14 Best Bay Area Off Road Trails ❤️️ 2022

Bay Area Off-Road Trails: Do you want to go off-roading in San Francisco? Although the city doesn’t have many options for off-roading, it is close to some of the most beautiful trails. 

You can find many off-road trails in the Bay Area within an hour’s drive of the city, and these spots can be reached quickly with a little planning.

What are the best off-road trails in the Bay Area, you ask? There are many great off-road trails in the Bay Area.

Carnegie State Vehicular Recreation Area is a top spot, and it is only an hour from the Bay. There are rock trails, sandpits, and areas for beginners.

best off-road trails

Although it’s a great option, the Rubicon Trail is a little further.

These are the best Bay Area off-road trails:

  1. Carnegie SVRA
  2. Knoxville Recreation Area
  3. Hollister Hills SVRA
  4. South Cow Mountain Recreation Area
  5. Frank Raines OHV park
  6. Rubicon Trail
  7. Red Lake Trail, and Coyote Lake Trail
  8. Foresthill OOHV
  9. Corral Hollow OTV Trail
  10. Peligreen Jeepway
  11. Prairie City SVRA
  12. Old Coast Road
  13. San Luis Reservoir SRA
  14. Penny Pines

They are easy to find if you’re searching for 4×4 trails in the Bay Area. Let’s take a look at the most popular off-road trails in the Bay Area.

14 Best Bay Area Off-road Trails

14 Best Bay Area Off Road Trails

1. Carnegie State Vehicular Recreation Area

Carnegie SVRA is our first choice for the top Bay Area off-road trails. It’s located about an hour east of the Bay Area and is one of the closest off-road trails.

Carnegie SVRA is available 24/7. The facility includes a motocross track and a 4×4 area, trials, ATV track, ATV track, riding trails, and beginner trails.

A campground and MotoMart are also available. Carnegie is a favorite spot for riders because of its rock trails and sandpits. It’s also a great place to learn, test, and ride big bikes.

2. Knoxville Recreation Area

Knoxville is about two hours north and attracts many off-roaders from the Bay Area each year. Off-highway vehicle enthusiasts love the diverse terrains, rolling hills, and lower camps to accommodate different riding skills. 

Other outdoor activities include biking and orienteering. Knoxville has one of the best off-road trails in the Bay Area. It also hosts a variety of hardwood and other unique vegetation species. You can camp free of charge all year.

3. Hollister Hills State Vehicular Rec Area

Another park is located just southeast of the Bay Area and only two hours from San Francisco. Here you will find one of the most extensive Bay Area off-road trails. 

Hollister Hills SVRA has 6,800 acres of stunning landscape, including 4×4, dirt bike, and ATV trails. 

The Mudstone Ranch offers horse riding, hiking, biking, and biking. The SVRA offers camping facilities so that you can get restful and be able to explore the next day.

Vehicular Recreation Area

4. South Cow Mountain Recreation Area

South Cow Mountain is located approximately two and a quarter hours north of Los Angeles. It covers 23,000 acres and has a mix of hardpack, rock, and loose dirt terrain.

The elevation goes up to 4,000ft. It is located in the Cow Mountain Recreation Area of 52,000 acres, making it the most off-roading Bay Area park in Northern California.

South Cow is a great place to find Northern California off-road trails.

The best places can be found with an ATV, 4×4 vehicle, or motorcycle. Another rewarding part? South Cow looks out over the beautiful Ukiah Lake County.

5. Frank Raines OHV Park

Frank Raines Off-Highway Vehicle Park is located two hours east of the Bay Area. The SVRA is a popular choice for OVH enthusiasts due to its rugged hills, mud bogs, and dry 4×4 trails. 

It’s a dry area, so drivers should not heat their vehicles. Due to the fires, the park is usually closed between June and October.

6. Rubicon Trail

A three-hour drive from the East of the city will take you to one of California’s most popular off-road parks and the entire world.

Because of the challenging terrains at more than 7,000ft, the Rubicon trail is a legend among four-wheelers.

It may take you two days to complete the trial. This site hosts the Rubicon Trail annual event, attended by thousands of enthusiasts every August. It is one of the most popular off-road trails in California.

You will find stunning spots overlooking the lake. You can join the event, or explore the surrounding area, so make sure you have your camping gear (view on Amazon).

7. Red Lake Trail and Coyote Lake Trail

Advanced OHV riders will love this part of the Sierra National Forest Trail network. It is located approximately 3 hours from the Bay Area. You will find large boulders at the top and beautiful mountains at the end.

Red Lake Trail is the easiest of the two. Continue through dense forests and access roads to reach Coyote Lake Trail, where you will encounter a series of rock obstacles.

8. Foresthill OHV

Two hours and a quarter of an hour from the Bay Area takes you to Tahoe National Park. Here you can discover another off-road trail, the Foresthill OHV Hill. You will find many opportunities to cross lakes and take in the beautiful view of the lake.

You will encounter dirt roads and challenging trails along the 100-mile stretch. There are many areas for camping in the National Park system. If you are near the lake, make a reservation.

Corral Hollow OHV Trail

9. Corral Hollow OHV Trail

The Corral Hollow OHV Trail is a popular off-road trail in the Bay Area and is a family favorite. The 14-mile stretch is both easy and difficult with steep and rocky terrain. 

The ridge’s summit is a ski area during winter, and you will also see spectacular scenery. The trail is best visited between May and November, according to recommendations.

10. Peligreen Jeepway

The Peligreen Jeepway, a combination of scenic spots and rough and narrow trails, graveled terrains, and campgrounds, is another trail you will find near the Bay Area.

It starts quite easy but soon becomes a bumpy road. Once you reach Ishi Road, you will encounter volcanic ridges and wide gravel paths.

