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Off Road Trails: San Diego’s Best Routes for Vans

One of the best parts about having a Sprinter van with four-wheel or all-wheel drive is the ability to explore off-road trails. Off-roading trails are plentiful in San Diego. In addition, there are trails all over the area suitable for vans. Read on to discover 10 of the best, relatively easy trails you can visit on your next off-roading van adventure in San Diego.

Off-Roading in San Diego

1. Otay Mountain Truck Trail

The Otay Mountain Truck Trail in the San Ysidro Mountains is relatively easy (as long as it hasn’t rained recently). It’s an out-and-back route that’s 20 miles in total. You can access it via Marron Valley Road. 

It’s a popular route and you’ll likely encounter other off-roaders. You may even see some Border Patrol vehicles as it’s near the US-Mexico border. 

After the first stretch of the Otay Mountain trail, you’ll arrive at the Doghouse Junction, which connects to the Minnewawa trail. The Pio Pico RV Resort is at the northern end of the Minnewawa trail. In addition to off-roading, the Otay Mountain Wilderness region offers dirt biking and hiking opportunities. 

2. Corral Canyon OHV Trail

In the Corral Canyon OHV area, you can find over 50 miles of off-road trails with stunning scenery and various difficulty levels. Be sure to choose a course that corresponds with your vehicle’s capability. 

The Corral Canyon OHV Trail is moderately difficult and varies in elevation, with Bronco Peak the highest at 4,169. An easier trail to try is the Los Pinos Lookout Trail, which you can access at the Four Corners Trailhead. The Corral Canyon Campground is a great place to stay if you want to camp. 

3. Sugarpine Mountain OHV Trail

This Southern California off-road trail in the San Bernardino area is bathed in beautiful wildflowers and surrounded by spectacular mountain views. The Sugarpine Mountain OHV Trail is a 15-mile out-and-back route. It’s a moderately easy trail, with several other connecting trails in the area. 

4. Palomar Divide Road

The Palomar Divide Road in the Cleveland National Forest takes you to the High Point Lookout. You’ll drive through the Palomar Mountain State Park, where you’ll see pine, cedar, and fir trees. 

The main trail is relatively easy and peaceful. However, the drive is decently long, so you can make some stops to picnic, enjoy the scenic views, and let the kiddos run around. Apart from off-roading, the State Park has camping, hiking, and wild swimming sites. 

5. Smugglers Cave

Smugglers Cave is a unique route characterized by stunning views and impressive caves. It may be short, but it’s definitely worth it, and it’ll be different from other trails you’ve driven. The entire family will love this trail near Jacumba, California. 

6. Bear Valley Road

Another great San Diego Off-Roading trail is Bear Valley Road. Here you’ll get views of both Bear Valley and Cottonwood Valley. This trail is located off Pine Valley Road and is one of the closest OHV trails to San Diego. It’s an easy route designed for beginners or those who want an effortless ride.

7. Boulder Creek Road

Boulder Creek Road is a 13-mile off-roading trail southwest of Julian, California. The stretch feeds into a longer 21-mile road. Overall, it’s safe and easy to conquer in your off-roading vehicle. Boulder Creek is great for a scenic drive any time of the year.

8. Cedar Creek Road

Cedar Creek Road is an easygoing 6.1-mile drive as long as the road conditions aren’t muddy. There are a few steeper areas, but overall it’s a relaxed and fun route. There are some great points to stop for pictures or a bit of hiking, including a route that takes you to Cedar Creek Falls

9. Black Mountain Truck Trail

The Black Mountain Truck Trail is a moderately easy trail near Ramona, California. You’ll start in the scenic Pamo Valley and climb up to the peak of Black Mountain, where you can catch breathtaking views of the Cleveland National Forest. 

The 6.8-mile route ascends 2,965 feet and has some steep spots. Any SUV or van with good clearance should be fine on this route. Be cautious if it’s rained recently, as slippery mud can add difficulty. Overall, this off-roading trail is rated one of the best in San Diego.

10. Bee Canyon Truck Trail 

Bee Canyon Truck Trail is a 15.5-mile out-and-back route in the San Bernardino National Forest. There are some trickier terrains along the trail, so its difficulty level is rated moderate. However, it’s quite a popular route, so you will likely see other off-roaders during your adventure. 

Wrapping Up

Before starting, choose your routes based on your vehicle’s ground clearance and capability. There are routes for all skill levels, vehicle types, and preferences. 

The greater San Diego area has tons of great off-roading spots to check out on your next Sprinter van adventure. Through national forests, canyons, and mountains, you’ll come across spectacular views and thrilling off-roading trails in San Diego County

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