My Trail Reviews (32)
(within last 6 months)
This is our 4th trip through Pinkham Canyon and it has not changed much since the original mapping except for 1 thing, the wildlife. We entered Pinkham at Thermal Canyon, about 1/3 along the trail and headed North towards the Cottonwood Visitor Center. There is a lot of soft, fairly deep sand and speed or 4WD will get you through it. We happened to stop on a soft spot and found our rear wheels spinning out and digging in and we needed to engage 4WD to pull ourselves out. We were surprised at the amount of jack rabbits and cotton tail rabbits running across the road in front of us and commented there must be a lot of predators around and sure enough a few minutes later a coyote ran across the road. But by far the highlight of this trip was seeing a large horned stag deer running along side us. We barely had time reach for the phone and snap a video from inside the Jeep.
We had recently driven 2N93 and decided since it was on our way home to drive it again but starting at the Big Bear end this time. For almost its entire length its covered in rock, perhaps 3-4" size stones. Its a very very bumpy ride even when aired down. It was also busy this weekday, passing 6 dirt bikes, 2 vehicles and 1 jogger coming in the opposite direction. Prone to slides, these are evident in a few places on the trail and one cleared recently which I included a photo of.
A section of Holcomb under repair was planned to be opened 8/28 so holding our breath sure enough it was at least opened by the day of our trip. Being the easy trail it is makes for a nice sightseeing drive especially in the great weather we had today. We saw deer and a inquisitive fawn who inched closer but was quickly lead away by the mother but with some space between us the deer seemed only mildly concerned. The Crab Flat Campground was open and only 1 tent in the entire prepared sites. Some sites were posted as open but many were posted as reserved. Camping was $24/night. One of my favorite spots on the road was around way point 13 and coming upon a very large meadow with dozens of horses grazing. It was right up there with the crushed car:).
Middle Control Rd is a connector from Hwy 38 to get to other trails at its end like Clarks Grade or Seven Pines and a paved Seven Pines to the east. A very well maintained flat wide road well trafficked. If coming from Hwy 38 be sure to look behind you for the falls at way point 4.
We entered at Baldwin Lake on our way to Rattlesnake Canyon Rd which is way point 1 on the map. Hikers and 4wds in both directions on this road. Long sections of exposed rock will prove right your decision to air down. We stopped and looked for evidence of the Old Pontiac down the hills but it was cleaned up nicely it appears.
A very well maintained and marked road on the south side of Big Bear with huge expansive views of the lake and town. Heavily used by Big Bear hikers and mountain bikers. We saw forest service difficulty ratings signage for vehicles of Blue. This road should be Forest service rated Green only. We passed several passenger vehicles such a Toyota Camry coming up the hill from Big Bear. Be careful and watch for bikers and hikers and be considerate of the dust you trail. Even on this weekday, we came across at different times eight mountain bikers on the trail. The Deer Group campground, off the road a bit at way point 7, was closed, surrounded with "Do Not Enter" tape.
We entered Clark's Grade from the south. At this trail head there was permanent flip sign that said "Trail Closed Ahead". I'm not sure that what was about but the trail was open and drive able. The trail was a more rocky then I remember from my last drive across. Some serious rock slides across the road had been removed in a couple of places and you could see the potential for more slides likely when it becomes wet. I can see why this road is seasonaly closed in the winter. At way point 6, the "Rough Spot", we used 4wd just to be safe. At way point 7 to turn the corner and its such a dramatic change of scenery to be suddenly surround by pine trees.
