California has the highest amount of dirt bike riding tracks in the US, with many being near LA, San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose.
Creating a list of all these places was pain-staking work. Much like you, we would rather be out there exploring the tracks ourselves instead of being behind the screen.
Best Dirt Bike Riding Trails California
This guide came about as we scratched our heads looking for new places to ride. We didn’t want MX tracks or clubs (though racing is awesome) and simply wanted to ride anywhere legally provided we had our California OHV Permit. These days, the State also allows non-residents to purchase these online too.
For the ADV and dual-sport crowd, this guide is equally applicable to you. We love adventure riding as much as enduro and weekend exploring.
Before you head out, just remember that these areas can close at any time due to fire dangers and flooding. Always check with the local rangers before you haul.
These are California’s most popular dirt bike trails:
1. Mt. Pinos East OHV Trails
Mt. Pinos East in the Los Padres National Forest is epic if you love the open country and rugged terrain. Yes, this spot is better suited for experienced riders who can manage the numerous hill climbs and tight switchbacks and tube-busting rocks, but beginners should have a go too. There are multiple campgrounds but our pick goes to Chuchupate Campground which doesn’t require the holding of an Adventure Pass. (If you need one of these, get one online or see the Mt. Pinos Ranger Station).
2. Fort Sage OHV Area
Most people in California have heard of Fort Sage before but probably haven’t visited this mecca of dirt bike regions. This area is one of the best in the state, with some visitors jumping the border from Reno, Nevada. Yes – it’s that good. The trails are hard-packed sand (yes, it’s possible) and beginners can get through much of this area pretty easily. There are about 30,000 acres here so we recommend staying overnight and there are plenty of camping spots around Fort Sage OHV Area.
3. Penny Pines
Penny Pines is very popular and most riders aim for Deer Valley staging area to unload the dirt bikes before venturing around the area. It’s best for those who are more experienced yet beginners are welcome since there are dozens of trails to explore. This is within Elk Mountain and Mendocino National Forest. Most families camp overnight at Middlecreek Staging Area where there is a PeeWee track for the kids as well as a dry river bed.
4. Hungry Valley SVRA
Hungry Valley is well known as the place to be in the Californian Desert with your dirt bike. Love to go fast? Then you’ll be reaching your top gears here quite regularly. We don’t recommend this area in summer as it can get seriously hot, so aim for the shoulder seasons. Smith Forks Campground is a great place to camp especially as there is a mini-motocross located right on-site as well as some 4WD practice areas if you bring the truck too.
5. Big Meadows (Sequoia National Forest)
Big Meadows is a great place to finally twist that throttle and let yourself loose. Here is where you’ll find Kings Canyon National Parks and Buck Rock Campground for an overnight stay. The trails are a mix of beginner-friendly and some intermediate loops but nothing too technical or challenging. If you want some epic views, then head up the BUck Rock Jeep Trail.
6. Spangler Hills OHV Area
SPangler Hills offers free dirt bike riding trails covering 57,000+ acres. It’s literally a paradise for those that want to cruise at triple digits! You can imagine that this is a great training ground for Baja and Dakar competitors without the crowds of other riding areas. It’s mostly flat terrain and you can ride just about anywhere you want as well as camp anywhere you want. Some nearby spots include Jawbone Canyon and Dove Springs which are worth checking out.
7. Frank Raines OHV Park
Frank Raines is epic and is open to all OHV vehicles including those from out of state. This spot regularly closes though due to fire ban and high temperatures, but when it’s open…then it’s the spot to be. Indeed, this is lucky #7 on this list and we think that’s quite appropriate for what you’ll have to explore here. Hard-packed terrain that’s relatively easy to get through, paired with campgrounds which have shower facilities. What more could you ask for?
8. Foresthill OHV
If you want some genuine forests to ride through, then Foresthill is named quite appropriately. There are more than 100 miles of off-road riding trails to explore and several entry points. The terrain is hard-packed though it can get quite muddy or dusty depending on where you are in the season. Numerous camp sites are available which are free while the better ones are by the lake which you’ll need to pay for.
9. Carnegie SVRA Trail
Carnegie SVRA is a pretty big offroad park and quite popular with regular visitors from Stockton. The area is shared with 4×4’s but dirt bikes will find their fair share of single track in which to explore. That said, it gets busy on weekends and you’ll need a spark arrestors which is Forest Service Approved, so be mindful especially if you’re on a 2-banger.
10. Jawbone Canyon
Jawbone Canyon is really best for the big bore bikes who not just have the power but skill and reaction to make it through the tough stuff. Plenty of sand mixed in with some challenging hill climbs make this a great spot for the experienced dirt bike riders from Los Angeles. This area is within the Mojave Desert and there are heaps of free-range camping spots but no real facilities.
11. Indian Springs
Indian Springs is definitely a 4×4 trail but dirt bikes are permitted. You won’t find much single track but it’s worth exploring on the double track and riding two-abreast. Be wary around corners especially on weekends as seeing oncoming vehicles is quite common. Aim for the Indian Springs Campground for overnight stays, though there isn’t any direct trail access here.
