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Contents: Tahoe | NW Nevada/Reno | N. of Truckee | I-80 | Sierra City/Downieville| Nevada City | Sacramento area (Colfax, Placerville, Foresthill) | S. of Tahoe (Hwy 50, Hwy 88) | Clear Lake Area | Central Coast | Other US Trails - S. Calif, AZ, UT, MA, PA, NJ | Links | Trail Ratings | Books | Maps

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Trails * DR - Difficulty Rating, SR - Senic Rating, length - Miles, time - hrs. (incl. sightseeing)

Tahoe (withihn 2 hrs of Tahoe)
Trail Near Location DR SR mi. hrs.Guide*
Mount Watson Trail Tahoe City 3 8 21 2NS 19, SNB 48, NCB 20, HSS1 4
Martis Peak Kings Beach -   8 1.5SNB 49
Blackwood Canyon Homewood
5 8 4 45 min.NS 18, SNB 47, NCB 21
Ellis Pk 1 Rubicon Trail Map
5 8 7.8 45 min.NCB 21
McKinney Creek Homewood
4 8 12 3NS 17, SNB 47, NCB 21
Rubicon Trail Rubicon maps/A>
10   22 18NCB 22, HSS2 7
Angora Lakes Rd Fallen Leaf Lk, Hwy 89 1 10 3 1/2NS 16
Buck Lake Topo      NS 17
1. Ellis peak is 7.8 miles from either Barker Pass or the Rubicon Staging area. The Barker pass route may be a little easier and can be done in less than 1 hr. the route from the Rubicon Trail will take up to 1 1/2 hrs.
Fordyce Creek Trail (Eagle Lakes Rd. to Meadow Lake) see below.
North of Truckee Take 89 North 15 mi. from Truckee then go West on Henness Pass Rd. 17 mi. to the Jackson Meadows Reservoir, a staging area for many trips or go east from 89 towards Verdi.
Trail Near Location DR SR mi. hrs.Guide*
Boca Ridge & Verdi Peak Boca, Verdi 3 8 17 NS 22
Crystal Peak Verdi 20 1.5SNB 50
Henness Pass Rd. Verdi - Comptonville 2 10 76 NS 21, SNB 4, TNF
Independence Lake Truckee 3 8 21 NS 23
White Rock Lake Truckee      NS 24, SNB 5
Summit City Loop Webber Lake - Jackson Meadows Reservoir 3 9 17  NS 24
Fordyce Creek Trail Webber Lake - Jackson Meadows Reservoir
Cisco Grove
5+/5      NCB 17, TNF
Bear Valley Trail Sierraville 2.5/5   8-14  NCB 16, TNF
Access Rd. to Meadow Lake Webber Lake - Meadow Lake      TNF
Grouse Ridge/Bowman Lake Jackson Meadows Reservoir 5   70 16SNB 5
Nevada City see Sacramento below.
NW Nevada
See: Off Roading at Reno-Tahoe, Travel Nevada
Genoa Peak Genoa, Hwy 206   10 2SNB 46, HSS1 7
Trail Near Location DR SR mi. hrs.Guide*
Black Rock Desert Gerlach, 100 mi. N. of Reno        Travel Nevada
Peavine Mountain six miles north of downtown Reno (Map) | (Truckee-Reno map)        Travel Nevada
Carson River Canyon
(somtimes confused with Brunswich Canyon)
between Carson City and Dayton        Travel Nevada
Virginia City and Dayton 24 miles southeast of Reno        Travel Nevada
Sand Mountain Recreation Area 25 miles east of Fallon on U.S. 50        Travel Nevada
Hunter Lake Trail Boomtown to Reno (Map) | (Truckee-Reno)     30  HSS1 3
Yerington area 68 mi. from Carson City        Travel Nevada
See: Off Roading at Reno-Tahoe -
and Off-Road Adventures at Nevada Comission of Tourism -

