Top 10 Easy Off-Road Trails In Southern California

Video of a recent “Easy” off-road trail adventure

If you are new to Jeeping and off-roading you may be looking for some easy local 4×4 trails to get started on. With that in mind, this is The NotaRubicon’s list of our favorite easy and beginner trails in Southern California. All of these trails can be completed by any 4×4 vehicle and most are short enough that they can be completed in just a few hours.

Number 10 – Rainbow Basin – Barstow California:
The very first trail that The Notarubion ever went on was Rainbow Basin . This trail is so easy it can hardly be considered a trail but it’s a great dirt road for first-time off-road driver. Rainbow Basin is a colorful geologic formation in the Calico Peaks mountain range, about 8 miles north of Barstow just off Irwin Road. The Rainbow basin is known for it’s beautifully colored rock formations.

Number 9 – The Red Canyon Jeep Trail – Desert Center California:
The Red Canyon Trail is a scenic trail that starts at Interstate 10 and runs through the hills to Summit Road near Salton Sea. This trail is mostly flat easy road but there is one large, steep and intimidating hill to get up but any stock Jeep can make it easily.

Number 8 – The Bradshaw Trail – Desert Center / Blythe California:
The Bradshaw Trail runs from Salton Sea to Blythe and is mostly flat, easy road with just a few sections of sand. There are several interesting things to see along the way including the abandoned Eagle Mountain railroad bridge.

Number 7 – Rattlesnake Canyon – Johnson Valley / Big Bear:
Rattlesnake Canyon goes from highway 247 in Johnson Valley up into the mountains near Big Bear. There are a few sandy areas, a few narrow rocky spots, and usually mud in the winter months but any 4X4 Jeep or truck can complete this trail easily. Most times of the year you will find dozens of cows roaming free throughout the entire area

Number 6 – Burns Canyon Road (2N02) – Pioneer Town / Baldwin Lake:
Burns Canyon Road is an flat, easy dirt road that connects Pioneertown to Baldwin Lake near Big Bear. The Burns Canyon trail offers great views and also connects you with several other nearby trails such as Rattlesnake Canyon or harder trails such as Marble Canyon, Heartbreak Ridge and the Garden of Eden Jeep trail.

Number 5 – Lytle Creek Ridge – Lytle Creek California:
The Lytle Creek Ridge Trail is an easy trail composed mostly of fire roads and power line roads which cross the San Bernardino National Forest near the Cajon Pass. The trail runs from Lytle Creek to Lone Pine Canyon and offers beautiful views of the Inland Empire and Cajon Pass.

Number 4 – Old Dale Road – Joshua Tree National Park / Twentynine Palms California
Old Dale Road in Joshua Tree runs through the Pinto Basin and into the Pinto Mountains, where it becomes Gold Crown Road. The route ends at Highway 62 not far from 29 Palms. There are dozens of abandoned mines and historic mining camps lining the route making it one of the NotaRubicon’s Favorites. There are a few rocky spots and shallow water crossing in winter months, but any stock Jeep or high-clearance 4×4 vehicle can travel this entire road easily.

Number 3 – Phillips Loop Calico / Yermo California:
Phillips Loop is a beautiful scenic drive in the historic Calico mining district not far from Barstow. The loop takes you through the beautiful mountains and landscape of the Calico Mountains and takes you to Kramer’s Arch – an amazing natural structure large enough to drive your Jeep through.

Number 2 – Cajon Bypass (3N45) – Phelan California:
Cajon Bypass (3N45) also known as Old Rt 66 is a short, rough, dirt road that was part of the Historic Route 66 over 100 years ago.
Starting at the summit of Cajon Pass behind where the Old Summit Inn once stood, it winds its way through the hills offering beautiful views of Cajon Pass before it connects to Highway 138

Number 1 – Cleghorn Trail (2N47) – Phelan California
The Notarubicon’s favorite trail! Cleghorn is a 14 mile long trail that is actually a flat dirt road but it has several optional offshoots that range from easy to difficult – perfect for practicing your off-road and 4X4 skills. Many of the offshoots on Cleghorn are steep, off-camber and full of deep ruts but if you stay on the road instead, it’s flat and easy making this the perfect trail for beginners to practice on.

3 thoughts on “Top 10 Easy Off-Road Trails In Southern California

  1. Manny says:

    Hi, would a 2 wheel drive be able to handle these trails? I have 4runner sport addition, thanks

    1. Randy says:

      IF you stayed on the fire-road at Cleghorn 2WD would be ok, and Rainbow Basin would also be fine as it’s flat road. The rest I would stay away from.

  2. Jorge Rigonan says:


    We just bought a Gladiator and would like to test just a flat easy off road trails.. We like to try the Rainbow Basin this coming weekend. Will there be someone will guide us or we go by ourselves? Please advise this is our first time and my wife and daughter wants to experience this place too.
    Thank you,



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