We choose Rattlesnake Canyon as its shown as green or easy on the TOR map and we discovered it is anything but. Expecting typical sandy desert track we found ourselves in a very difficult narrow large rock strewn valley. I think that section is actually Rattlesnake canyon. Before you take this trail realize there are NO BYPASS's to the difficult sections. It either turn around or push through. We came in the opposite direction of the authors map and on coming upon the first obstacle at the south entrance to the canyon (N34° 16.856' W116° 39.539') it looked impassible but walking it revealed a doable path with a sharp right angle turn requiring a Y turn to make. We had a lifted Jeep with 34" tires and at this point and further north on the trail there are other obtacles we took some hits to the armor underneath but at the end of the day no visible damage on the outside. At times any indication of a trail disappears and you driving on a rocky dry creek bed with no visible tire tracks but impossible to get lost in the narrow canyon. It reminded a lot of the TOR map colored orange Berdoo Canyon in the Joshua Tree National Park. That all said if your up to the driving challenge its a beautiful and fun offroad challenging drive. The canyon rock formations are striking and the southern entrance is through a beautiful Joshua Tree forest. Water was running down the center of the canyon and we counted about 18 cattle grazing and watering. Still very narrow one needs to gentle move forward to persuade the cattle off the path. Towards the end of the road near 247 its easy to follow the road onto a private ranch at N34° 20.378' W116° 41.629' be sure to keep left (if heading north). At Burns Canyon intersection, where we began the road to Rattlesnake the temperature was 88 degrees and when we got to Hwy 247 it was 108 degrees. Be aware there is no cover for miles around near the intersection of Rattlesnake and Hwy247 and it was too hot to air up and reconnect. We decided to drive west on Hwy 247 and at about 10 miles found a park in Lucern Valley where we pulled over, aired up and reconnected in the comfort of the shade.
We joined this trail at waypoint 4 and going in the opposite direction of the TOR mapping and heading towards Hidden Valley Wash.. Soft
sand and some undulations near waypoint 2 (see picture) and you just keep getting further away from it all deeper in the desert.
I entered Crucero rd at waypoint 13 and in the opposite direction of the route here. I fairly flat road with occasional speed bumps. The most obvious feature of this road is driving across a dry lake bed. This section can be very fast. There are some semblance of road markers but the best marker is to follow the tracks. The road comes out in Ludlow where you can get gas and food. The DQ there was closed.
This is a wonderful trail. Interesting and out of the way. By that I mean you can and look west through binoculars and not see a power line, structure or cell tower.......thats where your heading. The only sign if the trail your on. I appreciate the TOR map or else I might not have done this trail. Its fairly well marked with signs widely space but....its still easy to take a wrong turn.......I did. I knew something was wrong when I no longer saw road signs. Some backtracking and I found the somewhat hidden right turn and was back on track. Be careful to stay right at waypoint 6.
We strung several trails together starting with AC9475 to ultimately get to Cucero Rd. and then further into the Mojave to camp and watch the Perseid meteor shower. We went in the opposite direction of the TOR review. For us the trail started right off the 15 and was an easy flat road that quickly leads you west and away from civilization. We saw some fire rings along the way where others camped.
We took Broom Flat on our way to Burns Canyon. It was an easy trail. Near the intersection of Burn Canyon my Garmin GPS showed roads that were not longer open. These roads have been closed for a long time from their state of decay and blocked with large boulders. So the GPS was asking me to take roads no longer available. We kept pushing on and after a wrong turn to a dead end. When we turned around we got to the intersection for Burn Canyon.
This trail is the top of our list to take visitors to display the variety of California landscape. We went in a direction opposite of the TOR map. Coming down from the dense pine trees of Big Bear we drove through Joshua Trees sharing the land with Pine Trees then all out Sonoran Desert. I thought the topography and scenery through it all was beautiful. Even after the TOR trail description ends (begins in my case) there are still miles of dirt road and I still very interesting geography and scenery. Homes, some hovels some nice, dot the area after the trails end. Its interesting to see how they live. They appear to have water delivered and providing their own power. At 100F no one was outside. The trail was easy with several opportunities to try other more challenging routes or just play areas. One I remember 2N70Y is Forest Service rated Black Diamond (its on TOR). Around the mining areas there are huge reddish tailing mounds that have become play areas. The old Pontiac mentioned in the report at waypoint 3 is gone. The heavy gates blocking mine entrance and warning signs we could not find and we even doubled back to check again. These must have since been removed. A closed off mine entrance was visible from the road. Interesting within this mine entrance was a Joshua Tree taking hold.