Hwy I-80
Soda Springs Rd. to French Meadows Resv. Soda Springs
9 26 4 one wayNS 20
Signal Peak Cisco Grove   11  NCB 19, TNF
Rattlesnake Rd. to Signal Peak Cisco Grove      TNF, HSS2 3
Eagle Lake/Grouse Ridge Cisco Grove 5      HSS2 1, TTOR
Committee trail Cisco Grove      TNF
Signal Peak Cisco Grove   11  HSS2 2, NCB 19, TNF
Sierra City - Graeagle Area
Trail Near Location DR SR mi. hrs.Guide*
Gold Valley Trail Sierra City, Johnsville 6 9 15  NS 29, TNF
Sierra Butes Trail Sierra City 5 10 7  NS 27, SNB 1, TNF
Gold Lake Trail Sierra City 5 9 6  NS 28, TNF
Butcher Creek Sierra City      TNF
Snake Lake Trail Sierra City      TNF
Deer Lake Sierra City      TNF
Poker Flat Downieville 5 10 42  NS 30, SNB 2, TNF
Red Oak Canyon Downieville      TNF
Goodyear Bar/Forest City Downieville      TNF
Fir Cap Trail Downieville      TNF
Downie River Trail Downieville      TNF
Craycroft Ridge Trail Downieville      TNF
Chimney Rock Downieville      TNF
Grizzly Ridge Trail Portola 2 9 44  NS 35
South of Tahoe
Trail Near Location DR SR mi. hrs.Guide*
Red and Blue Lakes Trail Kirkwood, Hwy 88 3 9 10  NS 12, SNB 45
Pony Express Trail Kyburz, Hwy 50 2 8 8  NS 15
Barrett Lake Jeep Trail Strawberry, Crystal Basin Rec. Area - Hwy 50   5  NCB 24, HSS2 8
Strawberry Pass Kyburz, Hwy 50      NCB 25, HSS2 9
Deer Valley Carson Pass, Hwy 88      NCB 26
Sacramento (within 2 hrs. of Sacramento)
Slate Mountain Placerville 2 8 18  NS 14
Prairie City SVRA Rancho Cordova         
Iowa Hill Loop
Shirttail Canyon
Colfax, I-80   26  SNB 6, NCB 19
Sailor Flat Foresthill   25  HSS2 4
Buckeye Flat Foresthill (18 mi. to Buckeye Flat Rd.   5  HSS2 6
Hell Hole Tahoma via Rubicon or Foresthill   4  HSS2 5, NCB 23
Nevada City Area
Trail Near Location DR SR mi. hrs.Guide*
N. Bloomfield - Bowman Lake Trail Nevada City 2 9 41  NS 25, NCB 15
Alleghany Trail Nevada City 4 10 31  NS 26, NCB 15
Diggins II Nevada City - Same as first half of Bloomfield & first half of Alleghany above   48  SNB 3
Tyler-Foote's Crossing Nevada City (Alleghany)      TNF
Plumbago Rd Nevada City (Malakoff Diggins)      TNF
Clear Lake Area
Rayhouse Rd. Rumsey 3 8 13  NC 1
Walker Ridge Rd. Wilbur Springs 1 8 14  NC 2
Bartlett Springs Rd. Leesville 2 9 34  NC 3
Pacific Ridge Trail Lodoga 2 9 20  NC 4
Lovelady Ridge Trail Lodoga 7 9 9  NC 5
Cow Mountain OHV Recreation Area Ukiah NCB 5 - 120 mi. of trails. 2 campgrounds.
Other Level 5-7 or Scenic Rating 10 Trails
Nevada City & Portola N. to Alturas
Ponderosa Trail Chico 3 10 59  NS 42
Peligreen-Grapevine Jeepway Red Bluff 6 10 20  NS 44
Bearcamp Flat Trail Eagleville (Alturas) 5 10 7  NS 54
Dismal Swamp Trail Alturas 6 10 11  NC 46
Highgrade Trail Alturas 7 9 5  NC 47
Kirkwood to Yosemite
Corral Hollow OHV Route Bear Valley Hwy 4 5 10 12  NS 10
Pinecrest Peak Trail Pinecrest - Hwy 108 4 10 6  NS 6
Spanaish OHV Route Pineridge CA 168 7 7 5  HS 6
Hite Cove Rd. Mariposa 6 10 5  HS 25
Iron Lakes Trail Oakhurst 5 9 3  HS 21
Bald Mountain OHV Pineridge CA 168 5 9 3  HS 7
Brewer Lake OHV Route Pineridge CA 168 5 9 4  HS 8
Harkless Flat Trail Big Pine Hwy 395 5 9 12  HS 48
Sierra View Trail Big Pine Hwy 395 5 9 14  HS 50
Central Coast - San Jose to Big Sur
Clear Creek San Benito Mtns.
E. of King City
270 mi. of trails. Camping.
Big Sur - Los Padres Forest S. of Monterey & west of Hunter Leggitt Army Base Several off-highway vehicle routes with view of ocean.
Hollister Hills St. Vehicle Rec. Area Hollister
E. of Monterey
64 mi. of trails. Camping.
* DR - Difficulty Rating is on a scale of 10 unless shown as x/5 (which is on a scale of 5). -Easy, -Moderate, -Difficult. See Trail Ratings below.
* SR - Scenic Rating - from Backcountry Adventures Below:
Guide. - Trip number in various Guide books (below):

