My Trail Reviews (39)
(within last 6 months)
Four weeks after our first visit to Stockton Flats we came to see it without snow. Quite a different trail from its soft as a marshmallow ride with snow to the teeth jarring rattle can without snow. Airing down is highly recommended. We included a short vignette of the dry trail.
Slade Canyon is more than just a short connector road up to Lower Lytle Creek Divide. It also offers some of the best views in Lytle Creek. Even after a couple of storms, the road was in great condition. The Forest Service Rangers told me they use Slade Canyon frequently as a shortcut over the ridge to get to the paved Lone Pine Canyon Road on the other side. The entrance off of Stockton Flats is not marked and hard to see as it starts in the middle of the creek bed. But following any of the light tire tracks north will quickly get you to a graded road. The creek area needs some clearance as evidence of past attempts by street vehicles, such as mufflers and other broken off parts are strewn about
We visited 2N58 2 weeks after our 1st trip this time taking along a neighbor in their 4x4 Nissan Xterra. The only difference in the trail was all the snow was gone from the prior visit. The hard spot at Waypoint 5 was still hard. Here is a video of the Xterra trying Waypoint 5 for the first time.
The trail had not changed since we drove it 7 weeks ago. I thought the rains might have left some bigger ruts but it did not seem any different. I was surprised that the creek had less water running through it also.
The trail did seem to have some deeper runoff created ruts than our trip 8 weeks ago and not a hint of snow. We still enjoyed stopping for the great views.
The trail was open but a recent storm left a lot of snow. I could not see the actual trail over the creek bed. From driving it in the past, I know over the creek bed there are large rocks marking the trail and did not want to take the risk of getting off the trail and hitting snow that wouldn't hold the jeep above the rocks and decided to try later when the trail was more clearly visible.
A storm a few days prior left about 2 ft of snow in places. From the Paiute trailhead it appears, the trail was broke only for a short distance. Its a rugged trail as described by Dennis in his review and from my own summer experience driving it, I did not want to take the risk of going off-trail and encountering an unseen obstacle.
Recent snow added to the beauty of this area and made for a very pleasant drive. The road is graded from hauled in gravel to support hikers using cars to access the hiking trailhead at the end. We were surprised when we came to the hard spot at Waypoint 5. A passenger car would have great difficulty passing over this area. Along the road, we could hear the creek below, and when there was an obvious trail, enjoyed short hikes down to the water. In the fresh snow, we could see wildlife tracks and other sign such as what we think was black bear scat.
We wanted to drive this trail before a predicted storm. We picked a perfect time. I prior storm had left a foot or two of snow a week prior and by the time we got there, the snow was packed down by the traffic. The trailhead was busy with a lot of folks visiting the snow on this sunny day, but after 1/4 mile the crowds thinned and we were left mostly on our own or with a couple of other 4x4s. Once driving over the actual Lytle Creek at Waypoint 4, a gentle climb took us higher, and the farther we went the more beautiful it was with the snow carpeting everything. We came across a snow camper at Waypoint 9 who was just trying to leave. He had a shovel breaking loose his tires that had frozen in overnight. He declined a tug and on our way back he was gone. Early in the trail, the large cobble road was very rough where the snow had melted and we decided to air down. But soon there was enough snow to allow us to glide smoothly along.
We looked for the trailhead on the south end and could not find it so we decided to enter from the north and discovered the trailhead was hidden by a home development under construction. It will be interesting to see how they maintain access to the trailhead. We took Meyers Canyon up the ridge to get to the Edison Road trailhead. The road follows power lines and being a windy day the cables would vibrate and sing loud enough to hear from the road. The road was a bit rough with the water worn ditches but that just added some driving fun to the trip.
From the trailhead and looking back south, Old CC continues across Lytle Creek. The section of the road is now closed. The Forest Service gate is barely visible from the road through the overgrown bushes and is only available to hikers. With Old CC Spur, we expected an easy mild road similar to what we have experienced elsewhere in the Lytle Creek area but were surprised at how rutted Old CC Spur was. The difficult section at Waypoint 4 put one Jeep up on 3 wheels. That said we enjoyed the change of the pace and the bit of "technical" challenge the short road provided.
At the bottom, where it is still flat, there are several unmarked trails intersecting the road. We explored some of the trails and they lead to power line towers or other support facilities but none-the-less they were fun to explore if you can live with a little stripping from the overgroth.