A top tip: Print out the TOR map and waypoints and bring it along. My wife very much enjoyed tracking along and read the descriptions at each waypoint. Kudos to the author for putting in putting in the time to research and provide interesting descriptions of the mine area.
We noticed the smoke above the mountains from the Apple Fire and were concerned but a quick investigation revealed there was no threat to Big Bear and all roads were open. FYI the Mill Creek Ranger Station on Hwy 34 is closed where we thought we ask about the fire.
This is a wonderful trail to take to get away. Open only to street legal vehicles. Inspiring views and lush forest around the meadows. Much of the trail not in the meadow area is very rocky. Easy but rocky. Airing down makes it much more comfortable. In the Meadow we saw the gate to the Green Canyon trail was open (it had been locked on previous trips). We noticed several trails off of Wild Horse that perhaps the local TOR Mapper will get to. Lots of exploring of trails can be had around the meadows. As you get closer to Big Bear there was lots of folks walking or running the trail...some with headphones and oblivious to us so be careful in that area.
Heres a tip, we printed out the map and waypoints to take with us and my wife enjoyed tracking the trip and reading comments for each waypoint.
The trail is rated Forest Service Blue and probably about right. We took the opposite direction from the TOR map. Waypoint 6 called the shelf is very intimidating. Reading old reviews I noticed I was the last to review in 2018 and I agree, of course I agree with myself!. The trail at this point narrow road with a steep fall off. There is one section of the shelf in particular that has large bolder embedded in the road that requires you to drive over it tilting you towards the edge. On the shelf we used 4wd just to be extra safe but all the rest was 2wd. Other then the sheer drop at the shelf, the trail was fun drive and it was interesting to see the topography change from forest towards desert. Near the end there was confusion as roads marked by the latest Garmin map were obviously closed for a long time, blocked with boulders and overgrown. After a wrong turn we eventually got to Broom Flat. Ive included a view of that map showing the Garmin route in red and the actual travel in gray. Note the wrong turn and backtrack.
We entered Rouse Hill from the south using Thomas Mountain Rd. Rouse Hill is quite a change from the manicured road conditions on Thomas Mountain. Deeply rutted in many places and few places to pick a line to avoid 2ft deep ruts. Still with this its all 2wd. It was interesting how quickly you drop out of the tall trees into the scrub. Its easy to take a wrong turn at spots as roads are not marked well so watch your map. We started down Hog Lake and soon realized that was the wrong road. At the end of this trip we drove through citrus groves so close you could reach out an grab an orange (not suggesting to do this just pointing out how close you are:)
We entered at the 74 or west end of the trail. The trail head, right on the 74 is creepy. Full of trash piles and hidden by brush from the main road and unpleasant odors. I would pick another spot to air down before you get to the trail head. The first part of the trail is winding, steep and narrow with extreme drop offs on one side. I did not encounter another vehicle on this Friday and very happy as there are few spot to move over. The trail is marked for licensed vehicles only or no Green Sticker vehicles. Not a trail to be sliding around corners with the intense dropoff on 1 side. Hard packed with a thin layer of sand. About a 3000ft climb in 5 miles. I saw up to 10-12 degree incline at the steepest but 2wd all the way was no problem. Near the Half Way springs it suddenly becomes dense and lush with trees. There was no water running in the spring that we could see. Around way point 4 the road flattens to wide flat well kept 2 way road.
Very easy trail. We entered at the southern most end. Mostly 2 cars wide, flat and well maintained. We saw a couple small SUV but mostly pickups. For a weekday a fair amount of traffic suggesting its popularity. We passed a large group of sheriffs and volunteer vehicles practicing search and rescue. Utility trucks going the opposite direction. About 1/2 to 1/3 of the yellow post campsites were occupied with overnight campers. We stopped at the first yellow post camp site which has a pit toilet. My wife was pleased that it was well stocked with TP. Good job forest service! We were hoping to escape the 112F heat in Hemet and I suppose 95F helps at the highest elevation we got to but still very warm.