12. Corral Canyon OHV Area (Cleveland National Forest)
Corrall Canyon has more than 50+ miles of dirt bike trails to explore on 2-wheels. The area is particularly shaded and partially open country with great views of Lake Morena. If you’re camping overnight here then aim for Bobcat Meadows or Corral Canyon where you’ll find basic sites and fires are permitted.
13. Millwood OHV Area
In the Sequoia National FOrest is the Millwood OHV Area. You’ll find around 25 miles worth of trails which are dirt bike friendly. This is in the Hume Lake Ranger District and you can camp at Abbott Creek Campground though space is limited for those with big trailers. The terrain is a bit rocky and not always the most accommodating for the beginner, but still worth the trip. If you want to see the world’s tallest trees, then this area adjoins the Kings Canyon National Park.
14. French Meadow
French Meadow is very popular with many people hauling in for hours from LA and San Diego to ride here. Even Weldon and Lake Isabella residents praise the fact that they have French Meadow quite close. Naturally, this spot gets busy on weekends but it’s obvious to see why with 500+ miles at your disposal and much of it is single track. The area is well marked but we recommend packing a GPS just in case. You can camp for free here and our recommendation is Landers Camp, though if that’s full then head for Piaute Springs OHV.
15. Bee Canyon Truck Trail (San Bernardino National Forest)
Bee Canyon Truck Trail is a popular spot yet doesn’t really offer that much space. You’ll find some single track and forest service roads running about 20 miles, so this makes this area good for a day-trip. If you want to experience snow in California on your dirt bike, then this is one of those rare places in which to do it. Yes, this spot is open-year round.
16. Elkins Flat OHV Routes
We recommend Elkins Flat OHV Routes which you’ll find within the Eldorado National Forest. Much of these trails have been set aside for dirt bikes only, and these trails are mostly marked and graded for difficulty. Essentially – there is something for everyone here! Not only are the trails good, but camping is even better. There are so many trails in this network that we recommend staying from late Friday to late Sunday to take it all in.
17. Georgetown (Eldorado National Forest)
Eldorado National Forest has a spot called Georgetown with more than 140 miles to explore on 2-wheels. THese tight and twisty tracks are just made perfectly for dirt bikes to explore. You’ll spend much of your day in 2nd or 3rd gear and there are some challenging spots to overcome, but as the trails are marked and rated, beginners can easily find an alternative. We recommend the Mace Mill Staging Area.
18. Pilot Creek OHV Trails
When you’re in the peak of summer and California’s desserts are stupidly hot, then it’s time to get into the shade. Head for Six Rivers National Forest where you’ll find the Pilot Creek OHV Trails which welcomes dirt bikes. These are very wooded trails which are well marked and there are several campsites worth visiting.
19. High Dome Trail
The High Dome Trail in the Six Rivers National Forest is considered to be a reasonable for a visit on the dirt bike, yet the type of place where you’d only ever visit once. There are several loops in which to explore on 2 wheels here and it’s mostly single track. While you can camp at Elk Camp Ridge overnight (which as more loops), you’ll probably see much of this area within a few hours and then be loading up and heading off.
20. Jackson Meadows
Within Tahoe National Forest is Jackson Meadows and we recommend this spot for the ADV dual-sport rider given the high volume of dirt roads as opposed to single track. There are heaps of campsites dotted around the numerous lakes. The terrain is mostly flat and there isn’t much challenge, making this ideal for throwing your tent and supplies in the panniers and coming in for an adventure.
21. Crandall Peak and Deer Creek OHV Areas
Crandall Peak and Deer Creak are within the Stanislaus National Forest and you’ll find more than 40 miles set aside exclusively for dirt bikes, with much of this being single-track. We’re talking 2nd and 3rd gear here with quite a number of switch backs and narrow passes. If that becomes too much, there are also more than 140 miles of forest service roads that you can’t ignore! Head for Crandall OHV Campground for your staging area and stay overnight to really see everything here.
22. Dumont Dunes
With more than 8,000 acres to see, you’ll love Dumont and its epic sand dunes. That is, provided you have a serious commitment and the power to back you up. These dunes are steeeep! We’d also recommend you have a spotter at the top if you’re going with a bunch of mates. After all, you never know if there’s a buggy on the other side. You can certainly camp here overnight and last time we checked it’s free camping.
23. Glamis Sand Dunes
If Dumont isn’t doing it for you, then Glamis certainly will. We’re talking epic sand dunes with heaps of space to stretch out. You’ll probably need a paddle tire to get through this with a big bore bike too. Forget the 250cc weapon for the single track as it probably won’t make it through. Heaps of places to ride and camp, though the places get very popular on weekends with many riders coming in from all over California to ride here.
24. Interface Recreation Trails
Within the Stanislaus National Forest is Interface Recreation Trails. No 4×4’s permitted here which means that you don’t need to worry about 3 tonnes of metal waiting for you around the next bend. The terrain has some challenging sections and specific trails for the more experienced folk. No camping opportunities here but do check out White Pines Lack Recreation Area for an after-ride swim in the fresh water.