Number of Tahoe Area Trails in most popular guide books listed by difficulty rating:
Abbr. Trail Guide Book Other
NCB "Guide to Northern California Backroads & 4-Wheel Drive Trails" 1 3 765
HSS1 "High Sierra SUV Trails" (Volume II - The East Side)       
HSS2 "High Sierra SUV Trails" (Volume II - The Western Slope) 1 3 531
TNF "4 Wheeler's Guide - Trails of the Tahoe National Forest" 12 7 4 -
SNB "Sierra Nevada Byways" 6 6 0 38
NS, NC, HS "Backcountry Adventures - N. Calif."
NS-N. Sierra, HS-High Sierra, NC -N. Coast
10 6 0 136
TTOR N. Calif. chapter of Tacoma Territory Off-Roader's Associaion Web site. 1 4 2 6
† Other Areas: Trails in areas other than Tahoe and Eldorado National Forest.
See Books below

Links to trail list sites:

Trip Reports and Trail Descriptions at
Jeep Trails & Events at
California Trails at
California Trails at N. Calif. chapter of Tacoma Territory Off-Roader's Associaion (TTORA)
XJ Zone
Northern California Off-Highway Drives at
More trail list sites below.

Off-Highway Vehicles Areas at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
US Forest Service: list by state - Click on Forest > Recreational Activ. > "Off-Highway Vehicle trails" or "Motorized Use Trails" (each Forest has their own index)
  National Forests: Map, Eldorado, Tahoe (Projects & Plans | Tahoe NF OHV Route Designation/Motorized Travel Management Project), Los Padres, Mendocino,
                    Plumas, Modoc, Sierra, Stanislaus,
            Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit (LTBMU)

California State Vehicle Recreacion Areas (SVRA)
  Prairie City SVRA $4 - (916) 985-7378
  13300 White Rock Rd., Rancho Cordova
  20 miles east of downtown Sacramento and three miles south of U.S. 50

Back Country Camping:
Bridgeport (Hwy 395, N. or Mono L.)

"Sierra Nevada Byways: 50 Backcountry Drives For The Whole Family" by Tony Huegel

"Backcountry Adventures Northern California" by Peter Massey and Jeanne Wilson

"4 Wheeler's Guide Trails of the Tahoe National Forest", William C. Teie, Deer Valley Press

Guide to Northern California Backroads & 4-Wheel Drive Trails by Charles Wells published by Fun Treks, Inc.

"High Sierra SUV Trails" (Volume I - The East Side Inyo-Mono SUV Trails, Volume II - The Western Slope [40 trails out of Auburn, Foresthill, Placerville, Jackson, Angels Camp, Sonora, Pinecrest, Mariposa, Oakhurst, Shaver Lake, Mono Hot Springs, Kings Canyon National Park, and Kernville] (2002), Volume III - The Far North Slope , [34 trails in Nevada, Sierra, Plumas, and Lassen Counties] (2004), Roger Mitchell, Track & Trail Publications

4 Wheeler's Guide to the Rubicon Trail, William Teie's (Deer Valley Press)

See Also: Guidebooks at Central 4 Wheel Drive Store


Rules and Regulations:
See the Regulations and Pledge/Rules of the Road at the Tread Lightly page.
Other Trails
Southern California
Cerro Gordo - S. Inyo National Forest near Keeler off 395
Calif. White Mountains Inyo National Forest off 395
El Mirage Dry Lake OHV Recreation Area - Mojave Desert NE of LA
Wildomar OHV Area near Lake Elsinore SE of LA
The Johnson Valley OHV area , Yucca Valley, CA (2 hr. E of LA)
Big Bear (near Johnson Valley above)
Imperial Sand Dunes - E. of San Diego
Truckhaven hills - E. of Salton Sea (2 hr. E. of San Diego)
Corral Canyon OHV Area E. fo San Diego

Other Places:
Spanish Trail - Moab, Utah
Mohawk Trail - Mass.
Lake Havasu City Area, Arizona
Coal Creek OHV Area, Oliver Springs, TN
Eastern Pensylvania and NJ:
(Miles from Easton PA on I-78 36 mi. from Somerville)
Ringwood -NJ
Paragon Adventure Park, Hazleton, PA - Closed permanently
Rausch Creek Off-Road Park Joliett, PA (on I-81 75 mi. west of Easton)
Pennsylvania's Scenic Trails
Recreation at Pennsylvania Department or Conservation and Natural Resources

New Jersey: Red Bank, Lakewood
george's land in Map of Forked River, NJ
Pine Barens: (New York Land Rover Club, Water Road, more photos)
New Jersey Off Road Vehicle Park Hwy 33 in Millstone (primairly ATV and motorcycles)
Ledgewood Morris Canal Park at Canal St and Emmons Rd. in Ledgewood
See maps.