We entered from the south end of the trail. Mostly flat and well maintained road through the flattest parts of the forest. At this altitude your in the trees. Tractor tread tracks were still visible along the sides suggesting its recent maintenance. Quite and nice to get away. Not obvious from this direction when leaving the trail but when looking back you can see signs posted suggesting End of road and private road but it is not. You in housing at this point and a very short distance to Hwy 243.
This is a forest service rated Blue road and it indeed lives up to that. Perhaps not necessary but we kept it in 4wd as we just felt more comfortable that way. A stark contrast to the well groomed trail up to it from Bee Canyon. At first expansive views of neatly organized citrus orchards off to the west and eventually elevation and topography allows more water this trails is much more a forest road often surround by green tall pines. Passing over the creek even at this time of year the pond was full cold water and a small waterfall on the other side of the road. A great place to stop and have lunch but its popular and more then likely you wont have it to yourself. There were several vehicles on this trail going both directions, especially dirt bikes and ATVs sliding around corners, even on this Monday, so watch for dust as a warning and careful around blind corners. The yellow post camp site looked inviting with water running in the creek next to it and as least when we were there, no mosquitos.
I saw mixed reports from the forest service site that this trail was closed for repairs. But indeed it was open. It looked recently groomed perhaps from the repairs. A flat, dry, dusty road surrounded by dried up foliage that leads to more interesting trails. Any passenger vehicle can drive it. Along the way there are perhaps 15 shooting spots just off the road full of debris and obliterated targets needing a serious cleanup.
The trail appeared to have groomed as part of the recent repairs on Bee Canyon. It l had a forest service rating of Green and it is. It terminates at Indian Creek Rd and looking to the right Indian Creek appears a nicely groomed Green rated road. To the left a different story as it was obvious it hadn't been touched in a long time (see picture). This was an up and back for us as we planned to continued on to 5S09 or San Jacinto Ridge. The bottom of the trail crosses a dried up creek. Its 1 to 1.5 cars wide with infrequent turnouts and we did find ourselves backing up a hill at one point let a small pickup by..
We came into 2N34 on the west end coming from Pilot Rock which is a nice combination for a morning drive and still have the afternoon for lunch and shopping in Lake Arrowhead. 2N34 like 2N33 has "Blue" rated OHV signage or "More Difficult" and I would say it achieves the rating but its not hard or dangerous nor are you at risk at any time of damaging your vehicle. It doesn't have the expansive views of 2N33 but in a capable vehicle its a very enjoyable forest drive. There are some steeper climbs that I was tempted to go into 4wd but as a test I kept the entire trail in 2wd and had no problems. The Alternate "X" route which I understand is more difficult is well marked and easy to avoid which I did. We finished the ride before noon and I did not encounter another vehicle in either direction but there is a very large flat staging area at the trail head that had some folks getting trailered OHVs ready.
We entered from the west or the Silverwood Lake end of the trail and you quickly come to overlooks with beautiful majestic views of the lake. The trail is OHV rated "Blue" on the signage, which is "More Difficult" but its an easy trail with 1 section that we paused at to pick a line. 2 wheel drive pickup would be fine IMO. Our vehicle was a lifted Jeep 4 door and in 2wd the entire trail and it was a breeze. The lower elevation part of the trail is loose and embedded rock so if you can air down it will make for a more comfortable ride. We came across a rattlesnake sunning in the road at the beginning of the trail. As the original mapper stated there are many opportunities to go off the main trail. Even many more then are identified in the original mapping. Some of these are not marked with signage, and some marked as "Open" and some have ratings of black diamond or "More Difficult". We found that it was easy to see the main trail and keep from inadvertently going on one of these alternate routes.
A much more rugged trail then Maple Springs Rd which took us to this trail head. Very rocky in places. Narrow sections but always a wide spot to allow other vehicles to pass. We encountered 3 other pickup trucks on this drive to Santiago Peak and a Suburban with government plates probably servicing one on communications systems at the peak. A couple of tight switchbacks but mostly smooth flowing turns. The most concerning for me were the steep sides approaching 60 degree or more slopes on 1 side of the road and without any fencing. The road was always wide enough to keep a wide margin from the edge. Along the way and especially at the top there are views out to the ocean and at times views of the Inland Empire (east). The road heading further south was indeed gated closed at the antenna farm and this was stated on the Cleveland National Forest Road and Road Closure Notices page at https://www.fs.usda.gov/detailfull/cleveland/alerts-notices/?cid=stelprdb5340229.
