with redwood forests & recreational rivers to the north.

    BALD HILLS ROAD: Old logging roads lead way up in elevation, behind Redwood National Park, where you can find free camping spots and firewood piles all over the clearings. A real 4×4 vehicle will be needed in wet or snowy weather conditions. AWD wagons should be cautious of deep mud and know the weather conditions ahead of time. The main gravel/dirt route traverses the Bald Hills range at 3000′ elevation and ‘epic view’ campsites are abundant. Pine Creek Road drops east into Klamath River Canyon down to Klamath Hwy 96.

    Bald Hills Rd

    USAL BEACH: In the olden days, USA Lumber Company had a prime place on the Lost Coast. Now it is a wonderful destination w/ remote beach campground hidden in the trees, next to the redwoods and creek, and the cliffs – and a big sandy beach w/ giant driftwood!

    Towns w/ Redwood Lodging in NorCal – 

    Redwood Parks in NorCal –

    (from south to north, with closest town)

    REDWOOD MAP

     

    Redwood Map Topo

    Topographic hiking and camping maps of the NorCal Redwood region –

    California Wildflower Blooms

    Lupine Oroville
    Wildflowers in California 

    Wildflowers bloom all over California – from the desert in winter months, to the High Sierra in mid summer.  Remember that the timing is everything, since most of these precious, delicate beauties only last a week or so. Out there alone, all day in the bright sunshine, whipping in the seasons strongest breezes. Flora!Ocotillo Joshua Tree

    The higher the elevation, the later the bloom.
    Lower elevation deserts begin to show as early as February and higher elevation peaks thaw in May. Wilderness meadows and flowers can be found in the mountains in summer. Generally in California, Springtime – between MARCH and JUNE is the best viewing time.

    Places to find Wildflowers in California

    West coast wildflower blooms in relation to elevation; Order of bloom is typically

    • low deserts (FEB)
    • high deserts (APRIL)
    • river canyons
    • central valley
    • mountain foothills (MAY)
    • coastal foothills
    • mountain forests (JUNE)
    • high altitude meadows
    • mountain lakes
    • mountain peaks (JULY)

    some recent finds:

    Carrizo Plain Super Bloom – W of Taft, CA

    Klipstein Canyon, Kern County @ Hwy 166Gorman Post Road

    Cottonwood Canyon
    W of New Cuyama, CA

    School House Canyon
    W of New Cuyama, CA

    Figueroa Mountain Rd – Los Padres NF @ Santa Ynez, CA

    Table Mountain – Cherokee Road, N Oroville, CA

     

    Box Canyon @ Mecca, California

    Turtle Mountain Road, Needles, CA

    Mill Creek, Lassen NF

    Lassen Peak Lupine Way HikeNPS
    Lassen NP (mid-to-late summer)

    Lassen Peak Lupine Summer Hikes

    more pages on wildflowers –

    California Wildflowers

    California Golden Poppies

    Poppy Reserve Antelope Valley, LA Co.

    Poppy Stompers

    popstrollin

    Anza Borrego Desert Wildflowers

    Mojave Desert

    7S02 – San Berdu NF

    Fire Safe Trees

    Toro Peak
    Forest Road# 7S02

    Santa Rosa Truck Trail
    San Bernardino National Forest

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

    7S02 up hill

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

    ROUTE CURRENTLY CLOSED? find out on USDA web site link

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

    NFS local camp sites: 

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

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

    toro_campsite

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

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

    San Berdu Idyllwild SoCal
    San Berdu Idyllwild SoCal

    Santa Rosa Wilderness

    San Bernardino National Forest Map

    John Muir Trail Map

    John Muir Wilderness Maps

    Sierra Nevada California / Inyo National Forest & Sierra National Forest

    topo detailsTom Harrison John Muir Map Pack

    This one is the most detailed, easy to read map available for this popular High Sierra region. The maps are compact size 8.5″ x 11″, waterproof & tear resistant, easy to store in a backpack. The pack contains 13 individual sheet maps of the John Muir Wilderness.

    JMT Maps

    Buy JOHN MUIR MAPS on Total Escape!

     

     

    USGS National Forest Service John Muir Wilderness Map

    The Forest Service edition of topo maps for the John Muir Wilderness, including the Sequoia-Kings Canyon Wilderness as well. Old fashioned paper maps, large, folded, 2 pieces in one envelope.

    Area maps surrounding the John Muir Wilderness:

    john muir

    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 –

    California Off Road Areas

    4x4 Sierra

    The list below is of awesome California locations that do have off-road trails surrounding them. Some destinations listed are heavy use off-road – with OHV parks or camping nearby, while others are simply scenic dirt backroads or forest roads for easy driving. Topographic maps can be found for most areas, and should have all roads displayed, dirt and paved routes, as well as campgrounds, hiking trails and trailheads.

    SoCal 4x4 Big Bear

    This California “off road towns” list was originally part of the California Off Road Maps page, but it surely deserves it’s own unique post, since it is an ever expanding list. Ongoing.

    Searching for Off Road Parks inside California?

    Try these links –
    State Vehicular Recreation Areas
    California OHV Parks

    OHV Yields To All

    Borrego Valley

    Hiking Mount Whitney

    Mt Whitney Trail / Mount Whitney Map

    mt whitney mapWhen the snow melts in the High Sierra, the rush is on! This is one of the most popular backpacking trips in the Eastern Sierra, as Mt Whitney is the highest peak (14505′ elevation) in the contiguous United States of America.

    Day hikes to the summit should only be attempted if you are in excellent physical shape & used to high altitude hiking. There are so many folks trying to hike this sought-after peak in the warmer summer months (MAY-OCT) that the National Forest has put tight restrictions on these Mount Whitney trails. You must obtain a Wilderness hiking permit for this hike & that requires waiting in a long line of outdoor enthusiasts that also seek this prime destination.

