THE 9 BEST OFFROADING TRAILS IN SAN DIEGO
GET READY FOR AN ADVENTURE WITH AN OFFROADING LIFT KIT FROM SAN DIEGO CAR STEREO
Although San Diego is known for its beaches and near-perfect climate, don’t sleep on its offroading scene! Our area is home to some of the most incredible offroading trails and locations when you’re looking for a fun and thrilling adventure - and to get a little muddy.
San Diego Car Stereo, your premier destination for off-road equipment and truck suspension lift kits, gives you everything you need to tackle any obstacle in your truck or SUV. After talking to our customers and off-roading enthusiasts on staff, we’ve determined the nine best off-roading trails in southern California.
Add these locales to your off-roading bucket list, and make an appointment at San Diego Car Stereo to get your vehicle ready for your big adventure.
PALOMAR DIVIDE ROAD
Getting to Palomar Divide Road near Aguanga, California is an incredible journey in and of itself. Head up to High Point Lookout in Cleveland National Forest and along the longest unpaved trails in the county - a whopping 25.1 miles, good for all skill levels.
As you drive, keep your eyes on the road, but look around a little so you don’t miss absolutely sensational views of Lake Henshaw and Dodge Valley at an elevation of 4,819 feet. Be sure to watch for hikers and mountain bikes.
OTAY MOUNTAIN MINNEWAWA TRUCK TRAIL TO MARRON VALLEY ROAD
Great for off-roading beginners and front-wheel-drive trucks, Otay Mountain Truck Trail is nestled in the San Ysidro Mountains near the U.S. and Mexico border. In addition to your 13.8-mile off-roading thrills, you’ll get spectacular views of Lyons Peak to the northeast, the Jamul Mountains to the north, Tecate Peak to the east, and Mexico to the south.
Have fun, but beware of a large border patrol presence, given its location; this isn’t the trail or the time to attempt something wild. Enter and exit through the gate next to Pio Pico RV Campground.
SMUGGLERS CAVE TRAIL
This off-roading trail’s real treat comes with your surroundings: amazing caves to explore and jaw-dropping views from the road. Smugglers Cave Trail is a 3.5 mile out-and-back trail located near Jacumba. It requires moderate skill level and is best used from November to March.
Off-road enthusiasts have described these trails as “somewhat challenging,” and noted that a higher-clearance vehicle, like one with a lift kit, would be necessary to navigate some areas.
PROCTOR VALLEY ROAD
Nearly nine miles long, this epic dirt trail delivers mesmerizing views of the beautiful countryside in Jamul as you drive. See Mount Miguel, and, if you’re on the trail in spring, mass amounts of wildflowers that bloom alongside the trail.
Be forewarned: there are lots of stories about hauntings along the trail, including by the Proctor Valley Monster, known for leaving 18” footprints; the ghost of a hitchhiker; and a demon car that follows you in the dark. Watch out for these frights, but more realistically, hikers, mountain bikers, and leashed dogs.
ANDERSON TRUCK TRAIL
Located in Alpine, Anderson Truck Trail is one of the best places to go off-roading near San Diego. Drivers enjoy a 7.5-mile out-and-back winding path through hills with multiple views of the El Capitan Reservoir, as well as dozens of side paths to conquer in their lifted trucks.
Driving back to the trailhead, you’ll enjoy some very fun downhills, so buckle up!
BEAR VALLEY ROAD
Although it’s temporarily closed due to wildfires as of September 2020, when it reopens, get ready for great views of Bear Valley and Cottonwood Valley near Sierraville, California on this 12.6-mile out-and-back trail.
It’s not too difficult a trail, however, it can become dangerous if it rains. For your safety, we advise that you avoid Bear Valley Road in bad weather and recommend driving between April and September.
HOT SPRINGS MOUNTAIN TRAIL
Head out to Warner Springs for a 9.5-mile out-and-back trail for difficult hikes and off-road driving. Expect a $10 per-person cash-only fee, which you can pay at the station. The first two miles are a steep incline, until the trail flattens. Expect to see lots of wildlife. Other drivers and hikers have warned that bug repellant is not optional if you expect to get out of your vehicle on this trail.
BOULDER CREEK ROAD
Just southwest of Julian, California, in Cleveland National Forest, Boulder Creek Road offers 13 miles of unpaved glory to explore. It’s easy to traverse and a great trail for beginners to the off-roading experience.
You’ll be rewarded with scenic views and glimpses of wildlife on this point-to-point trail. Be aware that the trailway is temporarily closed for all use as of September 2020 due to wildfires, but when it reopens, you’ll love the year-round scenic driving it offers.
MOTHER GRUNDY TRUCK TRAIL
A 4.9-mile point-to-point trail that is more peaceful than an adrenaline rush, the Mother Grundy Truck Trail near Jamul, California, is ideal for beginners wanting to test the waters of off-roading before committing to upgrading their vehicle with the right lift kit or testing out a brand-new kit not too far from civilization.
Off-roaders describe the trail as having mixed terrain, with inclines and washboards. Beautiful views and potential wildlife sightings make this a can’t-miss for newbies or taking the kids out for a drive.
FIND CAR AND TRUCK LIFT KITS IN KEARNY MESA
San Diego Car Stereo can get your truck ready for any offroading trail in the San Diego area. Choose from our variety of lift kits at different price points and get your vehicle prepared for the journeys to come. Our experts can help you choose the right lift kit for your truck or SUV. Just let them know that you plan to use your vehicle for off-roading!
Visit our store on Convoy Street in Kearny Mesa, near San Diego, call us at 858-434-5751, or contact us online for more information about how we can help prepare you for your next southern California off-roading adventure.