We took Maple Springs Rd in both directions as a path to and from the North Main Divide. Id put this trail at a difficulty level 1. The first few miles are paved with some holes and the dirt section was obviously recently scraped so that made it much more accessible but it was still very dusty and with some small rocks strewn about. I saw a compact 2wd car going on the dirt section going up the hill with a trailer towing a motorcycle and also several pickups several pickups. There are not many sections that would not allow 2 vehicles to pass each other. Also watch for hikers and bicyclists. We encountered 4 hikers and a mountain biker going up the trail When I saw them ahead I stopped to allow the dust cloud to move on avoiding them. There are mountain lion warnings posted at the trailhead and on a prior trip we did spook a lion who ran across the road ahead of us.
We started at the opposite end of this route then was mapped by Adam Riivald. We entered at Lake Silverado and come out at the 15. The trail was easily driven in no places requiring 4wd.. Since I just had many streaks buffed out from encounters with shrubs, I was particularly concerned about not adding those stripes back in. Unfortunately there are some very narrow, long and overgrown and unavoidable stretches that will rub on both sides of the vehicle. We took it very slow through this these sections and the growth was fairly new with no hard branches so I think I came out ok. Great views back to the lake and south to the Inland Empire. We only encountered one other vehicle coming the opposite way in a section that was 2 lanes wide A convenient place to air up is a small shopping center near the entrance to the 15.
A surprisingly rough rocky trail but still not requiring 4wd. Near the lake trail head there is a large open staging area that is a clue of what you may encounter. We did an up and back on this trail (on our way to 2N49A) and on the way out there were several trailers and ATVs. Surprising for a Monday we encountered several trail bikes and ATVs around blind corners so be aware. The trail follows a creek and is shaded by big beautiful oak trees. Even with all the traffic we saw a horned buck and his 3 doe but gone before we could get our cameras out.
Ive done this trail a few times now on the way to Slide Lake. The trail has changed since my last visit 8 months ago (not documented here). A good or bad change depends on if you want a 4 wheel challenge. There are a couple of sections of the trail that are washed away and appeared so bad I got out to walk it and make sure it was doable. This washed out section is 4 wheel drive territory (jeep lifted 2.5" with 34" tires) and the line I picked did at one point put me on 3 wheels. The rest of the trail was fine, rutted and rock strewn but easy enough. Some spectacular flowering along the way.
A narrow easy trail down to the river, up and back with not outlet at the bottom. I mean narrow. Ive never met another vehicle in the opposite direction and happy about that as there are few places to maneuver for space. Much of the trail is overgrown, providing beauty but also paint scratches. The trail ends at the bottom at Slide Lake a section of the river that at times floods the area. The river is easily reachable and very pleasant to stop at and have lunch. There nice spots for camping if you follow the tracks a bit north which have become a small creek. During deer season I have seen well established camps in this area. At this time no fires are allowed.
There are several interesting and historical sites along this trail. If you can find a copy of Guide to 50 Interesting and Mysterious Sites in the Mojave by Bill Mann there are several artifacts along this route that he details. From an old stage coach watering stop to the Inscription canyon. Inscription canyon unto itself is worth a trip. This fenced off canyon is full of "rock art"engravings were put here by Native Americans over the past 12,000 years. Inscription Canyon has the highest concentration of petroglyphs in the area with strange shapes and designs but many are recognizable as big horn sheep. The road itself is an easy dry and dusty slow drive. Being so dry it is interesting there is still water in the well by the stage coach stop. As you drive keep an eye out along along the walls and large rocks as there are many petroglyphs to discover. If you stay on the trail a 2WD with a little clearance would do just fine.