25. Dove Springs
Dove Springs isn’t too far from Jawbone Canyon that we noted at #10 on this list. The terrain here is open country with limited shade and very minor elevations. Not much in the way of scenery but you can finally see the top-end of your gears here if you’re done with the tight forest single track. Pack yourself a spare rear tire and 2 tubes. You can thank us later.
26. Lake Arrowhead
Lake Arrowhead has some good riding trails and it’s best for those living in the area of Lake Arrowhead, CA. This is due to the proximity to residential areas. You’ll find good trails for the beginner who’s looking to improve their skills given how little there is here in the way of challenging terrain.
27. Knoxville Recreation Area
Knoxville is quite rugged so don’t head here if this is your first time riding offroad. The hard-packed terrain is ideal for those looking to level up their skills where you’ll rarely be heading up into 4th gear. We recommend camping overnight and you can choose either the lower or upper camps, but be warned – the entrance roads can be quite rough, as can the main dirt bike tracks themselves.
28. Pozo La Panza OHV Area
Pozo La Panza is a great mountain loop with some steep rider as well as heavily wooded forests and epic views. Aim for either Navajo Flat or Turkey Flat staging area where both have great campsites though they are limited in size. Bring some spare coins as they both charge fees to both parks and stay overnight. No real facilities here apart from long drop toilets.
29. Mammoth Lakes and Mammoth Bar Bar OHV
Mammoty has riding trails and MX tracks galore. With more than 30 miles of trails to explore, you’re going to need a few hours to get through everything. You’ll need to be more experienced to ride here given how steep some of the sections are. More than 1,000 acres here and you can camp overnight too. Note: Some spots in Mammoth are closed on Saturdays.
30. Porterville OHV Area
We just had to add a motocross track to this list. Admit it: You were waiting for this! Given anyone can head on to Porterville and ride these different motocross tracks, it’s the type of place that’s perfect for developing your dirt bike skills. Sure – you might not want to jump but knowing how to get through whoop sections and blast through corners will certainly help you keep up in scheduled group rides.
31. Ocotillo Wells SRRA
California State Parks operates Ocotillo Wells SVRA and this has a large open area with more than 80,000 acres in which to explore. You’re probably going to want to stay at least one night to really see everything…or even create your own tracks out here! It’s free to ride your dirt bike here and there are unlimited camp sites.
32. Lark Canyon OHV Area
Lark Canyon OHV Area has numerous trails and 15 very good camp sites with direct trail access for dirt bikes. This is a popular spot for riders all over California though the area doesn’t really have much in the way of facilities apart from showers and some water.
33. Rasor OHV Area
If you’re looking for dunes and Dumont or Glamis don’t tickle your fancy, then you need to get on to Rasor OHV Area. You’ll need to go down the Mojave Road which provides access to this area into the Mojave National Reserve. This is quite a remote spot and you’ll need to haul everything in and there are no amenities like toilets, but certainly plenty of riding and camping spots. Minimal crowds even on weekends!
34. South Cow Mountain
More experienced dirt bike riders from San Francisco generally venture up to South Cow Mountain and the trail loops can be quite gnarly. It’s a mix of sharp rocky sections and numerous creek streams. There are more than 20,000 acres in which to explore yet the place does attract quite a lot of riders from nearby Ukiah. TH
35. Chappie-Shasta OHV Area
Chappie-Shasta is made up of mainly loose rocks where you’ll be breaking some traction along the route, but the scenery more than makes up for it. There are some climbs and descents for experienced riders to conquer but some beginner loops too. You’ll rarely see 4×4’s here as the tracks generally aren’t wide enough. Head for the Chappie-Shasta Staging Area where there is heaps of space to unload, while there is a good campground 2 minutes down the road too.
36. Rice Canyon OHV Area
Rice Canyon OHV Area has more than 100 acres to play. Sure – that might not be much but kids are welcome here and there is a great spot to camp overnight. Both riding and camping is free here provided you have the OHV Permit for every member of your family who is riding. Given how small it is, this spot isn’t so popular with other riders which is great…it keeps those annoying crowds away!
37. Wildomar OHV Area
Wildomar out towards Lake Elsinore has a stunning network of trails to explore and makes up the past place on our list. This is within Cleveland National Forest and the Trabuco Ranger District. Like some other dirt bike tracks in California, this one can be closed during the peak of summer months due to excessive heat. There is a campground with direct trail access and you will also need to pay a day-use fee or use an Adventure Pass.
Just remember that some of these spots will be closed in the heat of summer due to fire bans and excessive heat. Even if these spots are open, they can be seriously hot and so you’ll need to bring plenty of water.
Get some buddies together and start riding. If you’re looking for some new friends who also ride dirt bikes, then it’s best to get inside of one of the several Facebook groups of fellow riders in San Jose, San Diego, Los Angeles or San Francisco. Some of these riders organize group rides and enduro events too, as well as dual-sport camping trips.
Either way – get out there! We only live once and life is best explored behind the handlebars.