Here's a list of trails that we rate as easy. Most stock 4-WD vehicles with a good set of tires can enjoy these trails. You'll have piece of mind knowing you won't have to tackle any major obstacles and these trails are fun to explore.
Black Mountain Truck Trail
Black Mountain Truck Trail in Ramona, California is a short drive from San Diego and a great way to spend a morning.
This trail takes you out into the backroad where you can enjoy nature and check out some spectacular views. This trail is easy the whole way. I would say a 2-WD truck could easily make this trail with no problems.
For the most part, the trail was narrow and even though we encountered a few other off-roaders, we were always able to find a good passing spot.
The Holy Jim Trail is located near the peak and we had to be cautious and watch for hikers in some blind spots as they made their way to and from the trail head.
Santiago Peak was pretty spectacular with 180-degree views of Riverside County. The drive down the mountain, along the Indian Truck Trail, was just as great as the drive up.
Except for a few off-road motorcycles, we pretty much had the 11-mile drive down all to ourselves.
The trail ends behind a new housing development and, if you didn’t know what you were looking for, finding the trail here wouldn’t be easy as it isn’t marked.
This was a great adventure and if you are looking for an easy trail in the Riverside County area, I definitely recommend this one.
Bee Canyon Truck Trail
Bee Canyon Truck Trail to San Jacinto Ridge Truck Trail takes you from Hemet to Idyllwild and was a great outing. We met up in Hemet and divided into two groups.
One group, with the heavily modified Jeeps, tackled a black diamond portion of the trail, while the rest of us took the easy-moderate route.
The trail was dusty almost the entire way, but there were some nice rutted-out obstacles, a few rocky sections, and a scenic water crossing.
The trail climbed the mountain almost two-thirds of the way up and ended in a wooded area with cedar trees.
There was still a hint of snow at the top from a few weeks prior, which was pretty cool since we don't see that much in Southern California.
The waterfall is just past the midway point is a great place to stop for lunch if you decided to take this trail.
Otay Mountain Truck Trail
Otay Mountain Truck Trail was the first place we ever when off-roading in our Jeep.
We've since been back a couple times and explored many of the off-shoot trails.
There's a lot to see in this area and the views are spectacular from the top.
There are a couple of optional trails that are rated moderate and, if you're feeling a little adventurous, you may want to give them a go.
You can take this trail from east to west or west to east. Whichever way you go, you won't be disappointed.
If you elect to take the trail that starts on the west side, you will have to weave your way around the East Mesa Juvenile Detention Center.
Thomas Mountain Road
For this adventure, we headed up to Hemet, California to explore the Thomas Mountain Road Trail (5S15).
This trail is very easy and can be done in 2-WD the whole way. The trail starts at the ranger station and travels from the desert up to the pine forest.
The views all the way are spectacular, but the dust on the first few miles is a bit overwhelming.
Once you get through the dust, the rest of the trail is excellent. If you're looking for an easy backroad getaway, this is a great option.
We joined up with the San Diego Jeep Club on this trail and in the video, I talk briefly about who they are and what the requirements are to be a member.
When hitting the trail, finding a great off-road, 4x4, or Jeep club to join can really add to the whole experience and make off-roading a more enjoyable adventure.
Chariot Canyon-Oriflamme Canyon
Oriflamme Canyon is a steep mountain canyon in San Diego County, California that descends from the Laguna Mountains in an arc northwestward and then northeastward to join Rodriquez Canyon at the northwest end of Mason Valley.
The Rodriguez Spur trail had a large section that was strictly for serious rock crawlers but there is a bypass for this section that keeps the trail easy.
Coming back up Mason Valley is very scenic and there are a couple sections that are pretty rocky or rutted out but, for the most part, it’s just a nice trail.
The desert can be lush, green, and filled with flowers in the spring so, if that’s when you’re going, make sure to bring your camera.
This canyon was along the route that Native Americans used to cross the mountains and desert from what is now San Diego County, California to the Colorado River.
It was later used by Spanish, Mexican, and American travelers, including U. S. Army couriers and the San Antonio-San Diego Mail Line.
Palomar Divide Truck Trail
Palomar Mountain trail is the perfect place to explore if you’re looking for an easy day of wheeling, amazing scenic views, and the peace and quiet of the back roads.
This trail starts on Palomar Truck Trail Road and then comes down High Point Truck Trail Road with amazing views all around.
The trail winds through the beautiful forest and mountain meadows of Palomar Mountain State Park in northern San Diego County, high atop the west side of Palomar Mountain.
Large pine, fir, and cedar trees make the park one of the few areas in southern California with a Sierra Nevada-like atmosphere. The park features camping, picnicking, hiking, and fishing (trout) in Doane Pond.
Elevation within the park averages 5,000 feet above sea level, making evenings cool even during the summer.
You’ll find spectacular panoramic views both westerly toward the ocean and inland toward the desert, particularly from Boucher Hill Summit, which has been listed in the Sierra Club's "Hundred Peaks Section" since first published in 1946.
Upper Coyote Canyon Trail
The Upper Coyote Canyon trail is located in Anza, California in the Anza Borrego Desert National Forest.
This trail is an out and back and there is no passage through the mountains to the South Coyote Canyon Trail.
Coyote Canyon runs from Anza to Borrego Springs and offers two separate vehicle trails, one from the north and one from the south.
Of the two, the southern approach is more popular with hikers and four-wheelers. It is also slightly easier, although a rough half-mile section will test any vehicle.
For eight months of the year, hikers, horses, and mountain bikers can connect the two trails via a 3-mile section of the canyon between Middle and Upper Willows.
Between June 1 and September 30 each year, Coyote Canyon is closed to all users to protect water sources for the rare peninsular bighorn sheep. A seasonal closure gate after Second Crossing restricts users during this time.
The trail is best suited for small and midsize SUV because of a couple spots where there is tight clearance between large boulders.
Good clearance and tires, and an absence of side steps and low-hanging brush bars, are a definite advantage.