Doran Canyon

Barstow, California (San Bernardino County)
Last Updated: 05/11/2018
5/5 (4 reviews)
Information
Nearby Trails
Status: Open
Difficulty: 7-10
(MODERATE - EXTREME)
Length: 2.2 miles
Highest Elevation: 3200 feet
Duration: About 3 hours
Shape of Trail: Connector
Best Direction to Travel: North
Nearest Town: Barstow
Nearest Town w/ Services: Barstow
Official Road Name:
Management Agency: BLM Barstow Field Office & San Bernardino National Forest
District:
Distance:
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Highlights

Highlight: Doran Canyon

Doran Canyon of the Odessa / Doran Loop of the Mojave Desert is one of the most difficult rock crawling off-road trails near Barstow California next to the Calico Ghost Town. When traveling this area, you will notice that the mostly desert landscape is very different than its counterpart Odessa Canyon. Even though these two offroad trails are near the same in difficulty throughout the main body of the trail. Doran has one big difference when it comes to the trail drive, that is "Doran Gate Keeper". Doran's GateKeeper is an insanely difficult off-road obstacle with rocks larger than your vehicle. The holes between the rocks are so large that it is common for people to put their vehicle on its side between the rocks. It's a spectacle to watch extreme off-road enthusiasts try this legendary obstacle as the rocks look like they are swallowing the vehicle whole. It is common for a Jeep Wrangler or Toyota to disappear in the gap only to receive massive body damage when trying to recover the vehicle out of the holes. But the rest of the trail is no walk in the park, with several large waterfalls and many off-camber tight areas, Doran Canyon will test your driving skills and vehicle to its limits.

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Route Information

Technical Rating: (7-10)
(MODERATE - EXTREME)

Severe conditions. Extreme caution recommended. Impassable by stock vehicles. Winching required. Trail building necessary. May be impassable. Impassable under anything but ideal conditions. Vehicle damage probable. Personal injury possible. Extreme caution necessary.

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Description

Doran Canyon is a rock crawling trail for the experienced drivers with built rigs. The trail offers a 6-foot waterfall, a narrow off-camber canyon just wider than your Jeep, and the hardest obstacle in the area... Doran Canyon's GateKeeper. Which is easy a 10 rated obstacle at the lower end of the trail but this obstacle does have a bypass around it. There is no right vehicle for Doran Canyon. Short wheelbase Jeeps will be able to maneuver the tight obstacles better while the longer wheelbase vehicles like JKU's and Toyotas will do better on some of the waterfalls. Either way, there is something on this trail that will be hard for almost any offroad vehicle.

Waypoints

1. Bypass Around Gatekeeper Trailhead and Mud Caves

If the Gate Keeper isn't for you, then there is an alternate route to Doran Canyon that is much easier. It is easy to miss but can be found right before the Mud Arches on the west hill. The bypass around Doran Canyons Gate Keeper can be found here at Doran Gate Keeper Bypass Trail.

2. Doran Gate Keeper - Optional (Extreme / Hard Alternate Trailhead)

Doran's Gate Keeper is easily in the top 5 list of the hardest obstacles that a vehicle can do under its own power in the United States. With rocks and holes larger then Jeeps, it is easy to see why the only way up is to put the vehicle on its side a few times. If you have a built rig, a strong roll cage, and don't care about a repair bill, then this obstacle is for you. ***DO NOT MOVE OR STACK ROCKS IN THIS OBSTACLE, IF YOU ARE UNABLE TO MAKE THIS OPTIONAL OBSTACLE UNDER YOUR OWN POWER, TAKE THE BYPASS. DO NOT RUIN THIS SPOT FOR THE NEXT PERSON.*** The bypass around Doran Canyons GateKeeper can be found here at Doran Gate Keeper Bypass Trail.

3. Off-Camber Area (0.1 mi)

Once you drop into Doran, you are introduced to your first obstacle right away. This narrow but off-camber and articulated area is a lot of fun but can also be costly on the repairs.

4. Narrow Canyon (0.2 mi)

This one section can either be easy or a nightmare. Since there is only enough space for one line, you have to hope there isn't anything you can't clear on the path. Make sure you have good under armor because there is a good chance you will use it here.

5. 5 Foot Waterfall (0.6 mi)

Probably the second hardest obstacle on the trail, this 5 foot waterfall is a doozy. Since the wall is a near 90 degrees with sand on top, some rock stacking may be required for even the most built rigs.

6. Hard Spot - Optional Harder Route (0.7 mi)

The trail that keeps on giving. This is the 3rd waterfall from the bottom. This obstacle offers two lines - the easy route and the hard route. The hard line requires you to navigate a vertical V notch and then make a hard left over another V notch. Be ready for the body damage because it is on its way.

7. Hard Spot - Easier Route (0.7 mi)

The trail that keeps on giving. This is the 3rd waterfall from the bottom. This obstacle offers two lines - the easy route and the hard route. The easy line (if you want to call it that) has many large 36 inch plus boulders in the path and a 4 foot waterfall that is off-camber. If you take your time and have a little help form a spotter, most vehicles can make it through without body damage.

8. Bismarck Mine (1.5 mi)

One of the larger mines in the area, the Bismarck Mine was closed (dynamited) to prevent any incidents inside. Even though it was closed, there are still plenty of areas to explore. As always with mines, travel in pairs, make sure people know where you are, and have a flashlight.