It's always fun to splash through a creek. Last year at that this spot a vehicle and driver had to be rescued after heavy rains swelled the creek. I've done this road twice now and both times I unknowingly turned onto the power station road as the actual Meyers Canyon Road is well hidden until you drive past. The gun range is huge when viewed from above and it would be interesting to discover how the gun club carved such a big slice of land out of the National Forest. At the top, we continued our journey along the Lower Lytle Creek Divide and had a great day of getting away.
We started from 3n31y. An easy road. Great views to the North-East. You can see and hear Interstate 15 and the long trains as they rumble through. We will sure to visit again in the spring when the flowers are in bloom.
We took Sheep Canyon to access the trailhead for Upper Lytle Creek Divide. As Sheep Canyon was only 2 miles, we did an up and back to discover the entire trail. It didn't disappoint. The scenery was great, enhanced by the seasonal color changes in the trees. It was a big surprise to realize Interstate 15 was just over the ridge only 2 miles away as the crow flies.
This was a cloudy day that slowly cleared as the day went on and the result was a beautiful azure sky filled with white wispy clouds. The views were spectacular when at the top of the ridge. We encountered several vehicles going in both directions and while this is a one-lane road, there was always enough room to squeeze over and let them by. This is an easy road with no obstacles at all, however proper all-terrain tires should be used. Near Gobbler's Knob Spur we encountered an Audi Sedan whose driver was installing a spare to replace a tire that had a 4" slash in the sidewall. After talking with the driver, he believes the slash happened on the cracked granite section around Waypoint 12.
Who could resist trying a trail named Gobblers Knob! Well, it turns out it was just not us. At the trailhead, we met a fellow in an Audi sedan with a slashed tire. A 4-inch slash of the sidewall happened when passed over the granite rubble section of Upper Lytle Creek Divide on his way up to the Gobbler. He just finished putting on one of the small temporary spares and we followed him out just to make sure he got to the pavement OK. We could see him slipping down the road so that and the slashed tire speaks to being properly equipped with all-terrain tires when traveling off-road. We plan to visit again and this time hike the 1/4 mile out to the actual Gobbler's Knob. The road was easy but can be intimidating with the shelf roads steep drop offs. The views were wonderful but all around we could see the burn results from the 2016 Blue Cut fire .
The trail was open today.
The road is easy to drive and well maintained with only a few spots that water and erodes small ditches across it. There are several short spurs along the way to explore while driving or hiking and almost all connect to a powerline tower. Almost everywhere along the ridge, we could enjoy views both east, west, and north. I thought the view north was particularly interesting because it was obvious where the Mojave desert transition is. It's a one lane road and we encountered other vehicles, both dirt bikes and trucks coming in opposite direction, and found enough room to pull over and let them pass since. At the end of the trail, we took the left at Applewhite Road and which runs right into the Applewhite Campground
but unfortunately it was closed. There are many places to pull over and have lunch while and enjoying the views.
I was surprised to come up to a locked Forest Service gate cutting short the spur from whats shown on maps
The roads connecting the powerline towers to Penstock Ridge Spur are much rougher than the spur itself and can offer some fun offroad driving challenges. Generally a gentle road great for a first time offroader.
Penstock Ridge is a short 3-mile trail that is very scenic but the shelf road sections can be intimidating as the drops are near vertical and there is no guard fence. We almost drove by the abandoned car at Waypoint 2 as it's tucked back off the road and partially hidden by the bushes. It was partially dismantled and appears to have been recently left. We reported the car and its location to the Forest Service who will hopefully tow it away. The art wall at Waypoint 6 was a nice surprise and we took time to stop and inspect their colorful work up close.
Its as Dennis described in his original review. After enjoying the Cahuilla Mountains from a distance we gave Red Mountain a try for a closer look and had a wonderful time on a beautiful warm fall day.
We came up from the South on Cottonwood to join Hog Lake. At that intersection, the trail to the right was lightly used 2 track and we knew it lead to Hog Lake and at some point would be gated as it enters the Ramona Indian Reservation so we correctly went left to stay on the trail up to Rouse Road. I had been on this road a 3 years prior and Id have to say it has degraded since then as deep ruts and washouts abound but still no problem for a lightly modified Jeep and in 2-wheel drive. Starting about 5000ft we started to come across increasingly larger patches of snow in the shaded parts of the trail from the storm that came through 10 days prior. The trail was slightly damp still and we had good traction the entire way. Some great views back towards the town of Anza on the border of the National Forest.
