With mild weather for most of the year and miles upon miles of wilderness to explore, San Diego County is considered one of the country’s top spots for off-roading. There are trail options for every kind of off-road vehicle and various skill levels, whether you’re looking for a pleasant jaunt through the hills or a thrilling, rock-crawling adventure. Not sure where to go? Here’s a list of some popular spots within the county—of course, once you reach the desert and beyond, a whole new world of off-roading opens up.
Proctor Valley Road
Just east of Chula Vista, the five-mile dirt trail that starts where Proctor Valley Road’s pavement ends offers amazing countryside views as it winds around the south side of Mount Miguel. The relatively flat, easy-to-navigate trail drops you in Jamul, and in early spring (or whenever the rainy season ends), you’ll be surrounded by gorgeous wildflowers popping up everywhere.
Otay Mountain Truck Trail
This 15-mile trek up and over Otay Mountain calls for a 4-wheel drive vehicle even though the narrow roads are somewhat maintained. The main trail features decent entry-level terrain, but you’ll want to take advantage of the challenging side-action of heavily rutted spur trails. Either way, the three entrances to the trail all converge at the mountain’s 3,500-foot summit, offering excellent views of the ocean and Mexico.
Boulder Creek Road
One of the longer adventure trails in the county, Boulder Creek Road is about 25 miles from start to finish, starting just west of Descanso and ending just southwest of Julian. You’ll enjoy scenic chaparral-covered mountaintops sprinkled with granite boulders, and views to the west stretch all the way to the Point Loma peninsula on clear days.
Anderson Truck Trail
One of the more popular off-roading spots in the county is relatively close to civilization. Starting in Alpine on Anderson Road and ending at Peutz Valley Road, the trail winds through the hills to offer a spectacular view of the El Capitan Reservoir (even though it’s looking a little low these days). There are also several side roads to explore, plus ample mud holes after the rain if that’s your thing.
Nate Harrison Grade
For a taste of extreme elevation gain while off-roading, check out this trail that starts at the bottom of Pauma Valley (about ¾ mile east of Casino Pauma) and winds through oak and pine forests to the top of Palomar Mountain. The trail is steep—so make sure your vehicle is well equipped for unpaved inclines. Amazing views from the summit span all the way to the Pacific.
Bear Valley Road
You can get started off-roading right off the freeway on this trail (take the Buckman Springs Road exit on the I-8), which runs along the ridge tops for great views of Cottonwood Valley and Bear Valley. Only one vehicle can traverse the trail at a time, but there are plenty of passing places. A note of caution: don’t attempt this trail in wet weather (or after recent rain), as some areas might not be accessible.
Is your vehicle ready for the great off-roading outdoors?
While some of the trails mentioned above can accommodate standard trucks and SUVs, your off-roading experience will be greatly enhanced by tackling tough obstacles and challenging side trails along the way. That means you’ll need a suspension lift kit, which will increase clearance and traction and make room for larger off-roading tires. Lifted trucks and SUVs also look awesome, so if you want a high quality suspension lift kit, contact the lift kit experts at Stereo Depot. We have locations in San Diego and El Cajon, and we offer high quality work at affordable prices. Contact us today!