    The Lone Pine Ranger station holds an annual Whitney trail LOTTERY, where you must apply a year in advance & be granted a permit before you can set foot on this popular hiking route.

    An alternate backpacking route to Mt Whitney is the southern ridge line from the Cottonwood Lakes trailhead, but you still must verify with local authorities for permits & Wilderness passes.

    The Alabama Hills, between US Hwy 395 @ Lone Pine CA and the Whitney Portal offers camping and mountain biking trails with excellent views of Mount Whitney from below. A short drive up to the portal & you can stand in the waterfall mist & then do a day hike up to Lone Pine Lake.

    Now that we have you salivating for this epic adventure, you can start your dreaming & real planning by ordering hiking topo maps of the region. Then after you have thoroughly reviewed the maps, the terrain (as well as your own physical condition), you can contact the Inyo National Forest / Lone Pine ranger office for more specifics on dates & details. This may take years of planning to make it happen.

    lone pine roads

    The Alabama Hills sit at the base of Mt Whitney, California

    Guadalupe Canyon Hot Springs

    Guadalupe Canyon Baja Hot Springs

    Canon de Guadalupe

    Baja Hot Springs Camping Resort

     

    Baja California Hot Tub

    40 miles SW of Mexicali – Laguna Salada off Mexican Highway 2

    Guadalupe Canyon Oasis
    Palm Canyon Hot Spring Camping Resort
    619-639-7597

     

    Off road destination, palm canyon in Baja California Norte
    East of San Diego
    SW of El Centro / Mexicali

    Imagine a palm oasis canyon in a remote area of the Baja desert; Cool springs that feed the lush landscape with huge boulders & cliff diving waterfalls. With each campsite featuring it’s very own custom hot springs tub. This place was a paradise 20 years ago, but is now over-developed w/ large groups, parties and camping families. If you can handle the 30+ miles of unimproved dirt roads, this spot is worth a visit mid-week. Winter months are prime time to visit the desert. Temperatures are moderate, days are pleasant & midweek has minimal tourists. Avoid holiday weekends as crowds a can get rowdy and disrupt the peaceful setting. Summer is triple digit heat for months. This canyon is hard to reach and inside a third world country, but well worth the distant journey.

    Baja MapsPlenty of great hiking and petroglyph canyons, cool pools and waterfalls, granite boulders, soothing warm waters & gorgeous desert scenery. Summers are usually roasting out here, so plan your vacation accordingly. Palalpas (built for shade) add to the charm & unique look. Each campsite is unique & has a different lay out. Reservations are recommended.

    A family run set of campgrounds within a steep palm canyon. Hot Springs are piped to individual pools at each campsite for a maximum of privacy. A cold creek runs through the canyon as well, feeding the palm grove below & waterfalls way up canyon. A desert oasis set upon the slopes of the Sierra Juarez Mountains in Baja.

    getting there is a journey –

    Recommended high clearance vehicle, sport utility vehicle, or truck. The last 35 miles of the trip is through rough & rugged sandy roads.

    nearest towns –

    Guided tours to Guadalupe Canyon can be booked thru Baja Trek. We are no longer offering Baja California trips with Total Escape Adventures

    Baja hot spring photos from Total Escape Adventures trips –
    FEB 2000
    NOV 2000
    APR 2001
    NOV 2001
    NOV 2002

    Lazy Afternoon in Baja

    Pool Reflections 5

    4×4 Rock Crawling

    poppin

    Rock Crawling has gained massive exposure in the two last decade with new suspensions, after market part for nicer rigs & of course, the main stream media. Red Bull, Skyjacker & other corporate sponsors have dug their hands into this new sport & the profits.

    Crawlin’ is the off road hobby of wheelin’ well built rigs over the rocky terrain and obstacles, instead of around it. Sandstone walls, granite boulders of the High Sierra, hand made “rock gardens” in the Mojave, practice runs @ the local OHV parks.

    Breaking things is the norm in this game. Expect this past time addiction to cost a bundle – on auto parts & on your free time. On the trail repairs are common, so go prepared w/ your tools, overnight gear & your crawling buddies (as back up).

    From the adventure lands of Moab, Utah to the Mojave Desert of SoCal, rock crawling is not about speed, but all about the delicately chosen lines & slowness. The technique, the rigs & preferably no body damage. Just get rid of the body!

    How slow can you go? How high can you handle?

    Popular rock crawling areas around the Southwest U.S. –

    California OHV Trail Maps

    OHV Routes, Motorcross & ATV Maps

    local boys Los Padres

    Eastern Sierra Mountains

    Eastern Sierra Mountains / Eastern Sierras California

    mount tom

    Wilderness seeker John Muir called the Eastern Sierra, the range of light. It’s desery & drastic. Tons of granite & wild-ness. The impressive, tallest peak in the lower 48, Mount Whitney towers at elevation 14888′ over the Owens River Valley. Death Valley meets mountains. Ancient volcanoes & fresh granite. Creeks are alive throughout summer. Alpine lake hikes & their wild flowers are incredible. Horseback trails, rentals, pack trips are very popular. Total Escape even list high country Inyo 4×4 routes, that overlook Bishop.

    Eastern Sierra forest & parks –
    Inyo National Forest
    Toiyabe National Forest – north (Carson)
    Toiyabe National Forest – south (Bridgeport)

    Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest

    Ancient Bristlecones

    inyo maps

    Eastern Sierra maps & trails –

    Eastern Sierra towns –
    Aspendell, Big Pine, Bishop, Crowley Lake, June Lake, Lee Vining, Lone Pine, Mammoth, Olancha, Toms Place

    south lake bishop

    cottonwood lakes