Coming up the south side of the mountain from Cottonwood and Hog Lake trails we connected to Thomas Mountain to descend the other side of the mountain range. The trail was damp from the storm 10 days ago with puddles and patches of snow. In sections, it was a bit slippery. Towards the bottom you get nice view of Lake Hemet.
We used Tripp Flats Road as an exit after traveling Bautista Road and were surprised a at how pretty the short drive was. I would imagine the meadow the road drives through is full of flowers in the spring and we will make a point of returning to see.
From Bautista Road, Cottonwood Trail looks like just another water diversion path cut into the side of the road, but a small post, marked with 6s16 gives it away. I've driven this road 3 years ago and it is now much more heavily rutted than I remember but no problem for a lightly modified Jeep. Also, a lot of overgrowth at lower elevations that cannot is avoided that will leave some pin stripping. We planned this trip to avoid trails with snow and were surprised to come across increasingly larger patches of snow in the shady parts of the trail starting at about 5000 ft. The road was damp and with several large puddles along the way but no traction issues and 2 wheel-drive the entire way.
Bautista Road is a wide 2-lane flat easy dirt road that most passenger cars could use. Before owning a Jeep, I'd ridden it several times on my 500 lb adventure style motorcycle. Even without the off-road driving challenges, Bautista is a great getaway for quiet solitude and wonderful lush green scenery along its entire 7-mile path. Even the 7-mile paved ride up to the dirt section is a pleasant curving drive through working citrus orchards and follows the tree-shrouded Bautista creek to the trailhead. The results of the recent Bautista Fire in 2019 can be seen along long stretches of the road. Bautista road is also a great way to get to the trailhead for the Cottonwood and Red Mountain Truck trails. Cottonwood Truck Trail intersects Bautista while Red Mountain OHV Trail is just 1.5 miles from the end up Tripp Flats Road. On this trip, I took Cottonwood Truck Trail to Hog Lake Truck Trail up the west side of the mountain and then Thomas Mountain Road down the east side to Hwy 74. What technical driving challenges Bautista lacked were certainly provided by these trails over the mountains.
A very pleasant ride back to paved roads of Lake Arrowhead from the OHV area around Stove Flats. The very beginning of the trail at Waypoint 1 is a great place to stop and enjoy the shade and lunch. The end of the dirt road appears quickly and homes appear through the bushes.
We arrived on Rouse Ranch Road in time to see the color starting to change in the forest. The elevation along the road is below where the pine trees dominate and this area beautiful, full of trees and shrubs that change colors with the coming winter. It's interesting that the road starts so close to the Arrowhead community and within a few hundred feet after crossing into the National Forest it's as if you've disappeared into the wilderness. As this is not an OHV road, there was no Forest Service sign to indicate a road difficulty level but I suspect it would have been a Green rating approach Blue. I was surprised at how rough the road was at times needing to select a driving line to avoid the worse of it. At the end of Rouse Ranch Road, we decided to continue on the connecting OHV roads and eventually made our way back to Lake Arrowhead via Ash Meadows Road. We didn't see a single person or vehicle during our weekday trip which made it that much more enjoyable.
I have always wanted to visit the Lava Tube, what a pleasant surprise it was to continue on this road. There is a lot to take in its short 3 miles. It was only after looking at Google Earth did I realize that for most of this trip I was driving over a lava flow. Now I understand why the steep hills getting on and off the lava flow. The road was just rough enough to be fun yet with a little technical driving challenge. Being surrounded by the wilderness area with the volcanoes as a backdrop was beautiful. I was impressed at how the plantlife especially the Joshua Trees were able grow even on the lava flow. At the time of my visit, campfire restrictions had been eased and I was able to camp the night at one of the many primitive sites with a fire and enjoy the clear night sky, bright stars and quiet of the remote desert.
Indian Spring Road was just a chance encounter for us when we were on our way out of the Mojave Preserve. We had time and fuel and could not pass up a chance to check out this dirt road that disapeared into the hills. Once on our way and by chance we happened to see what I thought may have been a walled spring but after a short hike we discovered it was a mine and what I though may have been a spring was actually the remnants of a stone building made from the rocks carved out of the mine and littered with old tin cans. A great discovery and another reason why we love exploring the Mojave.
