If you’re looking for an exciting and adventurous way to explore the stunning natural landscapes of the Bay Area, off-roading is where it’s at! The Bay Area is home to some of the most diverse and challenging off-road trails in the entire country, with something for everyone to enjoy, from beginners to experienced enthusiasts.
This guide highlights the 14 best off-road trails in the Bay Area, each offering a unique experience and level of difficulty. You’ll get to explore famous trails like the Rubicon Trail, as well as lesser-known gems like the Penny Pines.
So what are you waiting for? Get ready to kick up some dirt, tackle steep climbs, and marvel at breathtaking vistas as you explore the Bay Area’s natural beauty on four wheels. It’s time to rev up your engine and hit the trails!
Bay Area Off-Road Trails
- Carnegie SVRA
- Knoxville Recreation Area
- Hollister Hills SVRA
- South Cow Mountain Recreation Area
- Frank Raines OHV park
- Rubicon Trail
- Red Lake Trail and Coyote Lake Trail
- Foresthill OHV
- Corral Hollow OHV Trail
- Peligreen Jeepway
- Prairie City SVRA
- Old Coast Road
- San Luis Reservoir SRA
- Penny Pines
1. Carnegie SVRA
If you’re up for a wild ride, Carnegie SVRA is the ultimate playground for off-road enthusiasts! With over 1,300 acres of hills, valleys, and trails to explore, you’re in for an exciting adventure.
One of the park’s top draws is the infamous Rocky Ridge Trail. It’s known for its challenging terrain, steep climbs, tight switchbacks, and deep ruts. But if you’re not up for that kind of technical challenge, don’t worry. Carnegie SVRA has something for everyone, from easy trails for beginners to high-speed runs for thrill-seekers.
The Corral Hollow Trail is a must-see for its breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. And if you’re in the mood for a thrilling ride, the Sand Hill Trail is a high-speed adventure you won’t forget.
Whether you’re a seasoned off-road veteran or a first-timer, Carnegie SVRA has something for you. So pack up your gear, grab some friends, and head to this off-road paradise in the heart of the Bay Area!
2. Knoxville Recreation Area
Knoxville Recreation Area is a nature lover’s paradise, hidden away in the stunning Napa County. With over 12,000 acres of land, this off-road haven offers something for everyone. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, there are plenty of trails to explore and adventures to be had.
The Devilhead Trail is a real highlight for off-road enthusiasts, offering a challenging and technical ride. It features steep climbs, tight switchbacks, and rocky sections, but the breathtaking views of the surrounding hills and valleys make it all worth it.
If you’re in the mood for a more laid-back ride, the Knoxville-Berryessa Trail offers a scenic and peaceful route through the heart of the park.
The park offers camping, hiking, and facilities for dirt bikes, ATVs, and 4x4s, making it a perfect destination for a weekend getaway or a day trip. So pack your gear, get your vehicle ready, and head to Knoxville Recreation Area for an unforgettable off-road adventure in the heart of the Bay Area!
3. Hollister Hills SVRA
Hollister Hills SVRA is a thrilling and awe-inspiring off-road destination that’s a must-visit for adventure seekers in the Bay Area. This massive park offers over 6,000 acres of land, making it a playground for off-road enthusiasts of all levels.
The park is famous for its challenging terrain, including steep hills, mud pits, and rock crawls that will test your skills and keep your heart pumping. But it’s not just about the adrenaline rush. The park’s natural beauty is stunning, with oak woodlands, rolling hills, and scenic vistas that make the journey as memorable as the destination.
4. South Cow Mountain Recreation Area
South Cow Mountain Recreation Area is a hidden gem that’s just waiting to be explored by off-road enthusiasts in the Bay Area. This vast park offers over 52,000 acres of land to explore, making it an ideal destination for those who love to get off the beaten path and discover new trails.
One of the highlights of the park is the Goat Mountain Trail, which is known for its challenging terrain and breathtaking views. This trail offers steep climbs and technical rock sections that will put your skills to the test, but the stunning vistas of the hills and valleys make it all worthwhile.
5. Frank Raines OHV park
Frank Raines OHV Park is an off-road paradise located just north of San Francisco. This park has something for everyone, from beginner to advanced riders, and offers a variety of trails that are sure to provide an exciting and challenging adventure.
The park’s challenging terrain, which includes steep hills, mud pits, and rocky formations, is a major attraction for off-road enthusiasts looking for a thrilling ride. The natural beauty of the park, with its lush forests and rolling hills, adds to the overall experience and makes it a must-visit destination for anyone who loves the great outdoors.
6. Rubicon Trail
The Rubicon Trail is an iconic off-road trail located in the Bay Area’s El Dorado County, California. This 22-mile trail is renowned for its challenging terrain, breathtaking views, and rich history.
The Rubicon Trail is a technical trail, with rock gardens, steep inclines, and water crossings that require experienced drivers and specialized equipment. The trail takes you through some of the most spectacular natural landscapes in California, including dense forests, sparkling streams, and towering mountain peaks.