9. North End of Doran (2.1 mi)

On top of the hills above Doran, this spot provides a great 360 degree view of the area.

10. Odessa Canyon Connector (2.2 mi)

The trail connects to Odessa Canyon.

Directions to Trailhead

Trailhead Coordinates: 34.943442, -116.858942

From Highway 15 in Barstow, exit the second Ghost Town Road off-ramp. Take Ghost Town Road north roughly 2.5 miles passing Mule Canyon on the right. Turn right onto the dirt road (Odessa Canyon), and you will see a sign just off the road with a map (34.939767, -116.858813). Enter Odessa / Doran Canyon and stay on the dirt road for roughly 3/4 of a mile until you reach a Y in the canyon, then go left. Please note, the canyon splits to the right. This is where you will find Odessa Canyon.

Camping

Calico offers several types of camping. The area around Calico Ghost Town is BLM land. This allows you to tent camp anywhere you like with wood camp fires. Please keep in mind that there are lots of trails out there and try not to camp on a trail. Also, remember to pack up all of your trash and take it with you. For those who enjoy something a little more comfortable, you can easily drive RV's & 5th Wheels into the canyons Odessa, Doran, and Mule. If roughing it isn't your thing, Calico also offers a campground with hookups and cabin rentals. You can find more information about the campground and cabins at http://cms.sbcounty.gov/parks/Parks/CalicoGhostTown.aspx
Camping: Doran Canyon

Writer Information

Josh Noesser

Mapping Crew - California
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Joshua Noesser grew up in Southern California but has lived in different parts of the country during his young adult life. Josh was first turned to four wheeling when he road with one of his friends dad up Surprise Canyon in the Panamint Valley at age14. After nearly 3 different roll overs later and a half dozen intense waterfalls, Josh was hooked. At 16 he purchased his first Jeep a CJ 7 and by 17 was putting his first locker in it. Currently, Josh is the owner and CEO of Nybble, an IT Solutions Company. This isn't your normal IT company where everyone stays in and plays video games. Nybble's average company trip is out on the trails since a good amount of his staff enjoy wheeling too. As Josh likes to say, he offers the only IT Company with the ability to provide services in extreme locations. "If you want a server at the top of The Hammers, we will take care of that for you." But IT isn't Josh's only talent. He also has a very extensive background in Off-Road Marking, Mechanical Engineering, Automotive Tech, and Fabrications. Today you can find Josh out on the trail behind the wheel in one of his three different off-road vehicles. See the vehicles below for more information. If you ever run into Josh, please say high, he is a very friendly person and is always happy to have a new person join the group.

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Trail Reviews (7)

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on: 07/19/2018
Rating:
I've done this every year with Wranglerforum (the Doran-Odessa Loop) and it never ceases to be fun! Don't try this trail without someone experienced getting through the obstacles. Also, you'll need a 4" lift, lockers, and someone in the group experienced in recovery or getting a stalled vehicle up the waterfalls. Other than that, it's a piece of cake! While in my opinion the risk of body damage is low, these are trails that require someone with an expert level of competence.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on: 05/09/2018
Rating:
Love this place. Tons of fun. All the obstacles are so much fun. Can't wait to go back after it cools off. My Falken Tires did their job and more.... #FalkenTires

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on: 01/12/2018
Rating:
Went out to record the trail in 4k. Had a blast

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on: 12/01/2016
What a great trail. I really enjoyed the waterfall obstacle and the tight canyon just before it! I was in a JKU with 35s and a 2.5" Rock Krawler lift and struggled at the waterfall obstacle just a bit, but it was still a blast! The Bismarck Mine was really unique with all the open tunnels - they were everywhere!

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on: 11/03/2016
First, run on this trail and what a treat. First stop was on the bypass around the gatekeeper. You can see how deep this wash is with the guy in red standing in the bottom below us. This is a challenge for even the best-built rig, would recommend a buggy because you are sure to do some body damage. Another photo shows the upper ledge of gatekeeper. The challenges of this trail brings the recommendation of at least 1 locker, skid plates, lift, at least 33's, winch and experience. The trail is loose rock, sand, small to large boulders, narrow canyon, and waterfalls. The waterfalls can be difficult to climb so the need for a winch or strap may come into play. This is a great trail but has the potential for damage. After the fun section of this trail, you'll find the mine (stay on the roads there are multiple tunnels running under you) the mine has multiple openings and if you're adventurous enough you can enter them, use caution and have a rope or something to assist in getting back out of the deeper ones. If you look close enough you might find some silver in the walls.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on: 11/03/2016
This was a first for me wheeling in the state of California and what an experience. This area is definitely unlike anything I have wheeled in before. Doran Canyon was a very fun trail with many sections of larger rocks to weave around and a good amount of waterfalls to give it the extra thrill. Let's just say it was surprising that the only damage was one sidewall slash. This trail is not a walk in the park. The rock is very sharp and unforgiving making every obstacle a mental challenge as much as it challenges your rig. It is highly recommended that if you can't crawl up these obstacles, use your winch! There is no shame in winching if it means saving your rig from damage. The optional challenge of the Gate Keeper looks like one hell of a ride. No one in our group was quite rigged for that 10 rated obstacle. The mines at the top were pretty amazing to see. I've seen mines, but none that you can just wander into aimlessly, some for many many yards. Be sure to bring a flashlight!

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on: 02/16/2015
Rating:
Little Gate Keeper Action