Painted Gorge Road

full-limited Icon
4.7/5 (3 reviews)
Ocotillo, California (Imperial County)
Last Updated: 01/05/2023
Trail Types
Scout Route
Full Trail Guide

Preview Trail Icon
Preview Trails

Limited Trail Icon
Upgrade to Unlock
Limited Access/All-Access
Scout Route
Start a 7-day Free Trial

Trail Information


In the desert of California is a hidden gem that many don't know about and should be on everyone's bucket list. Painted Gorge near San Diego in the hills just outside of Ocotillo off of the 8 Freeway can easily be said to be one of these bucket-list trails. The natural beauty of this trail with its vibrant colors and unique dirt and stone formations is definitely on the list of the most beautiful trails in Southern California. The road starts out a nice graded dirt road that takes you back into the hills. As the hills begin to close in, the colors seem to come out. Now it can also be said that this trail only gets harder as you continue so it is best to understand that even though a stock 4x4 can do this trail, most people who drive 4wd vehicles might not appreciate the last section as it climbs up this spectacular shelf road up the narrow canyons to the top of Carizzo Mountain. So if you are looking for some adventure, planning your epic overland adventure, or just needing what could be the ultimate day trip, check out this trail and you won't be disappointed. There are two parts to this trail; there is the lower half that leads to camping (this one) and the upper half that climbs up the canyon. Note that the upper half is behind a gate and that gate is closed during certain parts of the year for the Longhorn Sheep breeding season.

Trail Difficulty and Assessment

Trail Navigation

Check out our South Carrizo Creek - Anza Borrego (13.46 mi away) trail guide for an All-Access Preview!

Trail Reviews

4.7/5 (3)
User Avatar
Official Crew
inline-aa Icon
Rated 5/5
Visited: 01/05/2023

The upper canyon is closed for the winter, but most of the best views are just a short hike past the gate. Still worth the stop and some great camping near the end of this trail.
Rated 4/5
Visited: 11/24/2022
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

Very easy trail. Canyon is worth seeing
User Avatar
Official Crew
inline-aa Icon
Rated 5/5
Visited: 02/10/2021

Didn't realize this area was here. I want to go back and make a weekend of it.

From the Community

Start a free trial and get this level of detail on every trail guide
Start Free Trial