N. America:
Baja Calif.: San Filipe, Mike's Sky Ranch, Santa Juarez Mts., Catavina
See: "Hey Honey, Have You Seen The Road Lately?" by Charles Graeber in National Geographic Adventure; Aug. 2004, for a 3,168 mi. off-road trip from Canada to Mexico through Idaho, Montana, Nevada and So. California.

DR - Difficulty Rating
3 Level | 10 Level | Moab 1-4+ | 5 Level

3 Level System (USFS ratings for bikes, ATVs and 4WDs, and some Trail Guides e.g. Charles Wells' Guide to N. Calif. Backroads & 4-Wheel Drive Trails,) See: Trail Difficulty Ratings at the US Forest Service.

- (Easy 1-2) [Maximum 20% pitch] These routes are appropriate for novice through advanced users. They generally follow obvious, well-marked trails and roads. Grades are gentle, and few obstacles will be encountered. However terain is rough and irregular making it difficult for low-clearance vehicles.
- (Moderate 3-6) [Max. sustained (200-300') pitch: 20% , Max. pitch: 30%] These routes are appropriate for intermediate through advanced users. Terrain may be steeper, trails narrower, and some obstacles, large rocks and mud holes may be encountered. Might require some winching.
High clearance stock SUV's OK. Undercarriage may scrape occasionally. Brush may hit your sides. Rock-stacking may be necessary in some cases.
- (Difficult 7-10) [Max. sustained (200-300') pitch: 30% , Max. pitch: 50% (27°)] These routes are recommended for advanced to expert users only. Terrain is steep, and routes are not well marked. You should have considerable skill in your chosen activity, as well as knowledge of navigation and survival before attempting these trails. Rough to very rough, sand, mud, stream crossings and large boulders.
Some trails suitable for more aggressive stock vehicles but most trails require modifications. Skid plates and tow hooks required. Lifts, differential lockers, aggressive articulation recommended in many cases.

10 level System: (Jeep Jamboree,

  • 1 - 2 - quite mild and may not require 4 wheel drive.
  • 3 - Moderate trails in which High-Clearance 4WD is preferred, but any high-clearance vehicle is acceptable.
  • 4 - High-Clearance 4WD with low range gears recommended. Most stock SUV's are acceptable.
  • 5 - High-Clearance 4WD is required. You could encounter mud holes, moderately steep hills, climb over small rocks, and generally experience more difficult 4 wheel driving conditions.
  • 6 - Experienced four-wheel drivers only.
  • 7 - Skilled, Experienced four-wheel drivers only.
  • 8-9 Present the possibility of getting stuck. Mud holes will be deeper, hills steeper (25°) or slicker, and rock climbing will be more arduous. Water crossings may exceed 30" in depth. Mud or sand may necessitate winching.
    9 - Body damage, mechanical breakdown, rollover probable.
  • 10 The toughest of all trails. Jeep Jamboree USA reserves this trail rating for only the Rubicon Trail. Impassable by stock vehicles. Winching required.
See: Trail Ratings at Jeep Jamboree USA,

Moab rating (1- 4+): See Moab Ratings at

1 - Graded road; 4WD may be needed in poor weather.
2 - Road rarely maintained, 4WD, good clearance, low gears often needed, with some extra care and a bit of driving experience useful.
3 - Road in difficult terrain, probably maintained only by occasional users. Excellent stock truck or utility vehicle required, with considerable driving skill and daring needed.
4 - Trail either never bladed or badly eroded. Stock vehicles are in jeopardy. Modifications for improved off-road performance and top driving skills needed.
4+ - We can hardly improve on the original description written a few years ago by Jack Bickers: "With driving by World Class Yahoo Jeepers not much concerned with vehicle durability or personal safety." It is common to have as many as 10 percent of the vehicles experience major mechanical failures (gears, axles, driveshafts) on these trails.

5 level System: (at
(Note: Requirements carry down to next level.)

  1. Sightseeing: Obstacles that are easy to navigate. Idea for stock vehicles.
    Required: Front and rear tow hooks properly mounted to the frame or hitch receiver.
  2. Recommended: Skid plates .
  3. Moderate: Beginner to moderate driving skills.
    Recommended: 4WD, Skid plates and rock rails.
  4. Difficult: Moderate to experienced driving skills.
    Required: 4WD
    Recommended: Lift
  5. Very Difficult: Experienced driving skills. lockers and/or winching may be needed.
  6. Extremely Difficult: Experienced driving skills required.
    Required: Skid plates and rock rails .
    Recommended: Lift, Lockers, Winch

See Also:
Trail Rating at
California Motorcycle Roads
Links to other trail sites above.
Lake Tahoe Area Off-Highway Drives at (requires subscription)
Information Sources (Forest Service, etc.)
Placer Mountain Rescue

last updated 24 Sep 2007