The trail is also steeped in history, with remnants of the old gold rush days, making it an adventure through both nature and the past. It’s open from May to October, and permits are required.
7. Red Lake Trail and Coyote Lake Trail
The Red Lake Trail and Coyote Lake Trail offer a beautiful and thrilling off-road adventure in the Bay Area that’s not to be missed. These trails, located near Nevada City, cater to both ATVs and dirt bikes.
The Red Lake Trail is a technical trail that’s known for its steep climbs and descents, making it a challenging ride that requires skill and precision. In contrast, the Coyote Lake Trail is a more relaxed ride that takes you through serene and picturesque landscapes.
Both trails offer breathtaking views of the surrounding wilderness, and the Red Lake Trail takes you to an alpine lake where you can take a break and enjoy the beauty of the area.
8. Foresthill OHV
If you’re an off-road enthusiast looking for a thrilling adventure in the Bay Area, the Foresthill OHV trail is a must-visit destination. This 17-mile trail takes you through the stunning Tahoe National Forest, offering breathtaking views of the California wilderness.
The Foresthill OHV trail has something for every type of vehicle, from smooth paths to rocky terrain that will test your skills. The trail features creek crossings, steep inclines, and technical sections that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
While the Foresthill OHV trail is open year-round, the best time to visit is from May to October when the weather is pleasant and the views are spectacular. If you’re looking for a challenging and rewarding off-road experience in the heart of the Bay Area, the Foresthill OHV trail is the perfect destination.
9. Corral Hollow OHV Trail
If you’re an off-road enthusiast looking for a challenging and scenic trail in the Bay Area, the Corral Hollow OHV Trail is a must-visit destination. This hidden gem is tucked away in the rolling hills of the Diablo Range and offers stunning panoramic views of the surrounding hills and valleys.
The trail is 12 miles long and features a mix of steep inclines, technical sections, and rocky terrain that will put your skills to the test. It’s suitable for all types of off-road vehicles, from ATVs to full-size 4x4s.
The Corral Hollow OHV Trail is open year-round, and it’s a great destination to visit in the fall when the leaves are changing colors. If you’re looking for a challenging off-road adventure that’s off the beaten path, the Corral Hollow OHV Trail is the perfect destination.
10. Peligreen Jeepway
If you’re an off-road enthusiast looking for a thrilling adventure in the Bay Area, you won’t want to miss the Peligreen Jeepway. It’s a unique trail that offers a completely different off-road experience than other trails in the area.
This historic mining road winds through the rugged and scenic mountains of the Mendocino National Forest. It’s full of challenging terrain and steep inclines that will put your off-road driving skills to the test. Plus, the stunning views of the forest and surrounding mountains make it a truly unforgettable experience.
The trail is open year-round, so you can visit any time. However, it’s best to plan your visit for the spring or fall when the weather is mild and the colors of the forest are at their most vibrant. Don’t miss out on this exciting off-road adventure!
11. Prairie City SVRA
Prairie City SVRA is a must-visit destination for off-road enthusiasts. It’s got a vast selection of trails that cater to all skill levels, so no matter how experienced you are, you’ll find something you love. The park spans over 800 acres, so you’ll never run out of areas to explore.
One of the coolest things about Prairie City SVRA is the 4×4 training area. It’s a safe and controlled space where you can learn and practice your off-roading skills before you tackle the more challenging trails. It’s an excellent way to build your confidence and get some practice in.
12. Old Coast Road
Old Coast Road is an absolutely stunning off-road trail that’s nestled along the Monterey Peninsula’s coastline. It’s a trail with a rich history as it used to be a major transportation route for early settlers. The trail’s location and views make it a popular destination for locals and tourists alike.
As you journey through the Old Coast Road, you’ll encounter some of the most breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and the rugged coastline. You’ll also be surrounded by dense forests and might even spot some wildlife during your trip.
What’s amazing about Old Coast Road is that it’s not overly challenging, so it’s perfect for a relaxed day trip with friends or family. It’s an adventure you won’t forget, with an opportunity to soak up some of California’s most stunning landscapes while off-roading.
13. San Luis Reservoir SRA
Looking for an off-road adventure that’s not too far from the city? San Luis Reservoir SRA might just be the spot for you. With its variety of trails, you’re sure to find one that matches your skill level, whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner.
But the real charm of this state recreation area is its beautiful surroundings. You’ll be treated to stunning views of the reservoir and rolling hills as you navigate the trails. Plus, if you’re a fan of water sports, you can take advantage of the clear waters for some fun on the waves.
14. Penny Pines
Penny Pines is a great destination for off-road enthusiasts who want to experience the beauty of nature. This OHV area is located in the Tahoe National Forest and features over 70 miles of scenic trails for various skill levels. The trails here wind through dense forests, across streams, and over rocky terrain, providing a diverse and challenging off-road experience.
Penny Pines also offers a variety of camping opportunities, with several campgrounds available in the area. Visitors can enjoy camping with stunning views of the surrounding mountain ranges and explore the area’s natural beauty. This destination is perfect for those who are looking for a peaceful retreat in the midst of the wilderness, with exciting off-road activities to explore.