You can also camp at the site before you continue your next drive.

11. Prairie City State Vehicular Rec Area

Prairie City SVRA is located less than two hours east of the Bay Area. This spot is located at the foot of Sierra Nevada. It has interesting terrain and many trails that can accommodate various types of off-highway vehicles. 

Some areas are flat, while others have rolling hills. For those who love to ride larger vehicles, the 4×4 pyramids, mud, and sandpits, as well as the rock courses, are great options. 

Prairie City also offers a Go-Kart track for kids, a midget track, an MX track, camping areas, and picnic areas.

12. Old Coast Road

Old Coast Road is less than two hours from the Bay Area and offers scenic off-road driving trails. This 10-mile stretch was relatively easy, and many riders chose to use two-wheelers instead of 4x4s.

You will find some rutted and rough areas, but the roads are generally well-covered if you have enough ground clearance. This trail offers great views of Big Sur and the surrounding mountains, and it’s a great way to escape the city.

13. San Luis Reservoir State Recreation Area

This small, off-road trail is located two hours southeast of the Bay Area and is very popular with beginner OHV riding. It is suitable for day-riding, with flat terrain, loading ramps, and places where you can have a picnic.

San Luis Reservoir has approximately 150 acres of land. This takes about half an hour and is ideal for teaching their children off-road riding.

14. Penny Pines

Penny Pines, located three hours north of the Bay Area, is an OHV trail found in the Mendocino National Park. This area has approximately 135 miles worth of black diamond trails rehabilitated after the 2018 Ranch and River fires.

The Penny Pines trail network is suitable for experienced off-road vehicle drivers, and it has steep and difficult terrains. You can also access the trail system via dirt roads, camping areas, or dry riverbeds.

Bay Area Weather for Off-Roading

The weather can be very varied because of its proximity to the ocean, the bay, and other natural features. You can expect temperatures of 70-100 degrees in the summer. Although most OHV trails are open throughout the year, you should be careful in extreme weather and other conditions.

Jeeps and ATVs can tread in mud and rough roads. However, it is better to tread lightly in steeper areas when there is rain. It would be best to take precautions to prevent your vehicle from overheating in the summer heat. To prepare, visit your Bay Area off-road shop.

Conclusion – Bay Area Off-Road Trails

What are the best off-road trails in the Bay Area? Here they are:

  1. Carnegie SVRA
  2. Knoxville Recreation Area
  3. Hollister Hills SVRA
  4. South Cow Mountain Recreation Area
  5. Frank Raines OHV park
  6. Rubicon Trail
  7. Red Lake Trail, and Coyote Lake Trail
  8. Foresthill OOHV
  9. Corral Hollow OTV Trail
  10. Peligreen Jeepway
  11. Prairie City SVRA
  12. Old Coast Road
  13. San Luis Reservoir SRA
  14. Penny Pines

There’s plenty to do in the Bay Area, whether you live there or are just passing through. These off-road trails in the Bay Area allow you to have an outdoor adventure and stay off-the-grid while getting your weekend adrenaline rush.


Where can I go off-roading in the Bay Area?

5 Places For Off-Roading In The Bay Area

  • Carnegie SVRA. 18600 W. Corral Hollow Road. …
  • South Cow Mountain OHV Recreation Area. Mill Creek Road. Ukiah, CA 95482. …
  • Hollister Hills SVRA. 7800 Cienega Road. Hollister, CA 95023. …
  • Knoxville Recreation Area. Knoxville Devil head Road. …
  • Rubicon Trail. McKinney Rubicon Springs Road.

Where are the best off-road trails?

America’s Best Off-Road Trips

  • Mojave Road, Arizona & California. …
  • Washington Backcountry Discovery Route, Washington State. …
  • Alpine Loop Trail, Colorado. …
  • Arizona Backcountry Discovery Route, Arizona. …
  • Dalton Highway, Alaska. …
  • Rubicon Trail, California. …
  • Magruder Road Corridor, Idaho & Montana. …
  • El Camino Del Diablo, Arizona.

What state is best for off-roading?

The Five Best States For Off-Roading

  • California. California is among the states that offer the best outdoor pursuits. …
  • Colorado. Colorado is possibly among the top stunning states in the nation depending on the person you would like to. …
  • Arizona. If people are thinking of Arizona it is possible that they imagine an unforgiving, flat desert. …
  • Utah. …
  • Alaska.

How hard is the Gold Mountain trail?

75 The trail is extremely rocky and filled with boulders that you have to navigate between or over. Additionally, 25 percent of the course comprises significant obstacles that need to be assessed carefully before moving on.

Bay Area Off-Road Trails FAQ

1. Can you use Google maps for off-roading?

Gaia GPS: If you are hiking, offroading, or driving in your van/truck, this is the app for you. The app has been downloaded more than half a million times on Google Play and has an average star rating (4.6) as of the time of writing. This app has many great features. Gaia GPS is great for hunting.

2. Do you need a license to drive a dirt bike in California?

You need a California license to ride dirt bikes. You will need a class license in California to ride a street-legal dirtbike. If you are over 18, applying for a license involves passing both a written and vision exam and a driving test.

3. Can you drive an ATV on the street in California?

In general, ATVs, side-by-sides, and other forms of motor vehicles are not allowed on California highways. This includes streets.

4. Is there an app for Jeep trails?

Badge of Honor celebrates and rewards those who live the off-road lifestyle. The app allows you to discover trails that are based on difficulty, highlight, or location. You can then earn badges for your Jeep Brand vehicle.

5. Is off-roading illegal in California?

A vehicle that was designed for off-road highway use cannot be driven on a California highway.

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