Best Jeeping Trails In California

Right now, with so much of the country blanketed in snow and ice, it probably seems like a logical decision to just cozy up with cocoa and hunker down inside until the world thaws again. Yes, even those of us who love to go out and go off-roading as often as possible. Even with the doors on and the hardtop firmly in place, the cold and ice make off-roading an unpleasant and potentially dangerous venture. So what’s a Jeepster to do?

Well, it might sound a bit tongue in cheek of us, but maybe it’s time to follow the advice of our elders. If you live somewhere snowy, head south for the winter to fill your outdoor cravings. Or, more specifically, head south and west. California has some stunning oceanic expanses and mountain vistas that are best viewed when you get off the beaten track. If you’ve got the exploratory itch running through your veins, load up your Jeep and head to California.

Staying Safe

First and foremost, as always, it’s important to know the rules wherever you choose to go for your off roading adventures. California has a wealth of trails and recreation opportunities available, and they make the knowledge pretty easy to acquire. Be sure to check the California Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation website to get the latest information on permits, trail closures, and all those other important details so you can stay safe and legal. They even have a helpful section directed at out of state guests who want to partake of the off-roading adventures available. Most of California’s public off-roading areas require a specialized permit, but your state’s OHV permit may carry over according to California’s laws, so starting with the California OHMVR website will start your expedition off on the right foot.

Watch The Weather

The other big factor, especially if you’re looking for winter-time off-roading, is going to be the weather. California is a long state, so don’t expect the northern end up near the Bay Area to be as mild and temperate as the weather you’ll find down near Los Angeles. What this means for winter Jeeping adventures, specifically, is that you can expect more trail closures in the north end of the state when winter rolls around. AllTrails has an interactive map of California’s public off-roading trails, complete with reviews and photos from other Jeepsters so you can get a better idea of what you’re getting into.

Get Lost In Nature

California is way up there in regards to states with huge tracts of national and state-owned lands that have been set aside for recreational purposes. The hardest part of finding somewhere to adventure with your Jeep is probably going to be finding a way to narrow down the wealth of options! Below are a few great options to get you started, but explore the wealth of other options out there to see which trails best fit your taste for adventure.

Sequoia National Forest & National Park

Roughly at the midline of the state lies both Sequoia National Forest and Sequoia National Park. There are a wealth of different trail options, ranked by technical skill necessary, that span both regions. And, since they abut the Sierra Nevadas, you’re practically guaranteed some spectacular scenery. If you’re more interested in an easy sightseeing drive, try the Smith Meadows Trail or the Buck Rock Fire Lookout Trail.

Big Sur

Are you feeling a bit more beachy thanks to all the snow around your home? Head toward the coast and explore challenging terrain and stunning ocean views throughout the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park area. If you’re up for a bit of a drive and you time your visit right, Tassajara Hot Springs is a couple hours away and offers some great relaxation opportunities after an action-packed day.

Johnson Valley

Located further south, Johnson Valley is a favorite off-roading area among Jeepsters. There is a range of different terrain spanning the region, from sand dunes to massive rock formations. Try The Hammers to explore some stunningly wild landscape, and don’t miss out on a visit to the entertainingly named Soggy Dry Lake.

Lost Coast

The name alone is enough to transport you to an adventure story worthy of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. The Lost Coast is an explorer’s dream. Attempts to run railroads and even highways through the area were never really successful, so now the area is an off-roader’s playground. This is an area that often needs a bit more technical proficiency, as well as the high clearance and 4-wheel drive capabilities of your Wrangler.

Prep For Your Trip

Whether you visit during the dead of winter for a little extra vitamin D, or you pop your top and ditch your doors to bask in California’s summer sunshine, your off-roading trip will take a bit of preparation. If you’re in it for summer sun, grab your TopLift Pros Jeep joist tool to remove your hardtop and store it safely until your return. Learn more here and get adventuring today!

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