Aiken Mine road provided a wonderful and facinating tour. Its always impressive to be up close and personal with a volcano and doubly so when able to tour Aiken Cinder Mine, a ghost town in arrested decay. When I first arrived, I was looking for mine workers but soon convinced myself the mine was was indeed abandoned. Equipment is left everywhere, as if the crew went home for the night and never came back. I could freely drive and walk around the mine for hand-on inspection of the facility. As I continued the drive, enjoying the passing desert and Joshua Tree forest, things suddenly changed. Beautiful and healthy Joshua Trees suddenly became black and sagging effigies. It took me a few seconds to realize I just entered a recent forest fire. Later after some research, I understood that only 4 months before, a major fire had decimated this area of the the Cima Dome Joshua Tree forest. The road to exit the end of Aiken Mine Road almost looked like someones driveway but it was Valley View Ranch Road, another dirt road that took me to Cima Road and on my way home.
We entered at the North trailhead coming from Geology Tour Rd. I drove this road a couple years ago and not much has changed although I found it less intimidating now that I have a couple years of off-road driving experience. Originally I drove it in a stock Wrangler but this time with a raised Jeep and bigger tires. A beautiful narrow canyon. It was only 85F on this day and a busy park and dirt-road even during this mid-week.
Geology Tour Road is not an off-roading challenge as large portions of it are well maintained to allow access for 2-wheel drive sedans. What the trail did provide was some inspiring scenery from the rock formations to the panoramic view at the apex of the trail. During my trip the road was frequently visited so be aware of the traffic. We had planned to camp at Jumbo Rock Campground expecting to easily find a spot in this large 124 site campground but on this mid-week it was posted "Full" at the entry.
This trail is quite the contrast from the soft comfortable sand in Joshua Tree National Park to the rough rocky roads when you pass into the last 1/3 of the trail into the BLM section. I was very happy I aired down as it made it much more comfortable and better grip in the sand. Along the route are intersecting roads leading to abandoned mines that can be explored both in the park and on the BLM side. The very last bit of the trail goes up a shelf road blocked by a large boulder and then up another 100ft a 10ft tall berm blocking the trail. While the road on some maps shows Black Eagle Mine Road continuing and dead-ending at the Black Eagle Mine or the Kaiser Steel pit mine, it is actually blocked at this point (no signage that I could see) and this barrier is indicated at this location on the National Geograph Trails map and is entering into private land on the border of what I believe is the Black Eagle Mining District property. I suggest anyone driving this trail to stop at the bottom of the shelf road (Waypoint 14) and take the short hike up the road to the barriers to determine if you want to continue and can turnaround once there. We passed not a single vehicle on this trip and we had no cell coverage the entire way. While on this trip I had a slightly modified Jeep, Ive driven this trail in the past with a stock JKU with no issues.
While leaving Joshua Tree National Park on Black Eagle Mine Rd, I saw this 2-track heading north along the park border. Few maps show this road and when they do, it has no name. I happened upon one map, NatGeo Trails, that showed it as Grubstake Canyon Road. It's an easy trail that stays mostly on BLM land until the end where it climbs a hill. A narrow shelf road led us up the side of the hill where we discovered 2 mines (also not shown on maps). Discoveries like this are one of the reasons we enjoy off-roading. We decided to turnaround at the first mine since after hiking to the 2nd mine we saw the flat area was on the small side for a comfortable turnaround. Going down the shelf road got the heart racing where momentum and gravity caused me to drive even more carefully and where I found myself wanting to lean to the right when we got off-camber towards the cliff. I was relieved when we got to the bottom. Up the hill is only a short walk and for those concerned about driving up the hill it's worth the hike to experience the mines and the views and scout the road to determine if you want to drive it and also a great place to camp.
There is lots of deep sand on this trail and definitely a 4 wheel drive is needed. The hill at waypoint 10 is a bit intimidating, not for its steepness alone but the combination of deep opposing undulations and the steepness really get you tilting side to side.
I have been to many places in the park and have seen more wildlife here than anywhere else. Many jackrabbits, cottontails, roadrunners, quail, coyote and near the end of the trail we even saw a buck with large horns.
The trail is a fun drive and connects to Pinkum Canyon Rd to continue north deeper into the park and exiting at Cottonwood Visitor Center or go south onto the BLM land.
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.
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:).
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.